If the nation is to preserve the fundamental values of a democratic society, every person, whether a public functionary of a private citizen, must display a degree of vigilance and willingness to sacrifice. In the absence of an awareness of what is right and a desire to act according to what is right, there may be no realisation of what is wrong.
The upper middle class has got lost in comforts and consumerism. Old words like egalitarianism and welfare state have been crowded out. Struggle of the middle class for daily existence is so grim and so exhausting that it squeezes out of the people every bit of energy and sentiment. They are such a timed lot that they accept whatever is thrown at them.
There is yet another reason why the human rights movement does not take off. All, attention has come to be concentrated on the National Human Rights commission. It has an authority of sorts and cast itself in a mould which is appealing in form but lacking in substance. Those who want to ventilate their grievances against the police or bureaucrats knock at its door because it has become an appellate court. Human Rights activists too have-no other option.
The commission, however, lacks what a human rights agency demands. It is too legalistic, too bureaucratic. True, it sets in motion a process for redress. But it does not know what to do if it is stumped. Many human rights activists have also found in the Commission an easy way out. They have realized that organizing people in the name of grievance is a long haul.
A petition to the Commission at least catches the Government’s attention. The earlier methods used by the activists to awaken the people to their rights have been discarded. Through the commission, some grievances do get redressed and a few individuals do get justice and even compensation.
The activists’ grievance is that they have been reduced to the status of defendants. They do not go through the pangs of starting a movement and suffering for it. Now the process is mechanical and devoid of personal touch. Everybody awaits the Commission’s order. Good or bad it is accepted like a decree on the acquisition of property.
Relief is there but in the process, the cause gets clouded. The response of the people is not one of elation associated with a struggle but that of satisfaction of a client who has won. In fact, it is dangerous to depend of the Commission for redress of the human rights violations. It is essentially a status quo body. It obiter dicta tally with the jargon of the establishment. It is not surprising to hear or read the words “Government of India” affixed to the National Human Rights Commission has at times expressed sympathy with the victims of those who have been wronged. But their observations are like.
Those of courts there too some enlightened judges pour their hearts out. It is fashionable to talk about the oppressed and what they go through as long as you are not one of them. What one misses in the Commission’s decision is the criticism against the establishment or those who are the guardians of the system. When the Commission does not want to hurt the establishment, it shies away from the real issue after reappointment.