Human Dignity and Human Rights

Coloured hands with human rights and freedoms on them

Dear Friends,

Greetings! I am glad to connect with you from Chennai.

December is an important month for all of us. How significant is December for you? If I pose the question to you, you may come up with different answers: Christmas, vacation, family get-together, etc. This year, due to the pandemic, we have the new normal and you may not have the same fun that you used to have in the past.

When I was a student like you, one of my teachers asked the class this question: “How significant is December for you?” Since it was a Christian school run by the Jesuits, most students answered: Christmas. Some students said, “Vacation”. Yes, we all look forward to Christmas vacation that unites families and fills every heart with joy.

If the same question is posed to me now, I would say, “Human Rights Day”. Are you surprised? International Human Rights Day is observed every year in the month of December and so this is an important month for me. I value human rights. Almost all great leaders across the globe have talked about human dignity and human rights.

Let me conduct a quiz now to assess your knowledge of human rights. If you can answer all the five questions without referring to any source or consulting someone, you can be proud of your human rights awareness and give yourself a pat on the back.

1. On which day is the International Human Rights Day observed?

2. What are the 10 important human rights?

3. In which year was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted?

4. In which city and country does the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have its headquarters?

5. Who is the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights?

What are human rights? Why is it important to protect them? What steps should we take to make the world a better place to live in? As young citizens and future leaders we should be concerned about human dignity and value human rights.

Human rights are “the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. They apply regardless of where you are from, what you believe or how you choose to live your life. They can never be taken away… These basic rights are based on shared values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence.” The basic human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.

All countries have enacted Human Rights Act in order to protect the basic rights and freedoms. In India, the National Human Rights Commission was set up in 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

Now you may raise the question whether we really value human rights in India and why so many human rights violations take place in the country.

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Albert P. Rayan
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Albert P. Rayan

Dr Albert P. Rayan is an English Language Teaching (ELT) professional, educator, columnist and freelance journalist. As a columnist for The Hindu and The New Indian Express, he has published over 1,000 articles. He is passionate about media education and human rights issues. E: rayanal@yahoo.co.uk