The Union Minister for Power, New and Renewable Energy, Mr. R.K. Singh has said that respecting human rights has been inherent in Indian way of life since time immemorial, and much before these were defined by the West. He said that Indians are different because they have always come across as evolved human beings having respect for human rights in their genes. Nevertheless, in order to protect the rights of the people, sometimes tough laws are also needed like Unlawful Activities Protection Act to deal those who indulge in heinous crimes against fellow human beings.
Mr. Singh was addressing, as the Chief Guest, the inaugural session of the two day ‘National Conference on Human Rights in Indian Culture and Philosophy’, organized jointly by the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India and Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, IGNCA in New Delhi today on 30th June, 2022.
He said that respecting rights of women has been a very old tradition of Indian society much before the West realized these in the 60s. We come from a culture where a common man can question the king. Indian history and culture is very vast, and there is a need to study it more with Indian perspective. These have been studied and researched by the western academia interpreting Indian history with their perspective. That is an aspect which needs remedy and it should be useful to compile the research papers part of such an important conference into a book.
Mr. Singh said that the inherent values of leading a life with principles are in the nature of Indians, which are not taught to them. Nevertheless, we also have enabling laws to protect rights. He said that it is our country that has expanded the concept of human rights by ensuring houses, piped water connection, electricity, gas connection for all; health insurance cover of Rs. 5 lakh to every family below the poverty line and right to food that ensured 80 crore people got free food: that is the concept of our human rights and let no one preach us. India had a treasure house of books kept in the library of Nalanda signifying the literacy level of the country.
Earlier, addressing the gathering, the NHRC, Chairperson, Mr. Justice Arun Mishra said that India has given a new philosophy to the world. He said that Dharma has been recognized as a way of life in India and not as a narrow understanding of religion. Therefore, the conduct, as a set principle of life, has become a strong pillar for respecting human rights.
He said that the concept of global village being talked about now has been a very ancient philosophy as reflected in the ethos of vasudhaiv kutumbakam. Referring to several scriptures of different religious faiths, he said that in Indian culture, there has never been a monopoly of any religious faith or ideology, because there has been acceptance for all beliefs, and that is why the concept of religious conversion never met the approval, as its need was never felt.
Justice Mishra said that much in line with the old Indian way of life and beliefs, the Emperor Akbar also started Deen-e-illahi to bring all the people of different faiths on one platform. Justice Mishra said that it is not understood why and due to which reason there is an effort to divide different religions: when there is no difference in human beings, why should they be differentiated in the name of religion. He emphasized that there is a need to implement again the concept of Deen-e-illahi. Justice Mishra said that Indians give importance to human values and respect everyone as in Indian culture there is equal respect for all the religions and nobody should take it as our weakness.
Mr. Ram Bahadur Rai, IGNCA Board of Trustee President, said that this is a new initiative to hold a much needed discussion on India’s contribution to the world in terms of culture and philosophy. He said that Indian culture and philosophy are not an intellectual process; humanity is embedded in them like heart beating.
Dr. D.M. Mulay, Member, NHRC said that in the 75 years of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, it is time to put forward the contribution of India to the global civilization. He said that the struggle for independence, principles non-violence of Gandhiji, and much before in the history, the denouncement of war by the Emperor Ashoka after victory to spread peace, have been the actions that all have in their basis the concept of respect for human rights.
He said that in the welfare of the world, lies the well being of human beings is the Indian concept of human rights. This has reflected all through in its ancient traditions, scriptures, the words of poet saints and social reformers, which are a collection of immeasurable values of life that translate into respect for human rights as basic principles of leading life.
Earlier, during the day, in the two thematic sessions, leading into the culmination of this inaugural session, chaired by the NHRC Chairperson, Mr. Justice Arun Mishra and Member, Mr. Justice M.M. Kumar, several thought provoking interventions were made by the leading academicians on the various facets of ancient Indian culture and philosophy embedded in the values for human rights as these are being understood and defined today.
The two day conference will conclude on 1st July, 2022.