Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Human right violation is circumstantial or cultural event

Human Right Violation Is Circumstantial Or Cultural Event?
Human rights mean the rights relating to life, liberty equality and dignity of individuals guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
Violation of human rights is one of the most worrying problems of our times for entire civilization. Almost every Commission on Human rights has stressed the need to revitalize human society through greater focus on human rights and made quite a few recommendations to attain this illusive ideal and yet every subsequent Commission has lamented over the sorry state of human rights violation and crisis the world over.
The crisis has occurred because the external man has grown and the internal man remains neglected. The standard of life has gone down in proportion to the standard of living going up, there is lot of decline, erosion and imbalance of universal human rights and values, cut throat competition because of advancement of science and technology and industrial revolution resulting in spiraling individualism, lack of human concern and so many other factors have resulted in the violation of human rights at the individual, national and international level, what we all see today is darkness and what we all feel is pain.
Violation of human rights, whatever be the level is a heinous crime against society and hence a grave problem which concerns the entire human race. Today we are in need of strong society based on the principles of acceptance of human rights both in theory and as well as in practice. Three passions, such as unity, morality, spirituality and secularism, simple but overwhelmingly strong, must govern our lives- longing for love, the search for knowledge and unbearable pit for the suffering mankind.
Man is still as much in bondage as he was at the beginning of human civilization and may be, will continue to be so for ever. The forms change but the essence remains. While living in family, man learnt to enjoy gains. The family developed into a clan, a clan into a village. According to Aristotle when several villages were united in a single community, perfect and large enough to be nearly or quite self-sufficing, the state came into existence,
originating in the basic needs of life and continuing in existence for the sake of a good life.
The present work is concerned with human rights in sociological context. In this work an effort has been made to see whether human right violation is circumstantial or cultural event. The study has been done on a group Dhankut who is living in Dhankutty Pura of Bahraich District of Uttar Pradesh, India with a small population of 2687. They form a pocket which is surrounded by other adjacent communities. Apart from Dhankutty Pura and Salarganj, Dhankut don't live anywhere in the district. Every socio-cultural relation occurs within this pocket. What do they think about themselves as well as their social structure, these are discussed in different parts of the work as follows:
Part I encompasses introduction, research design and methodology. Introduction deals with meaning of human-rights and its evolution. Human right is not a new term, this phenomena is well defined in Indian literature and philosophy. Indian religion such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism explains this term in full length and in true spirit. In present world human rights is merely defined in legal and political context but socio-cultural aspect is very momentous to define this term because India is encompassed with many cultures and religion. In a series of different groups the meaning of human rights varies from one group to another. It is not an easy task to impose the provisions of Universal Declaration of Human Rights on them without considering their culture or pattern of living. In this context present research work is focussed on Dhankut- an ignored and culture specific group of Bahraich to understand the meaning of human rights regarding their socio-cultural life. Introduction is coloured with all the above said points.
Second portion of the first part is more important because it throws light on the methodology applied. Methodology is very important for the success of any research. The present research is focussed on Dhankut which is a small group consisting of 2687 people. For the present purpose participant observation- an anthropological technique, is used because no work has been done so far on Dhankut and no literature is available about them, even secondary data is not present. In this regard only participant observation is a way to understand the present position of Dhankut and their awareness towards human rights. Since it was not easy for the researcher to understand each and every socio-cultural aspect of Dhankut to overcome this problem interview technique has also been used. Total 300 respondents have been interviewed for the purpose.
Part II is about the socio-cultural profile of Dhankut. It is divided into two portions. In the first portion description of the district and personal information of the respondents are given. The respondents include male and female, who are of general category and profess Hindu religion. Maximum respondents are educated up to 5th standard. Majority of respondents are of 41-60 years of age group. Dhankut are in low income group and they are engaged in different occupations.
Second portion is concerned with their family, marriage, panchayat etc. Dhankut prefer nuclear family of at least three children. Joint family is also in existence but very few in numbers. Joint family has at least three married couples. In joint family income is joint but at the level of decision, a diversity exists. In maximum families decision is taken by the Head of the family.
