I write this at a very crucial time. I, a student of law have to decide which line should I go into; the corporate side and firms where there is easy money, litigation or higher studies. This also comes at a time when the student community is debating about reservations and those who recently finished 12th would soon be on the look out for the appropriate college. Over the past few days I’ve been encountering human rights to a very great extent. Interning with various NGO’s and the Poverty course at the University have been heavily responsible for it. A question that I often ponder about during these time, “Why Human Rights?” is what I’d like to write about in the next few paragraphs.
I observe that no rich man will ever talk about a violation of his human rights, plainly because he has the means to fend for it. The very fact that one of you is reading this article is proof that you know about your rights and have the resources at hand to fight for them. But the problem is that apart from us, there are 250 million in this country and another billion or so in this world who cannot. Neither do they have a preacher nor a protector. Rights exist not for the rich but the poor who are faced with their violations every minute. They are placed at the mercy of state systems that can do as they please with them. While there are 100,000 dying in Darfur, millions displaced in New Delhi as a result of demolitions, and god knows how many languishing in Indian jails without due process; we seem to be divided into three main groups. The first, that has no clue about them and doesn’t want to associate with them. They just want to go on with their so called ‘personal lives’ without even looking at them. The second, reads about them, would like to do something, but then decide that their individual careers are more important and carry on. These two constitute the majority of the population that can fend for themselves incase they are subjected to any injustice. The third group, consists of those who make a difference in this world of inequalities. The members of this group go on the presumption that they exist in this world to fight for those who are affected by human rights violations. And why so? Because the man above did not give them the means to fight for it on their own. Because they cannot stand living in this world with so much injustice going around and lastly because they love their country.
The last line in more of a rhetorical argument. Albert Camu wrote, “There are means that cannot be excused. And I should be able to like my country and still love justice. I don’t want just any greatness for it, particularly a greatness born out of blood and falsehood. I want to keep it alive by keeping justice alive.” Camu’s quote above was written in response to the French injustices in Africa but bears lot of relevance here. The future of my country today is bleak. In the garb of globalization, millions are suffering. At one place the majority poor are being killed for the expense of a few million dollars in building a Special Economic Zone. On the other hand people languish in jails without no idea what the future has in store for them. I find it hard to believe that most of us are silent on issues like Nandigram where states get away by ordering the killing of poor farmers. To add to it, most of us seem to be more interested in the profits that an Indonesian company will make than taking the lives of people.
In my studies at law school and successive internships I understood that the most important word is ‘rights’. Once my rights are secure, only then can I look at others. In as much as some activists might argue that rights are founded on concentration camps, displaced people or the poverty stricken, I stick to the belief that it is not a gift given by the state or a decree passed by the Court, but a possession that has to be won everyday. But does one be have to be an egotist and draw the line at his rights only or does he have to look beyond? History has witnessed enough of egotists and knows too much of its consequences. I could go on passionately as most activists do as to how we need to protet human rights and all that stuff but I’d like to stop here to delve upon a greater issue, “rational legal thinking”.
Within the human rights circle I observe that there are just a few who fight not for the people but for the law. They believe in the black letter of the law and abhor the twisting of the laws for some and not for others. If I were to emulate anyone in the future it would be these kind of people. They are way above the HR activists and fight for the forsaken because they believe in the strength and application of the law. Not bundled with emotions or any passion, they rationally argue for the poverty stricken and the violated and gain ground through the legal system.
So while I intern with a person who believes in the black letter above I see a sense in their struggle with returns. But I then ask myself if this is the path I want to take as financial considerations seem to take the upper hand.
I have three more years to go at law school. Enough time to decide what to do. But the issues mentioned above will always be kept in mind before I choose my career.