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Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
12 OCT 2021 2:00PM by PIB Delhi
English rendering of PM’s address at 28th National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Foundation Day programme

Namaskar!

Wishing you all a very Happy Navratri festival! Present with me in the program Home Minister of the country, Shri Amit Shah ji, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, Justice Shri Arun Kumar Mishra ji, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Nityanand Rai ji, respected members of the Human Rights Commission, Chairmen of the State Human Rights Commissions, respected honorable judges of the Supreme Court, members, representatives of UN agencies, colleagues associated with civil society, other dignitaries, brothers and sisters!

Heartiest congratulations to all of you on the 28th Foundation Day of the National Human Rights Commission. This event is being held at a time when our country is celebrating the 'Amrit Mahotsav' of its independence. Our movement for freedom, our history, is a great source of inspiration for human rights for India and the values ​​of human rights. We fought for our rights for centuries. We resisted injustice and atrocities as a nation and as a society.  At a time when the entire world was engulfed in the violence of World War I, India suggested the path of 'rights and non-violence' to the world. Our revered Bapu is seen as a symbol of human rights and human values not only by the country but the entire world. It is our privilege that we are taking a pledge to live up to those values ​​and ideals of Mahatma Gandhi through Amrit Mahotsav. I am satisfied that the National Human Rights Commission is supporting and giving strength to these principled resolutions of India.

Friends,

India is a country that follows the great ideals, values and thoughts of 'आत्मवत् सर्वभूतेषु' i.e., treating all human beings as one. There is no difference between human beings and living beings. When we accept this idea, all kinds of differences disappear. Despite all the diversity, the people of India kept this idea alive for thousands of years. Therefore, when India became free after hundreds of years of servitude, the declaration of equality and fundamental rights made by our Constitution was accepted with equal ease.

Friends,

Even after independence, India has continuously given a new perspective, a new vision to the world on issues related to equality and human rights. In the last few decades, the world was disillusioned and confused on many occasions. But India remained steadfast and sensitive towards human rights. Despite all the challenges, our faith assures us that India will continue to build an ideal society keeping human rights paramount.

Friends,

Today the country is progressing on the basic mantra of SabkaSaath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and SabkaPrayas. In a way, this is the basic spirit of ensuring human rights. If the government starts a scheme and its benefit is available to only a select few, then the issue of rights will definitely arise. And that's why we are working towards the goal that the benefits of every scheme should reach everyone. When there is no discrimination and partiality, and there is transparency, then the rights of common people are also ensured. Addressing the nation on 15th August this year, I emphasized that we have to take the basic facilities up to 100% saturation. This campaign of 100% saturation, as mentioned by our Arun Mishra ji, is to ensure the rights of the person standing in the last row, who does not even know that it is his right. He does not go anywhere to complain and he does not go to any commission. Now the government is going to the homes of the poor and providing facilities to them.

Friends,

When a large section of the country struggles to fulfill its needs, it will have no time, energy or willpower to do anything for its rights and aspirations. And if look closely at the life of the poor, then his life is all about his needs and he spends every moment of his life to fulfill those needs. And when the needs are not met, he cannot even think about his rights. As Amit Bhai just described in great detail, when a poor man is struggling for his basic facilities like toilets, electricity, concerns of health and treatment, and if somebody goes to him and lists out his rights, the poor man will first ask whether these rights will be able to fulfill his needs. In order to provide rights mentioned in the documents to the poor, it is very important to fulfill their needs first. When their needs get fulfilled, the poor can channel their energy towards rights and demand them. And we all are also aware that when the needs are fulfilled, there is an awareness regarding the rights and as a result aspirations also grow faster. The stronger these aspirations, the more strength the poor get to come out of poverty. After coming out of the vicious circle of poverty, he moves towards fulfilling his dreams. Therefore, when a toilet is built in the house of the poor person and there is electricity and gas connection; it is not just a scheme which is available to him. These schemes are fulfilling his needs, making him aware of his rights and instilling aspiration in him.

Friends,

These facilities available to the poor are bringing dignity in his life and adding on to his dignity. When the poor man, who was once forced to go out in the open to defecate, gets a toilet, he also gets dignity. When the poor man, who could never muster the courage to go to the bank, has his Jan Dhan account opened, he gets encouragement, his dignity improves. The poor, who could never even think of a debit card, when he gets a RuPay card, when there is a RuPay card in his pocket, his dignity grows. When the poor man, who was once dependent on the recommendations for gas connection, gets Ujjwala connection at his home, his dignity multiplies. The women, who did not get ownership of property for several generations, have houses under the government housing scheme in their name, then the dignity of those mothers and sisters soars.

Friends,

In the last few years, the country has also tried to end the injustice meted out to different sections at different levels. For decades, Muslim women had been demanding a law against the triple talaq. We have given new rights to Muslim women by enacting a law against triple talaq. Our government has also liberated Muslim women from the obligation of Mahram (husband or a male relative who must accompany the woman, according to Islamic law) during Hajj.

Friends,

There were several obstacles before the women of India even after so many decades of independence. There was injustice towards women as their entry was banned in many sectors. Today, many sectors have been thrown open for women; it is being ensured that they can work safely 24 hours a day. India is giving 26 weeks paid maternity leave to career women when several developed countries are finding it difficult to implement.

