speech by Satish Sonak was presented at the workshop on HUMAN
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*HUMAN RIGHTS AND
By Adv. Satish Sonak
During my post
graduation days in philosophy they taught that philosophers
have analysed world in thousand ways. Crash course in life teaches us fresh ABC
of human rights. One learns
that there is no point in merely interpreting the world. One learns
that the real point is in changing this inhuman world.
I am a humble
activist, not an intellectual. So please don’t expect to learn anything from me.
But I deserve to be heard because I offer you unlimited possibilities of
There are only
subjects and objects in human right textbooks. Because nothing can be learnt
from the academic syllabus of human rights, let’s go beyond it. There
is no need to panic. There is no need to go very far. Just take
one step to step outside these four walls.
are real human beings out there in our neighbourhood. I take
you out to the forgotten world. Let’s
go on a date together.
On a date we
need the best of finery. So I borrow a fine phrase from the human rights
treasure house. The human rights watch word is ‘*Right to live with dignity*’.
in-dignified world torn by riots bloodshed and indifference it has become
necessary to repeatedly remind ourselves that we are human beings.
How better the
world would be if we could forget everything else and just remember that you and
me and others are human beings.
Is human being
a body of flesh and bones? Or is he or she some heartbeat echoing the cosmic
bang from which the universe begins? Someone correctly remembered that the
essence of human being is to have a memory. In our life it is remembrance of
things past, feelings, thoughts and emotions, which connects every fleeting past
moment with every present moment and from that mixing fixing emerges the concept
is the magic seed from which springs the tree of self’. The past,present
and future are its branches. ‘I’ would not be ‘me’ and ‘you’
would not be ‘you’ if we did not have this cement called memory.
If we have an accident and few bones are broken nothing will be lost.
Even if we lose our hair, teeth or sight very little will be lost. But
if memory is lost the very stuff which makes us human being will be
more and more people are suffering from memory loss because a disease
called ‘*Alzheimers’* in invading the young and the old. The latest
score of its victims are 2 crores and 60 lacs in the world, out of which
30 lacs are in India and 3000 are in Goa. In third world for every 72nd
second a new person falls prey to this curse. It is estimated that by
2050, Ten crores will suffer from ‘Alzheimers’.
When a patient
starts showing its symptoms we become impatient just call him insane, lunatic or
mad. If he or she are part of your household and if you have a spare room you
just push them inside and forget them. There are many of those with no relatives
young and old, men and women walking on the streets. There is no past for them,
there is no present for them, and there is no future.
walking from nowhere to nowhere? May be yes if you are a old man.But
if you are a young woman forsaken by your relatives and your memory
and walking alone on the streets, you are defiantly travelling in only
one direction. The direction is that of some lusty arms which will hold
you for the time being, use you, abuse you and then discard you.
seen this happening on the streets of Panaji.
This year Goa Government is going
to spend millions on super specialities. Shall we instead remind the
government that there is commonplace disease known as ‘Alzheimers’,
which requires urgent attention? In China barefoot doctors go home to
home tracking this disease and teaching a lifestyle to combat it.
Why we just
forget to remember? Do we pretend to forget?
think of a better illustration of human rights violation than unattended
Alzheimer’s patients. Will someone care to ask; Should super specialities
be remembered and developed at cost of ‘Alzheimers’?
do something about this. We can do everything about this if we bother
to remember that these 3000 Goan’s belong to our planet. They are
not aliens. They have a human right to be remembered.
authorities turn a deaf ear to our pleas? Why do the people who matter remain
mute spectators when violations of human rights occur? Are we a nation of deaf &
September I opened the local newspapers expecting to read about anniversary
of Satyashodhak Samaj founded on that date in 1873. It was founded by
Mahatma Jyotiba Phule a great champion of human rights. There was not
a single word about Jyotiba’s human rights movement. I wondered why
the media is so ungrateful to the cause of human rights. Has the media
forgotten that human rights are never to be lost treasures of democracy?
happy to come across a fact finding report in one news paper. Instead
of merely paying lip service or parroting the chant of human rights,
the newspaper exposed that Goa’s social welfare department does not
have statistics about how many deaf and dumb are there. The newspaper
also fingered the ignorance of the authorities about the fact that the
deaf and dumb can also be classified in the category of physically challenged
persons entitled to job reservation in government services.
deaf and dumb in physically challenged category in gazette or newspaper
advertisement does not totally solve the problem as most of them belong to the
lower illiterate strata of society. The gazette and newspapers do not reach
them. The result is they don’t apply and the vacancies lapse.
a job is a passport to life. This passport is being denied to most of
the deaf and dumb in Goa. In absence of relevant database the government
does not know how to reach them to make them know about their entitlements.
