We must demand and fight for constitutional guarantee for human rights!
The Indian State is a signatory to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. The Preamble to the Declaration states:
“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,…” and
“Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women…”.
Further, Article 1 declares that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” And Article 3 declares that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
But the reality is that the Indian State provides guaranteed profits to a small minority at the expense of the wellbeing of the majority of human beings. This is a clear violation of the very letter and spirit of the Declaration.
The toiling majority, made up of workers, peasants and other small owner-producers, have heavy duties but hardly any rights that are guaranteed.
There is no guarantee of a secure livelihood. There is no assurance that the working people’s standard of living will rise in tune with the growing productive potential of the Indian economy. Those workers, who are employed, are denied full and prompt protection for the rising cost of living. In numerous sectors they are made to work for much more than 8 hours a day, and not given adequate time to rest and to spend with one’s family.
A rising proportion of workers are on temporary contracts, without medical or retirement benefits, and dispensable on short notice. Intensification of the exploitation of labour is being justified in the name of making Indian companies globally competitive. Workers’ right to form unions and their right to strike are being attacked in the name of “improving the investment climate”, “maintaining essential services” or some other pretext.
In blatant contrast, the State guarantees high rates of return to the capitalist corporations that are collectively called India Inc. Prices are adjusted and special measures are taken by the Central Government to guarantee maximum profits for Reliance Petroleum. Land is gifted and various tax waivers are offered to the Tatas’ Nano venture. Thousands of crores of rupees are handed out as subsidy to the fertilizer monopolies of the Birlas and other monopoly houses. Policies and regulations have been reformed to create a favourable climate for Suzuki, Toyota, Cargill and other global capitalist monopolies to super-exploit Indian workers and to rob our peasants.
The working class is the most numerous class in our society. The denial of workers’ rights is the biggest attack on human rights in our country.
The peasants who toil on individual plots of land are the second most numerous section of the population. They produce most of the food consumed by our people, but they have neither secure possession of their land nor secure livelihood and prosperity. Peasants’ lands have been forcibly acquired by the authorities in numerous places to benefit capitalist investors and real estate speculators.
The hard-working peasants have no protection either from natural disasters or from man-made disasters like a sudden collapse of crop prices. The so-called Minimum Support Prices are not adequate and not even enforced. The Food Corporation of India purchases its grains from only a few regions, and even that has been curtailed to give room to private corporations, Indian and foreign. Tens of thousands of peasants have been driven to commit suicide in recent years, unable to put up with the heightened insecurity and indebtedness. Now the entry of Wal-Mart and other global trading monopolies poses the threat of further increase in dependence and insecurity of peasants.
Livelihood is an essential need of every human being, which the State must guarantee. It is the duty of the State and the right of every individual. Only if this right is guaranteed can the individual perform his duty to the society.
Clash over the Conception of Rights
All human beings born into this society have needs that have to be fulfilled by the social system. We need to eat well, live and rest in comfort, feel secure about our present and future, enjoy leisure and culture, educate our children and raise them to adulthood to bring the next generation into this world with hope and enthusiasm about the future.
However, the class division in our society has given rise to two opposing definitions of rights. The official conception underlying State policy and practice reduces every right to a privilege to be distributed among a select few, to be given or taken away depending on political expediency. The Constitution permits the State to impose restrictions even on fundamental rights, in the name of maintaining peace and order, or defending the unity and territorial integrity of India. This colonial-bourgeois definition is clashing with the demand of the modern working class and enlightened minds that people have rights that have to be guaranteed and protected by the State.
The legacy of colonial plunder makes the situation especially oppressive in our country, with the rights of nations, nationalities and peoples being brutally trampled in the mud by the central State of the Indian Union. In the regions where the central military and para-military forces have been deployed and given extraordinary powers, people are not even guaranteed the right to life; one could be killed on mere suspicion and no legal action can be taken against the men in uniform.
Our ancestors recognized that for a society to flourish those who toil and produce the material needs of human life must be assured a stable livelihood. The political theory governing the states that flourished and declined prior to the colonial conquest was based on the fundamental premise that the duty of the State is to provide prosperity and protection to all members of society so that they can carry out their duties towards the production and reproduction of society.
Our forefathers recognized that it is only society that can provide livelihood, at a time when socialized production was at a relatively low level of development. Today in this 21st century the process of production and distribution of goods and services has reached gigantic global dimensions. It is possible for society to provide work and human conditions of life for all those who are born to it.
For over two decades the monopoly capitalist parties headed by the Congress and BJP have been singing the tune of global finance capital and the imperialist camp that the economy must be “market oriented” and every individual must “fend for oneself”. Market-oriented is a euphemism for being oriented to maximize the profits of the biggest players in the market.
The reform programme that diverted the attention of the working class and people twenty years ago has lost its sheen today. This entire course of market-oriented reform, championed by the Cabinet of Manmohan Singh, stands exposed as anti-worker, anti-peasant and anti-national, designed to fulfill the greed of Indian monopoly capitalists to become world class players, plundering the land and labour of our own as well as other peoples. In the process of imposing the will of the monopolies on the entire country, the central State is running roughshod over the claims of all those who work and toil. It is even overriding the concerns of capitalist merchants and large landowners, who are part of the bourgeois class but not part of India Inc.
Workers, peasants and all the victims of this anti-social orientation of the economy have no reason to accept this imported western mantra which is being opposed even in the western countries.
Demand is for the Constitutional guarantee of Human Rights
Affirmation of human rights is hence not simply a matter of signing a declaration. It requires the reorganization of the socio-economic system so as to enable the universal realisation of these rights.
Affirmation of human rights requires the transformation from capitalism, which has become a highly corrupt and parasitic system, to modern socialism, a system oriented to fulfill the claims of all members of society on the basis of their work, nationality, citizenship and by virtue of being human. A modern society must be organised to ensure that human rights are universal and inviolable. This is the vision and mission of the working class.
Prosperity and protection can be assured for all members of society if and only if the monopoly capitalist corporations and banks are deprived of their “right” to pocket maximum profits. This can be done if the working class gains political power in alliance with peasants and all those engaged in productive work. The toiling majority of people can then take collective charge of the social surplus and deploying it to invest in their wellbeing, in caring for women, in rearing and educating children and the youth, and in providing a useful role and sensitive care for the aged.
We, the working people, must not restrict our demands to suit the existing system. We must demand that the system should be changed so as to fulfill our claims and protects our rights.
The demand and struggle for human rights must go hand in hand with the struggle for democratic rights and national rights.
The Communist Ghadar Party calls on the workers, peasants, women and youth to unite and demand constitutional guarantees, with enabling laws and effective mechanisms to monitor and enforce compliance, for the following universal human rights:
- Right to security of life
- Right to conscience
- Right to security of livelihood
- Right to food
- Right to secure housing
- Right to sanitation and safe drinking water
- Right to health
- Right to education
Let us demand that the Constitution recognises all of the above as inviolable rights and holds the State responsible and duty-bound to protect them from any violation. This means to make them part of fundamental justiciable rights, which cannot be violated by anyone under any circumstances. Such constitutional guarantees must be backed up by enabling legislation and effective mechanisms to monitor and enforce compliance.
This is the modern definition of human rights. The working class and toiling peasantry, the women and youth, cannot and must not rest until this becomes the fundamental guiding principle for the organisation of society, its economy and its administration and defence.