Bangalore International Centre had arranged a Discussion on “Can India be a Global Leader on Human Rights?” by Mr. Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International, on Saturday, 3rd September, 2011 at 6:00 pm. The event was chaired by Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, Former Chief Justice of India, and moderated by Prof. S.L. Rao Member, Board of Governors, ISEC.
In his scintillating talk, Mr. Salil Shetty listed the issues India faced despite managing to retain a host of vital institutions and a powerful Constitution. He mentioned that with a multi-party democracy, a working constitution, independent judiciary and proactive media, India has all the elements needed to ensure human rights are respected at every level.
He stressed that the need of the hour was to ensure that marginalized communities- including dalits, adivasis and urban poor get a voice when it comes to large development projects. This was all the more necessary because of the increasingly entrenched divide between different communities in some parts of the country, the lopsided economic growth and, the inability of the Indian establishment to translate intent into realty.
He highlighted the role of Amnesty International in the process of ensuring conformity to the human rights and stressed the urgent need to sensitize all the citizens, and more particularly the marginalized and vulnerable sections, about their own rights and the obligations of the government, as well as the community.
During the interactive session, Dr. Ramachandra Guha gave instances of the abuses of state power, inspite of the glorious traditions set up by our earlier leaders who were champions of civil liberties. The sense and mood of the large audience was clear- civil liberties are sacrosanct and can not be allowed to be whittled away.