Human Rights day should be about the restoration of rights to education, food and dignity.

Violate the rights of some and you violate the rights of others Writer SiddaramaiahImage: Special Arrangement
news Human Rights Day Thursday, December 10, 2015 - 19:26

On August 30, scholar and Kannada writer MM Kalburgi was shot to death in his house in Dharwad city in northern Karnataka. Subsequent events eventually led to numerous writers protesting against a number of things – Dadri, the failure to nab Kalburgi’s killers, the alleged silence of the government on communally motivated attacks on people, and more. All of these various reasons have come to be bracketed under that ubiquitous term ‘intolerance’.

On International Human Rights Day, several Kannada writers are staging a protest in Bengaluru against the failure of the state government to arrest Kalburgi’s killers. The News Minute decided to ask one of the protesting writers SG Siddaramaiah what human rights mean in this day and age, and what the role of the state is.

“Human Rights day should be about the restoration of rights to education, food and dignity. This is a universal charter of demands of people across the world,” S G Siddaramaiah told The News Minute.

He also said that while it was a good thing that the day was “universal festival” across the world, it was important to remember that the fight for human rights became a part of every day activity.

“Inequality in the society is growing. The poor are becoming poorer, the deprived remain deprived, the rich get richer, and caste discrimination is also growing in amorphous ways. This is causing both inequality and intolerance to rise. All this is because of exploitation of people,” he said.

Siddaramaiah drew attention to the disproportionate focus on physical violence. While physical violence is a direct violation of the human rights, what is more traumatic is the continuous harassment by demanding people to act or do things that they don’t want to do, he said.

“The education system plays a very important role in breaking stereotypes and social stigma. But when the education system is flawed and mal-functional in most areas in the state, we can’t expect these changes to take place overnight,” he said.

Multiplier effect

Siddaramaiah says while everybody faces some problem or another, particular communities face more hardship than others.

“Everybody cringes at the conditions in which the powrakarmikas (garbage collectors) work in the state. Nobody wants to do the job because on the one hand it is not considered a dignified job by the society, on the other the workers are exploited in every way possible, not just pay but also offering the right safety gear. The few people who do the job belong to a certain caste and most of them are women. The government has clearly shown a blind eye to the atrocities of agents and garbage mafias,” he said.

This violation of the workers’ rights, affects not just the workers alone, but has a multiplier effect on other people. Because of pourakarmikas are denied their rights, city-dwellers faces certain civic problems as do people living in the villages where the garbage is being dumped.

Siddharamaiah says that human rights issues only tend to multiply and lead to larger issues.  “In fact human rights violation is the root-cause for most of the issues that are surfacing in our society today,” he said.​

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