Dhankut consider marriage as religious act or God's will but they also believe in it as ritual, social contract or mutual contract. They find marriage is compulsory but they are not satisfied with their present marriage system. Dhankut are monogamous but gotra system is totally absent among them. Love marriage or marriage by elopement, kidnapping or intrusion is not permitted among them but due to small population and single living place, they practice cross- cousin and parallel-cousin marriages. Here it is noticeable that such marriages are prohibited in north India and Dhankut are considered as normal or general group. They have full faith in Hindu marriage system. They respect family desire in marriage and elderly people decide marriage settlement. Dhankut are familiar with divorce and it is known as "Chhutti-chhutta" in their socio-cultural life. In general practice they don't like Chhutti- chhutta. They don't prefer going to civil court for divorce, they put their matter in their traditional panchayat.
Panchayat plays an important role in their traditional life. Due to poverty and poor economy, Dhankut are still bound with their panchayat though civil court in only a few hundred yards away from their living place. Panchayat takes very strict step in case of love marriage or non genuine separation. Panchayat helps a financially poor Dhankut family in case of death. It imposes penalty if any family absents itself in cremation of any Dhankut. Meeting of panchayat is held at Gullabeer which is a sacred place. Gullabeer is their traditional God. Panchayat is the back bone of their socio- cultural life.
Maximum Dhankut are not satisfied with their houses. The houses are small, congested and without any facility like separate kitchen, electricity, water supply and lavatory. Maximum of them use chullah (Hearth) for cooking. They use cow dung cake for fuel.
Part III inquires about the awareness of human right among Dhankut. Generally indigenous groups or rural population is not familiar with the word human right in India, but due to impact of aculturation, and mobility of an individual from one place to another a profile of comparison is created between one culture and another. This process generates the idea of scarcity or abundance. But all these process is seen in the light of Human right as a western view. In case of Dhankut it is clear that almost whole community is unaware about the term human rights and its meaning. Even they don't have any idea about human rights but when they tell their problems regarding life, the researcher can view their problems in the frame of human rights. Those, who are aware about it, comment about human rights as a right which comes with the efforts of the government. Dhankut want right to social identity, right to individual identity, right to live with pride and right to reservation. Dhankut are very much fed up with their ignorance in the society. So they want all these rights but they force more for right to reservation because they think that nothing is possible without proper reservation policy for them. Dhankut is a caste group but due to delisting of their name in four folded caste system and not being recognised as SC/ST/OBC, they are considered as general category which makes a series of problems for their survival. They know that every financial support is governed by caste certificate. So they want caste certificate. They think that caste identification will give them social recognition. They feel that no right is in their possession which should have been given by the government. Dhankut practice cross-cousin and parallel cousin marriages which are the result of their single living place so they want caste identity to overcome all these unpleasant marriages. They find themselves inferior to other communities. Other communities also consider them as a low profile group. Marriage is necessary but they are not in favour of cross-cousin or parallel-cousin marriages. Due to absence of gotra system they are victim to such type of marriages. Such marriages are creating many genetic problems as albinism, impotency and other sexual diseases. Dhankut community is encompassed with 21 albinos which is the highest number in India at the population size of Dhankut but Dhankut don't know the adverse impact of close marriage. Dhankut do not like polygyny, they believe in monogamy.
Dhankut are very much enchanted by the judicial system but poor economy and single living place and control of Panchayat stops them to take assistance of judiciary. Civil court is only a few hundred yards away from their living place but they don't know their legal rights. Right to education, economic help and service are their other demands from the government. They think that adjacent communities are progressing due to higher education but they are poor and mostly uneducated hence they are considered backward. They feel that they should be financially supported by the government.
Part IV looks into educational status of Dhankut. Today education is a good tool for understanding and to earn good or fabulous money. Education gives the knowledge to an individual irrespective to his/ her culture. Again culture has its limitation and it can fulfill a limited desire of its people but beyond it, desire can take its full shape with the help of education. Dhankut consider education as a device which is taught in school and colleges. Reading and writing are considered by them as main part of education. At least one person is educated in every Dhankut family but all these educated persons are under the category of children. Maximum elderly Dhankut are illiterate but after knowing the benefits of education from the adjacent communities, Dhankut have become aware about the benefits of education and they encourage their children to take education. Maximum adjacent communities are well educated and have a good job so Dhankut consider education as a source of money, service, prestige and knowledge giving device but some Dhankut don't consider education as a boon because they see that many youth are wandering for jobs even after having good education so they think it as wastage of time and money. Apart from this divergence in their ideas about education, all accept that education is a good source of job and money. Dhankut consider education as a gate way to get a good job. For Dhankut service means government jobs but they don't like to be sweeper, goods carrier or servant in a shop. They prefer work related to writing though no Dhankut is engaged in writing work.
