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For the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, see Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Human rights are commonly understood as “inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being. Human rights are thus conceived as universal (applicable everywhere) and egalitarian (the same for everyone). These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national and international law. The doctrine of human rights in international practice, within international law, global and regional institutions, in the policies of states and in the activities of non-governmental organizations, has been a cornerstone of public policy around the world. The idea of human rights states, “if the public discourse of peacetime global society can be said to have a common moral language, it is that of human rights.” Despite this, the strong claims made by the doctrine of human rights continue to provoke considerable skepticism and debates about the content, nature and justifications of human rights to this day. Indeed, the question of what is meant by a “right” is itself controversial and the subject of continued philosophical debate
Many of the basic ideas that animated the human rights movement developed in the aftermath of the Second World War and the atrocities of The Holocaust, culminating in the adoption of theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The ancient world did not possess the concept of universal human rights Ancient societies had “elaborate systems of duties… conceptions of justice, political legitimacy, and human flourishing that sought to realize human dignity, flourishing, or well-being entirely independent of human rights”. The modern concept of human rights developed during the early Modern period, alongside the European secularization of Judeo-Christian ethics. The true forerunner of human rights discourse was the concept of natural rights which appeared as part of the medieval Natural law tradition that became prominent during the Enlightenment with such philosophers as John Locke,Francis Hutcheson, and Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui, and featured prominently in the political discourse of the American Revolution and the French Revolution.
From this foundation, the modern human rights arguments emerged over the latter half of the twentieth century. Gelling as social activism and political rhetoric in many nations put it high on the world agenda.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
—Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
Human Rights in India
India has one of the world’s largest populations of pre-trial detainees with 249,796 people in overcrowded and unsanitary prisons. While in police custody, these Indian citizens are often subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation, and shock treatments – all in violation of their fundamental constitutional rights. Subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, they are an example of human rights abuses on a colossal scale. Four people die in police or judicial custody every day from these abuses.
Many of these deaths could be avoided if cases were swiftly resolved. However, each year more cases are filed in Indian courts than can ever be disposed of, creating a huge bottleneck in the criminal justice system. There are currently 26,752,193 pending cases in Indian courts and in some jurisdictions case loads are so high that it would take a thousand years to clear court dockets. Because of this backlog, detainees who cannot make bail are sometimes kept in pre-trial detention longer than the maximum sentence they would have received if convicted. In one case, a man was held in pre-trial detention for 54 years even though the maximum sentence for his crime was only 10 years. During these periods of pre-trial detention, arrestees are at the greatest risk of human rights abuses as victims have reported that the longer the period of detention, the more intense the violence against them becomes.
These abuses are made worse and worse by the continuing deterioration of the Indian Police, one of the most ill-equipped police departments in the world. For every 1,037 Indian residents there is only one police officer. (Asian average: 558, global average: 333). Understaffed, under-skilled and under-resourced, the police in many Indian states work long hours under filthy labor conditions. Junior officers face intense pressure from supervisors to solve cases quickly and efficiently. As a result, bribery, brutal torture, murders, illegal arrests and other human rights abuses have become the norm, rather than the exception.
10 December: International Human Rights Day
We keep going on. Our protest against injustice, against all irrational, inhuman and divisive forces in today’s society is forever on.
On this day 19 years ago Humanists’ Association celebrated its legal victory by embracing ‘Humanism’ as religion for the first time. 53 members were present on that day in Kolkata, India, to officially accept the new religion ‘Humanism’.
We are at a crucial juncture in the history of mankind. Man is going to become an ‘endangered species very soon – well, unless we learn to think differently. Our aim is to ban warfare, save the environment and make this earth really liveable.
So let us take a vow to promote this new era that is going to come—a cashless, borderless human society. We are hopeful that it will come one day — sooner or later, that depends on us and our consoloidated effort.
This is the way – the only way.
We wish the world a happier, healthier future.
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