Human rights are those rights, which are equally inherent to everyone without any kind of discrimination –without distinction of class, caste, sex, colour, language, religious community, sect or nationality. Human rights are the universal rights for every individual on this planet. These are equally, needless to say, for everyone, woman and man. These are the fundamental rights, which ensure that every person around the world deserves to be treated with dignity and equality. Starting with the right to live, these include the right to livelihood –bread, clothing, shelter, medical care and education, and the desired freedom thereof in increasing order.
All concepts, declarations and provisions relating to human rights, including views of individuals starting from Cyrus (lifetime: 600–530 BCE approximately) to Mahatma Gandhi (lifetime: 1869–1948 AD), or Martin Luther King Jr. (lifetime: 1929-1968 AD), a leader of the movement for the civil rights of African Americans, announcements of the United Nations and other international institutions, and steps taken by the nations of the world in this regard, especially the provisions made in the Constitution of India, firmly recognize and affirm these standards of human conduct in one way or the other.
At the same time, the basic and the most important thing, which divulges through all concepts, declarations and provisions related to human rights, is equality. Therefore, the state of human rights can be understood fairly only in context of human-equality; keeping this as the nucleus, work can be done for human rights.
Human rights, I firmly believe, are not merely an issue or subject related to human life. Along with freedom and justice, human rights are associated with equality, which is the basis of human dignity –the true identity of a human being. Equality is bestowed upon everyone by the Creator, or the Eternal Universal Law. Equality is the acid test of humanity. I accept equality in this very spirit. I hold a belief that equality is the most basic principle of human life. My viewpoint or the statement regarding equality is confirmed by a short statement by Mahatma Gandhi himself, who throughout his life, as is known to all, general and elite in the world, struggled for freedom, justice and rights, in which he said, “My central aim is the equal treatment for the whole of humanity (without any kind of discrimination) and that equal treatment means equality of service.”
This statement of Mahatma Gandhi was, it should be known to all those who are not familiar with its perspective, related to the purpose of his life. Mahatma Gandhi had stated this while setting a goal of his life.
My viewpoint of equality is also testified by the world-famous speech of Martin Luther King Jr., “I have a dream”, which he gave in the year 1963 AD. Human equality remained at the centre of his address to lakhs of civil rights supporters.
In principle, human equality is accepted by almost all. Since ancient times, equality among fellow-beings has also been expected from man. But, the task of human equality in practices is very difficult even today. Temporary tendencies like jealousy and competition exist in human nature. Due to these, establishing superiority over the other – edging over others, therefore, develops in man’s nature. These two leanings, jealousy and competition, predominantly motivate the individual to maximize his personal interest even more at the cost of others and to achieve more than his fellow beings. Therefore, it becomes their fashion to oppress and exploit fellow-beings, and to dominate others individually and in an organised manner. The entire human history bears testimonial proofs to confirm this fact time and again.
Therefore, I urge and expect individuals, organisations and institutions concerned, and those who are working for human rights to make their views quite clear, not veiled as is the case right now, keeping human equality at the centre, and step forward accordingly.
Even today approximately eight hundred million people in the world are unable to manage two meals in a day. About 10% of the total population of the world are suffering from malnutrition. Two hundred fifty-eight million children are deprived even of primary/secondary education. Seven hundred thirty-six million women are in the state of harassment in different forms. Every year 40.3 million people become victims of human trafficking. All this situation is the violation of human rights of which everyone, woman or man is entitled as a human being without any kind of discrimination. It is the deviation of civilized and capable society from the discharge of its natural and inevitable responsibilities towards the fellow-beings. It is to turn away, knowingly or unknowingly, from the truth of all being emanated from the One and the Same source and, therefore, being the equal. It is to deny the reality of one’s own welfare in the welfare of all. Therefore, unless the spirit of equality of all is developed and fellow-beings are treated accordingly, humanity cannot be completely free from the state of violation of human rights. The extent to which the spirit of human-equality develops and the fellow-beings are treated accordingly, human rights will be ensured to that extent. Not only this, the process of justice, social or organizational, will become strong and human freedom will also be determined.
While leading the struggle for the liberation of the Halpatis (bonded labour) of about two dozen villages of Surat district (Gujarat) in the fourth decade of the last century (the Twentieth Century AD), Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (lifetime: 1875-1950 AD) had said, “The greatest sin is to keep our own fellow-beings as slaves. To free them from slavery, and to ensure their human rights, is the prime duty of those who claim to be their so-called masters. The right way to ensure their rights is to treat them as equals, and to provide equal opportunities for their development.”
This is the truth even today. All those who are concerned with human rights and work for them, they need to comprehend this truth that every individual has to be respected and allowed a dignified life. The established systems, institutions and organizations are working at different levels, according to their own set rules in this regard, and their efforts are welcome and praiseworthy. But, maximum development of the spirit of human-equality, and practices accordingly, is a more effective and concrete solution to this challenging global problem. It is, therefore, needed that all the concerned ones, institutions and organizations proceed in a planned manner keeping the truth of human equality in the centre. No matter what our social status is, or how powerful we feel, we are all equal. We came here by birth and will leave in death.
-The author is a Former Vice Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut; he is also the Editor-in-Chief of Global Peace International Journal.
- The opinion/s expressed in the article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the policy or position of this magazine.