Article by Bonnie Sarma
(Student of LL.M at Royal Global University)
Human Rights are certain basic rights and freedom to which an individual is entitled to for life as a human being. In other words, Human rights can be regarded as those fundamental rights which are possessed by every human being irrespective of his/her nationality, race, religion, community etc. Basically human rights embrace civil, social, economic, political and cultural rights. Therefore, it is very difficult to give a precise demarcation regarding the definition of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 incorporates a long list of such rights and puts emphasis for universal application of those rights.
UNDERSTANDING-“RACISM AS AN EVIL PRACTICE”
The concept of racism can be understood as a belief that all human beings have got their own characteristics which is determined by their respective cultures which is involving around the idea that one’s own race is superior to others. In other words, it is a kind of behaviour that someone is inferior to other simply because of his skin colour or race. This evil practice of racism as we know it today has its roots set from the twentieth century with the rise of what is known today as racist regimes. In South- American countries, the establishment of racial laws and putting restrictions on the civil and political rights of black African American people had shun these people to be identified as lower caste, had set a frame of an attitude of hatred and intolerance in the minds of the white coloured people in the American society. But it did not stop there and like an epidemic carried its evil wave in its extreme form to Nazi Germany where thousands of Jews and black coloured people were brutally murdered by Hitler by putting them in isolated gas chambers, concentration camps in Poland and Germany. This is known as the “Greatest Holocaust of the Century”
Racism in the United States has its prevalence since the colonial era until the late 19th and early 20th century. The people who had to face such exclusion on the basis of their race, ethnicity were the Irish, Poles and the Italians who were subjected to xenophobic exclusions exclusion and other forms of racial discrimination in the American Society.
Speaking about the any kind of discrimination prevalent in the Indian society which brings the caste system into light. The caste system has been in existence in India for more than 3000 years has been developed by the Brahmins in order to maintain their dominance over the others as a result of which the society was divided into four categories or ‘varnas’. At the top are the Brahmins, these were the priests who determined what is right and wrong in the matters of religion and society. The second category comprised of the Kshatriyas who were the soldiers. The third categories were the Vaisyas who were the artisans and the commercial class and finally came the fourth category of Sudras who were the farmers and the peasants.
Apart from these four main class of people, there is a fifth group which were known as the Schedule Caste which were branded as the “Untouchables”, the Dalits which were considered as the most exploited social group in the Indian society. A Dalit was not considered as a part of the society but was considered much beyond and those people belonging to the caste were not considered as a part of the Society. Coming to statistics in India there are approximately 250 million Dalits which face discrimination in some form or the other in some parts of India till today. It is a shame for a country like India where the provisions of the Constitution clearly mentions about the Right to Equality in Article 14 and Article 17 mentions about abolition of “Untouchability” in all its forms and practices.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS AGAINST RACIAL DISCRIMINATION-
1. INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION AGAINST ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION AGASINST WOMEN (CEDAW)-
It is an international treaty which is implemented to combat and tackle all forms of racial discrimination against individuals and groups especially women which are denied their basic human and fundamental rights and are subjected to torture. This Convention was adopted by the international community and entered into force on 4th January 1969 in accordance with Article 19.
2. CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT -
This convention requires the signatory parties to take appropriate measures to end torture that happens within their territorial jurisdiction and to criminalise all acts of torture. The United States of America has ratified this convention with subject to certain declarations, reservations and understandings that includes that the treaty is not self executing and needs and requires implementation legislation in the U.S courts.
PRESENT SCENARIO IN REGARDS TO RACISM-
Even though the International community has set different conventions and protocols regarding any kind of discrimination based on race, religion, colour, ethnicity, still there are a lot of cases which have occurred in the world that pose a question whether such international conventions have really been effective in curbing such crimes against the exploited ones?. A recent example of racism that has led to mass protest around the globe is the killing of George Floyd, a 46 year old African American man on 25th May 2020 which clearly states that in some parts of the world these people are still being exploited because of their skin colour or because of the place they are from.
In the final analysis it can be seen that International community is genuinely playing a major and active role in curbing racial discrimination in all of its forms and practice but the battle is far from won and the most effective way of abolishing this evil is by giving a practical and full meaning to the universal principal and declaring it in one voice together that” All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”
1. Lyubov Ginzburg, The Virus of Racism: An Ending Dilemma for Humanity (Oct 2, 2020, 8:30 PM), https://www.un.org/en/un-chronicle/virus-racism-enduring-dilemma-humanity
2. Rajeev Bhargava, The anatomy of anti-black racism (Oct 2, 2020, 8:40 PM), https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-anatomy-of-anti-black-racism
3. Mamta Rao, Law relating to Women & Children (2nd ed. 2008)
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Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash