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Legal Framework Of Human Rights

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Legal Framework of Human Rights

Session Report

Rahul Soni

IMPRI Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies, IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, conducted Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship – Cohort 2.0 Winter’23 on the theme: Promoting Human Rights and Ending Gender-Based Violence. The session was held on the Occasion of Human Rights Day. December 10th, 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of one of the world’s most groundbreaking global pledges: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). On the day the session was marked by special lecture by Adv. Dr. Shalu Nigam on Human rights and its legal background.

The session delved into the critical issue of how impoverished and underprivileged individuals are treated and what their fundamental rights entail. It began by highlighting SDG 1’s objective of eradicating poverty, yet India continues to grapple with the harsh reality of around 6 million people living below the poverty line. Particularly alarming is the condition of women, who are more vulnerable to poverty, as evidenced by statistics showing 21% of Indians living on less than $1.9 per day.

India’s poor performance in the Global Hunger Index further underscores the prevalence of inequality, which is starkly reflected in reports by UNDP and Oxfam. A study by the Public Health Foundation of India in 2023 revealed that approximately 10% of Indians faced food insecurity across various severity categories.

The discussion turned to a pivotal case filed by PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties) concerning the paradox of overflowing Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns while people were dying due to rotational starvation amidst drought in Rajasthan. This situation prompted a necessary emphasis on crucial food security programs like PDS (Public Distribution System), ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services), and the passage of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in 2013.

National Food Security Act,2013

NFSA 2013 aimed to convert existing food security programs into legal entitlements but faced challenges and gaps. Critical legal theorists emphasized leveraging the language of rights for social change. Scholars critiqued the linkage of PDS with Aadhar, resulting in the denial of benefits to many citizens, and the act was faulted for its lack of nutrition focus.

Solution to poverty, inequality and starvation

The session pivoted to discuss solutions to poverty, inequality, and starvation, emphasizing the role of the welfare state, fundamental rights, and directive principles of state policy. Programs like NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and other employment schemes, right to health, right to education, and various social, economic, and political rights were identified as potential avenues to address these issues.

Key learnings underscored that human rights are intertwined with law, morality, culture, and society in complex ways. The importance of state accountability, especially when denying justice or the right to life with dignity, was emphasized. It was noted that marginalized sections’ rights require constant reframing, monitoring, and enforcement.

Conclusion

The session concluded by raising critical questions regarding resource allocation decisions by the government, the duties of the state towards marginalized citizens, and the challenges faced in claiming citizenship entitlements. It highlighted the need to declare the right to food, shelter, and health as fundamental rights in the Indian constitution to address unjust situations faced by many. The session urged a shift in political debates from ‘freebies’ to discussing the human development index and combating poverty and inequality. It emphasized the importance of standing up for the rights of marginalized communities, including Adivasis, Dalits, Asha workers, and other vulnerable groups.

Disclaimer: All views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and not necessarily to the organization.

Acknowledgment: Rahul Soni is a research Intern at IMPRI.

Read more by Adv Dr Shalu Nigam:

Legal Hands-on Session-III: Navigating the Criminal Justice System

Access to Equal Justice and Free Legal Aid

Consumer Rights

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    IMPRI, a startup research think tank, is a platform for pro-active, independent, non-partisan and policy-based research. It contributes to debates and deliberations for action-based solutions to a host of strategic issues. IMPRI is committed to democracy, mobilization and community building.

  • Adv Dr Shalu Nigam

    Visiting Senior Fellow IMPRI; Advocate, Author, and Researcher, Gender and Human Rights

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