Only three Dhankut are in government jobs and all are fourth class employee. Poverty and illiteracy are the main causes of lack of jobs. Dhankut feel that they can lead good life with good service. Education gives better understanding, good future for children, good future of the community and it is also a good source of income. But Dhankut are kept away from all these benefits. Having all these benefits, education can change their status in the society. Dhankut think that good marriage, respect and attitude, all are concerned with education. Reservation is a prime source to get education as many deprived caste groups are getting education with the assistance of reservation policy. The lack of reservation and influence of poverty is manifest on their children's education. Dhankut are not satisfied with their children's progress and community's children as well. It is all due to lack of caste certificate, reservation and financial crisis. Education accelerates the process to access rights but in case of Dhankut this process has been slow.
Part V is concerned with occupational situation of Dhankut. Everyone wants survival and it comes with efforts. These efforts vary from one culture to another or from one group to another. It is known as occupation. Traditional occupation of Dhankut is cereal selling. Cereals were put on the back of the horses and were sold in adjacent areas. This situation continued up to 1970. After this a gradual change came in their traditional occupation when new market system evolved and modern society turned towards sachet system. Nobody takes grain in bulk today. With the emergence of market, now cereal available is clear and of quality, so they prefer to buy it from the market instead of from Dhankut. So diversity in occupation has taken place among Dhankut. But Dhankut don't know the exact meaning of occupation. They consider it as a source of income or income for livelihood. Now Dhankut don't link cereal selling with their community identity. Today almost whole community is engaged in different types of businesses but saving is impossible with low income. Due to investment on poor health and liquor, they cannot save money. Dhankut are not satisfied with their income as it does not fulfill family desire. To cope with this unpleasant situation Dhankut women and children are also doing some work for earning livelihood. Dhankut males use their income on liquor and mostly spend on poor health instead of on education. Dhankut want to do some other good occupation but poverty is a serious barrier in this regard. They want government support and education for their occupational upliftment. Their occupations are very unorganized and it is all due to poverty, lack of awareness and education. Due to difference in occupation Dhankut are stratified as rich and poor Dhankut differ from each other in their living, education, and social-status. They are victim of circumstances and want a good job or occupation which could give them money, standard of life and identity in the society. Occupational diversification makes them aware about their rights which they demand from the government.
Part VI sketches the social status of the community. Dhankut are living in the middle of the city "Dhankutty Pura". They have a specific life style which separates them from other adjacent communities. But Dhankut are not considered same as other communities are, Dhankut feel that their status is not good in the society. Poverty, caste identification and illiteracy are main barriers which make them different from other communities and place them as a low status people. They are very far from many facilities such as electricity, water supply, lavatory, education etc. Single living place and absence of any literature about them prove them as a neglected and an isolated group. The name Dhankut is not mentioned under four folded caste system. So Dhankut are living behind the curtain and leading a dark fate which is clear from their absence in government records. Their population is small (2687). So they are not in the knowledge of the academicians and government agencies. Dhankut want a mobility which is possible only when their origin comes into light or they could associate themselves with other castes. Dhankut consider that they are not progressing due to unavailability of literature about their caste. To overcome all these problems for leading a smooth life Dhankut demand for reservation and want to be placed under scheduled caste or OBC instead of scheduled tribe. Due to absence of reservation they are not getting any financial assistance from the government and hence they are deprived of all rights. No study has been done so far on them and that is why they could not get any help from any other sources. Due to all these crisis other communities consider them as lower caste group, unidentified people and poor people. They are backward due to absence of education. Dhankut are fighting against their hard survival. So they started electing their representatives in municipality from 1990 election on wards. Before this period other community members were elected from the Dhankutty Pura ward by using Dhankut's vote. Now Dhankut representation in municipality attracted the society towards their betterment. Dhankut show that if a group is deprived of each and every facility, the violation of human right occurs automatically.
Part VII explores value system of Dhankut. They are neglected by adjacent communities, so they want social identity but they want to retain their social norms for their development. Even after having lack of facilities, they do not want to avoid their responsibilities. If an accident occurs, they register complaint at police station and if accident is serious, they hospitalize the injured person. Poor economy and poverty are prime curse for their life, so they want money for different work and rituals. Dhankut never indulge in theft or any misconduct. They fulfill their requirements by sanctioned path. In case of money crisis instead of borrowing it either from bank or from money lender they borrow it from somewhere else. Poverty doesn't make them cheater, they pay their debt on scheduled time. Dhankut are victim of circumstances and they face a hard livelihood and existence but they treat their guest as God. They welcome and call them inside their houses and offer them whatever they have in their houses. Apart from these values, Dhankut prefer to speak truth. They hate hypocrisy. They have full faith in God and they worship Lord Shiva, Rama, Krishna, Hanuman and Goddess Durga. They have made two religious temples in Dhankutty Pura locality where all the above mentioned God and Goddess are present as statue. It shows their religious attitude. Their traditional God is "Gullabeer", they start their every work with the worship of Gullabeer and ends it with the worship of Gullabeer too.