Will this seminar resolve that a new human right and /or duty should
be spelt out in bold letters?
“EACH AND EVERY
DEAF AND DUMB AND / OR PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED PERSON HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW
HIS OR HER ENTITLEMENTS AND IT IS THE COMPULSARY MORAL AND LEGAL DUTY
OF THE STATE TO PROVIDE SUCH INFORMATION TO SUCH HUMAN BEING.”
The written mandate about reservations
to physically challenged is very vague and scattered in tens of laws
and hundreds of rules and thousands of bylaws. Even the judges find
it difficult to keep track of the latest varied notifications. So there
are conflicting judicial decisions. This adds to the confusion and complexities.
Why not have a single manual, which compiles and states all the relevant
schemes, laws, rules and regulations in simple language. From the human
rights perspective such manual will prove to be more important than the
constitution of India.
human right will come to stay if the government makes it mandatory for T.V. channels; FM, Radio and cable networks to every day showcase the
various schemes, which has bearing on converting a physically challenged
individual into a self-supporting human being?
Cant we have
faultless laws? Many a times laws don’t help human rights because such laws are
half hearted and therefore faulty.
In terms of
sec. 2 (x) and sec. 34 of ‘The Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities,
Protection Of Rights And Full Participation) Act 1995’, the appropriate
government may by notification require that the employer in every establishment
shall furnish such information or return as may be prescribed in relation to
vacancies appointed for persons with disability that have occurred or about to
occur in that establishment to special employment exchange as may be prescribed
and the establishment shall thereupon comply with such requisition.
world ‘may’ is used instead of the mandatory word ‘will’ in
this legal provision. So it is easy to give a go bye to this provision.
In Goa there is no special employment exchange. In Goa information or
returns are not prescribed.
of the said act states that the appropriate government shall within the limits
of their economic capacity and development frame a scheme for
payment of *Unemployment allowance* to persons with disabilities registered
with the special unemployment exchange for more than 2 years and who could
not be placed in any gainful occupation. What is gainful occupation,
or economic capacity or development is not defined. Is the omission to define
the nation has allocated economic capacity of Rupees sixty thousand crores to purchase war planes. One reads in newspapers that Goa government
is going to develop more jetties for anchoring of casino ships.
constructed for IFFI near Kala Academy has remained unused till
Court treated another news report as Public Interest Litigation and
is inquiring as to why the infrastructure development corporation dug
millions worth drains in Panaji and why the City Corporation of Panaji
is filling them. Because state monies are spent on such developments
it is no wonder that there is no monies left to buy a simple thermometer
in Primary Health Centre at Ribandar.
rights to be effective there ought to be relation between development and need
and not between development and greed. Will someone answer why make unemployment
allowance for the disabled dependant on limits of Economic capacity of the
The unemployment allowance should
be made a first charge on the state. First
spend the state monies on unemployment allowance. Only if surplus remains
the ministers, chairman’s & officers should be allowed to have
useless foreign trips. Let them use Indian Maruti cars instead of foreign
vehicles. Unless and until the economic capacity of the state is utilised
for providing unemployment allowance, no salaries should be disbursed
to these ministers, chairman’s & officers who are parasite Dracula’s
sucking the blood from streams of national economy.
should be amended to provide that if disability unemployment allowance
is not paid within a particular time frame the concerned authorities
responsible for the omission will be treated as national offenders and
their offence of neglect should be treated as cognisable criminal offence.
*Right To Die With Dignity:*
Our living is a process of
dying every moment.
