Human rights under democracy


human rights

After so many thousands of years of existence on the planet and experimentation with all forms of governments, democracy has emerged as the most popular form of government.

One of the main reasons why people have put their faith in democracy is that they believe it will ensure their ‘Human Rights’. Human Rights violations take place quite blatantly in non-democratic forms of government where too much power is concentrated in the hands of too few. Every one knows that the Human Rights movement started in a big way only after the excesses committed by the dictators, despots and tyrants woke up every one. One might recall the following famous quotation:
In Germany, the Nazis first came for the communists, and I did not speak up, because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak up, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak up, because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak up, because I was not a Catholic. Then they came for me… and by that time, there was no one to speak up for anyone.
— Martin Niemoeller, Pastor,
German Evangelical (Lutheran) Church

To someone like me, living in the world’s largest democracy, in a metropolitan city, in a posh area, in an economically well-off family – a student who has been educated in excellent institutions, in short, one whose human rights have never been under threat – this topic comes as a great surprise. My first thought is – how silly! What is there to think about Human Rights under a democracy? Doesn’t democracy by its very definition ensure human rights? Isn’t democracy and human rights synonymous? Can one possibly exist without the other? Democracy as we all know is a government “of the people, for the people, by the people”. So, by its very definition, shouldn’t it ensure Human Rights to every citizen?

So then why are we having this topic for discussion? Obviously because all is not well on our dear planet so far as ensuring Human Rights is concerned. Even in a democracy, human rights violations take place very frequently. Our goal in this essay will be to get a clear understanding of how such human rights violations take place in a democracy, why they happen and what can be done to put a quick stop to it and ensure that it never happens again.

Even after a democracy has been established, we cannot rest in peace and conclude that human rights will be ensured for everyone citizen for all time to come. Ensuring Human Rights is a global responsibility and one must strive to establish it for every human on this planet. But it is wise to settle things in order at home first before rushing to settle things outside. Only a strong and free man can help the weak and oppressed.

One just has to read the daily newspaper or switch on any of the news channels to get drowned by the deluge of cover stories of human rights violations – bombings, shootings, theft, robbery, rape, harassment of women in the workplace, corporal punishment in schools, ragging, eve-teasing, child-labour, female infanticide, bride-burning, dowry deaths, abject poverty, women forced into prostitution, students tricked into addiction to smoking, drinking and drugs, unemployment, corruption, red-tapism, fraud, embezzlement, deaths in police custody, politically motivated murders, communal riots and looting, capital punishment, and the list goes on and on and on!

The importance of non-government Human Rights organizations and universal laws must be quite obvious by now. What else can be done to improve the situation?

First and foremost, it is the duty of the well-off people to open their eyes and look around. They must pause to consider and give some thought for the welfare and happiness of others instead of just being obsessed with their own careers and families. They must realize what a huge responsibility they have. They just can’t afford to relax and be happy and proud with their good economic and social status and power, which they might have earned with their own efforts and perseverance. They can’t afford to think –“Each man is on his own in this world. If I can come up in life with my own efforts, so can everyone else. Each one has to bear the fruits of his own actions. So why should I bother about others?”

They must remember that only the strong can support the weak and help the weak to become strong. They must remember that only one who has vision can help to give vision to the blind. They must realize that only when they help others, do they actually help themselves. They must realize that the true happiness which they have been seeking forever lies only in ensuring the happiness of others and alleviating their misery.

Each such person will help hundreds to come out of their misery and each of those hundreds will help hundreds more and thus a chain-reaction can be set up – a chain-reaction of love, goodwill and compassion which will eliminate all social evils and ensure human rights for everyone. The mass media will play a crucial role and each person has to awake from his slumber and take an active part in contributing to the welfare of his fellow beings. The mass-media should highlight such good deeds and propagate such ideas much more, so that more people will be inspired to do good.

The mind is the only source of all evil in society. Everyone is born with an unruly mind. A lucky few are able to gain mastery over it to some extent and are able to control its insatiable demand to satisfy all its cravings and aversions. Such people manage to stay out of trouble and manage to respect all the laws of society and even end up leading illustrious lives.

The majority, however and almost all those who are brought up without much education and under very difficult and trying circumstances or under very luxurious circumstances with a lot of power in their hands end up becoming utter slaves of their minds. They helplessly cater to the whims and fancies of their minds and try their best to satisfy all its cravings and aversions. With time, they only become more and more dangerous as the strength of their various cravings and aversions grows manifold each time the hapless ‘slave’ tries to satisfy it. A stage comes when he loses all control over his mind and he commits some ghastly crime to satisfy his craving or aversion which has completely overpowered him. For example, a man who has constantly fed his mind on thoughts of passion will build up his craving to such an extent that given the right opportunity, he can easily be overpowered by his lust and might end up raping some poor girl.

Hitler is a classic example of a man who nursed a strong hatred for a class of people and ended up killing millions when he got the opportunity to exercise his power. He was a slave of his mind which nursed so much hatred towards a community.

It is very difficult to enforce laws on people who are slaves of their minds. Such people can’t help breaking laws when the conditions are very conducive for lawbreaking (as when he mistakenly thinks that he can escape the law). So human rights activists can only hope to rectify the damage. They can never be sure that they can prevent human rights violations.

Such a dream is possible only when the people become masters of their own minds. For that, they must have a proper childhood – full of care, love and proper education. This is possible only if each person contributes to his best ability. Throwing the responsibility on the government and forgetting the individual responsibility won’t help. Every well-off person has to go out and reach a helping hand to the poor and fund the education of the children. In the proper care and education of our children, in helping them to become masters of their minds lies the prosperity of our country and the world and the hope of ensuring Human Rights to everyone on this planet.


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