Friends,

When the woman gets 26 weeks leave, it in a way protects the right of the newborn child. He has the right to spend life with his mother and he gets that right. Perhaps all these issues would not have found mention in our law books till now.

Friends,

Several legal steps regarding the protection of daughters have also been taken in the last few years. One stop centers are running in more than 700 districts of the country, where women are provided medical aid, police protection, psycho social counseling, legal aid and temporary shelter at one place. More than 650 Fast Track Courts have been set up across the country for the speedy trial of crimes against women. A provision of capital punishment has also been made for heinous crimes like rape. Women have been given freedom regarding abortion by amending the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act. With safe and legal abortions, the tension of women has reduced considerably and they have been rid of harassment.  Laws have also been tightened to check crimes against children and new Fast Track Courts have been set up.

Friends,

We have experienced the potential of our Divyang brothers and sisters in the recently held Paralympics. In the last years, laws have also been made to empower the Divyang and several new facilities have been provided to them. Several new arrangements have been made for them, like making thousands of buildings, public buses and railways across the country accessible to them, creation of 700 Divyang-friendly websites and special coins and currency notes for them. Not many are aware that our Divyang brothers and sisters can now tell the value of the currency note by touching it. Over the years, special emphasis has been laid on their education, skills, institutions and special courses. Our country has many languages and dialects and the same was reflected in our signages. Our Divyang brothers with hearing impairment used to come across signages in different languages in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Tamil Nadu. In order to solve this problem, India has made a uniform signage policy through legislation. Their complete training and the concern of their rights is the result of a sensitive approach.  Recently, the country's first sign language dictionary and audio book facilities have been made available to lakhs of Divyang children of the country, so that they can connect with e-learning. The new National Education Policy also takes care of this.  Similarly, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act has been enacted to provide better facilities and equal opportunities to transgender persons. Development and Welfare Boards have also been set up for the nomadic and semi-nomadic communities. The disposal of lakhs of pending cases through the  LokAdalats has also reduced the burden of the courts, and has also helped the countrymen a lot. All these efforts are playing a huge role in ending injustice in society.

Friends,

Our country faced such a huge pandemic of Corona, a major disaster of the century, which even distressed the major countries of the world. Past experiences show whenever a major tragedy strikes such a huge population, it leads to instability in the society. But what India did for the rights of its common people proved all the apprehensions wrong. Even in such difficult times, India tried to ensure that not a single poor person should go hungry. Major countries of the world are finding it difficult, but India is providing free food grains to 800 million people even today. India has given financial assistance to the poor, helpless, elderly people directly in their accounts even in this Corona period. The facility of 'One Nation One Ration Card' was also started for migrant workers, so that they do not have to wander for ration wherever they go in the country.

Brothers and sisters,

Keeping human sensibility and sensitivity paramount, such efforts to take everyone along has given a lot of strength to the small farmers of the country. Today the farmers of the country are not compelled to take loans from any third person; they have the power of KisanSamman Nidhi, crop insurance schemes and policies to connect them with the markets. As a result, the farmers of the country are producing record crops even in times of crisis. The example of Jammu and Kashmir and North East is also in front of us. Today development is reaching these regions. Serious efforts are being made to improve their quality of life. These efforts are equally empowering human rights.

Friends,

There is another aspect related to human rights, which I want to discuss today. In recent years, some people have started interpreting human rights in their own way, as per their own interests. Some people see human rights violations in some incidents but not in other similar incidents. This type of mentality also causes great damage to human rights. Human rights are grossly violated when they are viewed with a political color, through a political lens, and with an eye on political loss and gains. Such selective behavior is equally harmful to democracy. We find that some people try to tarnish the image of the country in the name of human rights violations through their selective behaviour. The country also has to be careful with such people.

Friends,

Today when it comes to human rights in the world, at its center is individual rights and it should be. Because it is the individuals who create society and the nation is formed through societies. Over the centuries, India and its tradition has given a new height to this idea. It is repeatedly mentioned in our scriptures for centuries. आत्मनः प्रति-कूलानि परेषाम् न समाचारेत्। Do not behave with any other person which you consider is inimical to you.  This means that human rights are not only related to rights but it is also a matter of our duties. We should care about the rights of others as well as ourselves; embrace the rights of others as our duty; and should have a uniform and affectionate attitude towards every human being. When this spontaneity is there in the society, human rights automatically become the core values of our society. Rights and duties are the two tracks on which the journey of human development and human dignity progresses. If rights are important, so are duties. Rights and duties should be talked about simultaneously and not separately. It is our experience that rights are ensured if there is more emphasis on duty. Therefore, every Indian, while being aware of his rights, should perform his duties earnestly. And we will have to make constant efforts and remain always motivated for this. 

Friends,

It is the culture of India which also teaches us to care about nature and environment. That there is divine in the plant is our ethos. Therefore, we are not only worried about the present, but the future also. We are also constantly cautioning the world about the human rights of future generations. Be it International Solar Alliance, India's goals for renewable energy, hydrogen mission, India is moving rapidly towards sustainable life and eco-friendly growth. I would like all our intellectuals working in the direction of human rights and people of civil society to step up their efforts in this direction. All your efforts will inspire people towards the sense of duty along with rights. With these best wishes, I pause. Thank you all so much!

DISCLAIMER: This is the approximate translation of PM’s speech. Original speech was delivered in Hindi.

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DS/VK/AK