Time and again
religions and spiritual upbringing remind us that the soul is continuously on
migration and the earth is its transit platform. When some dear and near one
dies and thereby goes away far and forever it is your human right to say good
bye. The place for the final see off is cemetery.
years ago an agitation was required to be launched to oppose the custom
of not allowing the untouchable dead to share the funeral pyres of the
so called savarnas. We do not know for sure if there is life after death.
But we know that in Goa untouchability survives and lives on even after
death. We have no respect for the living. We have no compassion for
the dead. The mockery of human rights continues.
their dignity with all the weapons at our command. Our weapons are
religion, caste and regionalism.
what I am trying to say you don’t have to dig into distant history buried in
past. Just last week there was a conflict between villagers of two different
wards of a village because people from one ward tried to burn their dead in
cemetery located in another ward. Remember the dog who does not allow other dogs
to come within a certain area around him. Today human beings are no different.
They are also addicted to a dog’s concept of territorial sovereignty.
Bachav days villagers came complaining against builders that they had
closed pathways to local cemetery. What kind of development is this
where roads are made to loose human ways of life?
Pednem local people are up in arms because cemetery land was purchased
and fenced by some super rich. Mahatma Gandhi whose birth anniversary
we will celebrate in another 3 days said ‘India lives in its villages’.
If Mahatma were to take rebirth in Morjim he would have wondered whether
any place would be left for India to die in its villages.
here via Margao. It was disheartening to see that the legitimate demand
of Muslims of Margao and South Goa for the burial ground in addition
to current one which is grossly inadequate to meet the demand is being
Goa will very soon have
many special economic zones.
Why no one thinks about
acquiring land for a special death zone?
Last week a 27 year old young human
being drowned and died at Valpoi. As usual there were no lifeguards.
There was no hearse van. The body could not be taken for long time to GMC for
post-mortem. Our lives have become so much rotten that we don’t care
if the human body decays after death.
We need right
to die with dignity.
Is it really
difficult to give ourselves this human right?
succeeded in sending man to the moon and in sending space shuttle to
the skies beyond but we failed to send a hearse van to the dead.
*If you are raped you neither
live nor you die. *
If I were a
woman and if I were raped the minimum I would expect from state
would be another policewoman’s shoulder whereon I could keep my head
strong police force in India only 40,000 i.e. 3.7% are women.
Among 4,160 police in Goa 360 i.e. 7.43% are women. Tamil Nadu has the
largest ratio i.e. 11.26% and Nagaland has the lowest ratio of 0. 35%.
No wonder there was a Morcha of nude women in the North Eastern states
protesting against rape by armed forces. This naked truth was perhaps
not enough to shock the conscious of the nation.
is no increase in number of women police over the years. Assam has 0.79%, Orissa and Zharkhand have respectively 1.11 % , Uttar Pradesh has 1.22%,
Jammu Kashmir has 1.91% , Bihar has 2.11%, Andhra Pradesh has 2.12%,
Bengal has 2.16%, Meghalaya has 2.22% and Haryana has 2.73%. Believe
me there is not a single woman police in Mizoram and Daman & Diu.
are a woman lecturer and subjected to sexual harassment at work place
don’t be too happy that in Goa 7.43% are your sisters and that the
Supreme Court is on your side. The Supreme Court has stated that Vishakha
Committee should be headed by woman and half its member should be composed
of women and that the management must complain to the police when sexual
harassment come to light.
for Supreme Court? Unless you unite and agitate your management will
not refer your case to Vishakha Committee. Do you know of a single instance
in Goa were police have registered an offence of sexual harassment at
don’t cry. Who will hear your cry for justice? How many women judges
are there in Mumbai High Court? Which name of Supreme Court women
Judge, you remember? If nothing can be remembered in these regards it
is better to forget human rights.
know what a bad disease malaria is? I know of something worst and i.e.
our indifference to it. Ok some of you are not indifferent and are alarmed
by spread of malaria in Goa. What is your reaction? It has become fashionable
to blame the migrant labourers for malaria. Ask the mosquitoes and they
will tell you these labourers are the victims and not cause of malaria.
Someone with a heart wrote
a letter to editor rightly pointing out that the real blame lies on
building contractors who do not provide labourers with any sanitation
facilities. The migrant labourers work in slave like conditions, often
using bushes nearby to answer natures call at most construction sites.