Human rights are very important in socio-cultural context. Human rights are nothing but basic necessities which are required for the sustenance of life. But when these become absent from an individual's life or a group that individual or a group is said to be deprived. Dhankut, too, are deprived of basic necessities of life. We have already observed in preceding chapters that their accomodations are very congested, they donot have pacca houses, even houses donot have facilities like water, electricity and latrines etc. Even though they are living in urban area but still they are using hand pumps for water, earthern lamps for light and open fields for the discharge of excreta.
Majority of Dhankut are poor. They are deprived of minimum standard of living. In order to enjoy human rights an individual or a group must have occupational rights but Dhankut donot have security of jobs, most of them are self employed. Dhankut women and children are also working to support their families. Instead of going to school children are involved in meagre earnings.
Lack of Human Rights produces deprivations, disabilities and certain circumstances which breeds a cutlure of its own. Since Dhankut are deprived of basic human rights they have developed a culture of their own. They are recognised as lower caste people. Beyond Dhankuttypura they have no identity of their own, even adjacent communities donot recognise them and look down upon them. In order to survive Dhankut have started marrying among themselves which has led to cross cousin and parallel cousin marriages which in turn have led to ill effects of inbreeding such as albinism and veneral diseases. Thus we see that Dhankut are deprived of even right to health which is a component of human right.
Another aspect of human right is ascertainment or enforcement of human rights which is possible only when an individual or group is aware of its rights and mode of enforcement for it. Though Dhankut have an understanding for human rights that it is necessary for a dignified life but majority of them have no knowledge about it, they cannot distinguish between rights and human rights. Since they have been subjugated for long for being poor and lower class people they consider that right to reservation in jobs and right to caste certificate, that too from the government are more important rights through which they can achieve economic and social progress.
Enforcement machinery is must for the realisation of rights, but here too Dhankut are deprived as they cannot afford the enforcement of rights through courts due to their poor economic situation. They still believe in their panchayat system for the redressal of their rights.
If a group is enjoying good social conditions and is aware of human rights, the status of women and children in that group will also be good. Among Dhankut barring few, status of women is not good, majority of them are deprived of education and are involved in the work of cow dung collection and making of cow dung cakes. They have no liberty or freedom to do the work of their choice. Only recently a few women have come forward for having education and taking part in municipal election.
Dhankut children too are deprived of education, most of them are primary educated only. Due to lack of good schooling and poor incentives for education, children are not sent to schools instead they are involved in small time selling in streets and earning small income.
Dhankut are lower class group deprived of all basic facilities hence they need more attention of the government for the realisation of human rights.
So far as human rights are concerned they are not assured naturally. They can only be achieved through individual or governmental efforts. Education and sound economy do help in creating awareness and access to human rights. Since Dhankut are educationally and economically backward they are not aware of human rights and hence cannot have access to them, that is why they need governmental help in this regard.
Though all human beings irrespective of their caste, creed, colour, religion or region must carry with them title to dignity, liberty, equality and other basic rights but Dhankut are deprived of all these rights. Deprivation of Dhankut is not merely an economic phenomenon but linked with a variety of complex socio-cultural relationships aggravated by a long period of subjugation. Thus violation of human rights is not only circumstantial but also a cultural event.
It is concluded in part VIII that due to negligence of society, lack of political Will, living at single place and due to lack of reservation Dhankut are being deprived of every benefit and hence they have made their own world for their survival. But living with adjacent communities and outer world they have gathered many valuable informations, such as policy of reservation, Government. help, role of education, role of good economy and they have started demanding for their rights which are reflected in different tables described in preceding chapters..
Ideologically, effect of education, role of economy, deprivation, status of women, child labour, and status of lower caste group make an atmosphere of awareness of Human rights. But poverty, socio-cultural setup, lack of mobility and unavailability of safeguards by the law and Constitution keeps a group away from their genuine rights as is true in case of Dhankut.

No comments: