PUCL Bulletin, December 2001
Forget not the plight of Mussolini's Italy, Nazi Germany and Tojo's Japan. They could initially amass a following of those deluded by their maniacal talk directed against hopeless minorities and nations. Eventually however, their own people had to endure untold miseries and massacres for acclaiming them as saviors and redeemers. I accept that militant creeds are on the ascendancy the world over. In fact, in Mumbai itself books laudatory of Hitler have been circulating and one of those convicted of participation in the Mahatma's killing has acquired the halo of being a saint. This is a perverse word. Those preaching hatreds of various kinds to divide humanity are getting a footage they never should have, while those preaching sanity and peace are being dubbed as appeasers, betrayers and weaklings.
The ghost of ancient hatreds is being revived and placed on a pantheon of the adored ones. First and foremost, the world requires a creed, which will root out hatred and false doctrines like domination over the minds and hearts of humanity. The first human right we should now propagate is the gospel of equality and the need to recognize every group and person as deserving of equal treatment. Until we realize the happy ideal of 'from each according to his capacity and to each according to his need', what has to be ensured is that there is the right of survival, which transcended into legalese means no more than the right to equality and equal opportun1ty. Rights of nations, presently occupied by outsiders, to survive and thrive is of course a very worthy ideal. Equality however is the fist right to take a toss in the real world in which we live. Nations are forcibly occupied, enslaved, divided and held down by different forms of imperialism and hegemony. This gives birth to frenzied creeds of revenge which creeds in course of time lead men and groups to commit unspeakable crimes. At the same time we must recognize that every group of people does not have the discernment to govern itself. The world is too small to allow every assumed nationality separate territory of its own. Residence and occupation or all lands by different and diverse people is a fact of life that cannot be ignored. Its not possible to immerse or assimilate different peoples into one monolith.
Diversity has to be
accepted and where the civil society is not strong or discerning enough
to ensure this, the United Nations organization has to intervene. A trusteeship
has to be devised and this time the same is not to be leased to nations
like Germany, Britain or America. The trusteeship has to vest in the UNO,
acting through its chosen representatives. These representatives should
not be partisans. In fact they should not for the present be from nations
other than the Scandinavian countries, the Baltic Republics, Austria,
Switzerland, Costa Rica, Thailand and possibly Japan. The world has to
be made safe for all species of mankind and this requires strengthening
of the UNO and its different organs. In a unipolar world this may sound
like an unattainable aim. The aftermath of extended hegemonism is the
inevitable end of the bully e.g. the British Empire, Stalin's Russia-
not to speak of the many others in the past and in recent times. There
comes a stage in every nation's life where it can do barely enough to
survive, as was the case with imperial Turkey.
We have to use the tool of free speech, honest governance and urgent steps to redress inequalities and inequities. Above all else we should take up cudgels to ensure genuine equality amongst the people of this country lest the mischievous in our policy, society and economy continue to keep us divided on frivolous grounds like religion, caste, language and place of origin etc. India is a mini-universe and we must try to set an example in harmonious living so that a fast-turning heterogeneous world turns to the same ideal. Rights, whether individual, group or national, can exist only if we learn the biggest lesson of history, to wit, that there is a corresponding responsibility attached to every freedom. In particular, we have to accept and with pleasure the diversities without which the world would be dreary and drab. The right to dissent is going to become more and more difficult with rulers talking of the need to be wary unless we want terrorists and saboteurs to eliminate us. Yes, we have to be careful! This does not however mean that every person belonging to a persuasion other than that to which the majority belongs is a spy, a traitor or a wrecker of our institutions.
Its difficult to avoid pessimism in the difficult times in which we live. In fact its difficult not to be cynical when we see a quest for power and pelf being dressed up as service to the nation, faith or freedom. Politicians and preachers engaged in this nefarious talk abound. But mankind lives on hope and on this solemn occasion my fervent prayer is that organisations such as the PUCL will be celebrating jubilees even in the thirtieth and more centuries that follow it. Human Rights will then also require nurturing and defending for the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
May we hope that efforts of the wel1-meaning wi1l one day make this our country truly great and a role model for a world at peace in which every culture sustains another and is the gainer by a process of cross-fertilisation from others.