As for water, they usually have just one tank from which they use water
for all purposes, including washing their utensils and cloths and bathing
in the open. The drain water accumulates around the site
spreading malaria and other enteric disease.
liberated on 19 December 1961. Today 46 years later when we boast
of housing and industrial development in Goa, we rarely enquired Development
at what cost and at whose cost. The real estate construction business
depends on generation and accumulation of surplus profits in pockets
of builders. For developers it is more cheaper to pocket the politicians,
the local self-government and health authorities as compared to spending
a sum on sanitation amenities. In consequence every authority turns
a blind eye and pretends not to see what is happening.
deserves to be entered in Guinness Book of world records for the
simple reason that in last 46 years after liberation not a single offence
has been registered against the builders for their criminal neglect
in providing clean environment to migrant labourers.
Last week I
witnessed a case in the court. Ever since I am wondering whether
I have any moral right to bla..bla..bla… about human rights.
migrant labourer faced trial for trespassing on railway station without
buying a platform ticket. He was not trying to have a ticket-less travel.
All that he wanted was to have a bath in the station bathroom. He did
not buy the ticket because he did not have the money. In the vicinity
and in fact in few miles around there are no free public bathrooms.
With his labour his builder must have built many bathrooms with Italian marbles.
But the same builder does not think about providing a common bathroom.
The Government authorities do not give a single thought to cancelling
licence of said builder for not providing basic sanitation amenities.
police did the easiest thing they could do. They arrested him. What
was his crime? That he wanted to take a bath? The migrant labourers
cannot be expected to have local friends who will financially guarantee
their bail. So when the case was going on he remained in custody for
In theory we
preach that everyone is presumed to be innocent till he is proved guilty.
But in practice
if you are poor you are presumed to be guilty till you are proved innocent.
And if you are
poor there is no chance of proving your innocence.
prepares the crime and the criminal commits it. This migrant
labourer confessed his guilt for the crime, which he had not prepared.
Who should be the real accused? Him or society?
We are all
guilty of not having a guilty conscious.
tomorrow and forever thereafter we will hold a hundred seminars on
human rights and quote therein a hundred national laws and a thousand
international declarations on human rights. And we will congratulate
ourselves as champions of human rights.
It is high time
we champions ask ourselves two simple questions.
should do to give that labourer opportunity of washing his body?
What we should
do to wash our sins?
I am not
against seminars. The intellectual talks in human rights seminars have always
given us food for thought. They have always proved what good heads we have.
And yet the
twin challenge survives. The challenge of disproving that there is not enough
staple diet for the conscious to feed. The challenge of disproving that we have
On September 25
the newspaper told us that authorities have distributed inferior wheat though
the laboratory of the state government had declared that said wheat was not fit
for human consumption as the fungal growth has affected whole-wheat grains.
had tested 265 samples of imported wheat in March this year.
Of these 229 samples did not conform to the standard of wheat as per
the Health Services Act/Rules 1995. The foreign countries exported such
wheat to India because in foreign countries they don’t give such wheat
So what is to
to the human beings and call it ‘Antyodaya’ or ‘Annapurna’ schemes!
Though I love animals it is not a pleasant surprise to learn that animal
rights are more important than human rights. Let’s demand criminal
action against the concerned government authority for inhuman distribution
of such wheat. Or shall we merely go parroting that ‘Anna is purna
Bramha’ and that ’man is what man eats’.
go on and on. But I will not do it. You are all teachers and so all
of you know about Abraham Lincoln’s letter to teacher. On 15th August
2007 i.e. on the date prior to 60 years of our independence one sweeper
in Goa wrote to principal of a Vidyalaya. This was a reply in response
to the memo sent by the principal.
letter of casteist discrimination)
the partial extracts which I read just now are a ‘Ardhasatya’.
What then is
the ‘Purnasatya’ of human right?
You are right.
The world is what it is not because some of us are schedule caste or some other
caste. The complete truth is this: The world continues to suffer because we all
are incomplete human beings. *Because the one half doesn’t do its human duties,
the other half doesn’t get human rights.*
please, please, let’s do something.*
Pravin K. Sabnis (cell: