Today, 10th December, is being celebrated all over the world as International Human Rights Day. I think it should be renamed International Mockery of the Poor Day.
About 75% of the 8 billion people in the world are poor, hungry, unemployed, and without proper healthcare and good education. To celebrate this is to make a mockery of the poor., since poverty is destructive of all rights. What do human rights mean to a person who is poor, hungry or unemployed ? It means nothing
Before the Industrial Revolution, which began in England in the 18th century, and then spread in other countries, there were feudal societies everywhere.
The methods of production in feudal society were so backward and primitive that very little wealth could be generated in it. The main economic activity in it was agriculture ( though there was also a relatively small handicraft industry ), and this was done by primitive means, the bullock or horse being used for tilling the land. So very few people in feudal society ( kings, aristocrats, landlords, etc ) i.e. about 1 or 2 % of the population could be rich, and the rest had to remain poor.
This situation has drastically changed after the Industrial Revolution. Now modern industry is so powerful and so big that enough wealth can be generated to give a decent life to everyone, with employment and a decent wage, nutritious food, proper healthcare and good education etc. So now no one in the world need be poor.
Yet, despite his new historical situation, the fact remains that the vast majority of people everywhere are poor. Unless this situation is remedied, celebrating Human Rights will be a farce and a cruel mockery of the poor.
I have been invited by the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission to today’s function to celebrate International Human Rights Day in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, where the President of India will be the Chief Guest, but I refuse to participate in this burlesque