International Human Rights Day is a mockery and a gimmick

Justice Markandey Katju-

Justice Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.

International Human Rights Day will be celebrated all over the world on 10th December, and there will be a function in this connection organized by the National Human Rights Commission in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on this day.

In my opinion, such celebrations are farcical, and a cruel joke on hundreds of millions of poor people worldwide.

The truth is that poverty is destructive of all rights, and over 75% of the world’s population is poor. There is massive hunger, unemployment, lack of healthcare, and good education for the poor people in the world.

Do human rights mean anything to a person who is poor, hungry, and/or unemployed? According to Global Hunger Index, India has slipped from position number 101 to number 107 out of the 121 countries in the world surveyed regarding hunger. We are worse than neighboring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Srilanka.

Our official unemployment figures have been rising, and the real figures would be staggering.…/india-unemployment-rate…

Prices have been skyrocketing in India…/high-prices-in-india…/…/inflatio…/article66001257.ece

Healthcare and good education are available only to the rich.

So all this tall talk of human rights is empty rhetoric and hot air.

There will no doubt be fine speeches by prominent people in Vigyan Bhawan on 10th December, but at the end, it will be the old story–aamadam, guftam, barkhaastam i.e. we came, talked and dispersed, but zero haasildam.

In this connection it may be mentioned that the great American President Franklin Roosevelt realized that formal political rights contained in the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution, like freedom of speech, liberty, equality, freedom of religion, etc are empty and meaningless unless accompanied with socio-economic rights like right to employment with a decent wage, nutritious food, healthcare, education, shelter, etc.

Hence in his historical State of the Union Address on 11th January 1944, he said that the time had come for the Second Bill of Rights in America, which guaranteed to all Americans these basic socio-economic rights.

I submit that in India too the time has now come when the patriotic people must seriously think out ways and means of providing basic socio-economic rights to the Indian people like employment with a decent wage, nutritious food, healthcare, good education, shelter, etc ( which are no doubt mentioned in Part 4 of the Indian Constitution, the Directive Principles of State Policy, but which have specifically been made unenforceable ), without which all formal rights as contained in Part 3 of the Indian Constitution ( which relates to fundamental rights of freedom of speech, liberty, equality, etc ) are empty hollow shells and illusory.

The mere celebration of Human Rights Day is an empty formality, and a meaningless pantomime and charade.


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