Human Rights Under Democracy

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K. Ramana Prasad


Ever since the organisastion of societies in different forms came about, conflicts in the manner of assuming, conferring or exercising of authority and rights and contingent duties for the accepted ideals have been considered in great detail by eminent thinkers. Accordingly, concepts like democracy, liberty, equality, fraternity, state, nation, privileges and forms of governments ranging from absolute monarchy to militarism to democratic functioning in different mores have been analyzed, given shape and systematically followed by different peoples in different climes and times in different manner. The greatest legacy of the 20th century has been to disseminate information on these aspects of civilized life to those who aspire to carve out for their communities, the finest ideas and ideals that the best minds have bequeathed to posterity and for which successive generations of mankind had struggled and shown the pathway.


In fact, the connotation of the word ‘Democracy’ itself has undergone great changes from the very early times to the present. For the purposes of this article, we will confine ourselves to the generally accepted modern usage of western liberal approach. Similarly ‘Rights’ –acquired, conferred upon or claimed to be of divine origin – has many attributes. Here, too, we will follow what has been the outstanding contribution of British Parliamentary evolution’s gift go humanity as a whole, once again nurtured by such great turning evenings of history as the French Revolution, American War of Independence, liberalism of different hues down to the claims of the proletarian revolution, Afro-Asian-Latin American resurgence and traditions of modern democratic states in general, which by mutual consent between the governed the government, have in theory at least, accepted certain rights as indispensable for the functioning of the state.

Unity of mankind

The world today largely presents a different picture from what it was at the beginning of the 20th century. Enormous and incredible changes brought about in various facets of life due to scientific advancement have touched upon the lives in all the continents, though in varying shades. Similarly information on the way of life of other people, now instantaneously reach all parts of the globe giving scope for reaction, assimilation, adoption or adaptation. Man appears to be truly moving towards the common goal of “One World’, a very distant but distinct perspective of a Tamil bard who had said several hundreds of years back, “The whole world is mine, all are my brethren.”

The economic prospects of globalization of not merely trade and commerce but educational and employment mobility and opportunities, the tremendous scope of reaching out almost anywhere in all areas of human endeavour, have given rise to globalization of thinking on human values as well. Gone are the mere talk about something happening in distant parts of the world. Along with many great strides in positive advancements, negative thinking leading to catastrophic events attempted by nihilists, terrorists and anarchists also pose a change to modern states and citizens in not just protecting their narrow domains but to think in terms of global security, growth, prosperity, sharing and a concern for the entire humanity, unprecedented in dimensions in earlier times. And as the micro will show the path for macro or the micro and macro have together to tread cautiously to elude different forms of violence, it is easier to understand the implications of a well-knit individual unit of modern state to pay attention to the human rights to its citizens, with a view to appreciate similar aspirations of people everywhere so that collective protection becomes inherent starting point of all civilised...
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