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Awareness on government schemes for differently-abled people

On December 10, 2018, 70th International Human Rights Day was celebrated at Chinthaluru village in Alamuru Mandal of East Godavari District in a very special way. The village president, G. Venkata Narayana Murthy and others observed Differently-Abled People’s Day to understand their rights as people with disabilities.

The programme was animated by Ms. Subbayamma, Liliane Fonds Project Coordinator at PARA, Ravulapalem. She began with a discussion on the etymology of the word differently able. Earlier the word handicapped was being used. This word originated in the late 15th century. King Henry VII of England had asked the disabled veterans to make a living with their ‘cap in hand’, begging for coins. Today the situation has changed. We look at people from a rights perspective. We are not depending on the mercies of the rulers or anyone else. Every citizen has a set of rights which others need to respect. The so-called handicapped, were first seen as those who are disabled, then as physically or mentally challenged, and now as those with different abilities. Now in India, we refer to them as Divyang.

The project coordinator took the opportunity to create awareness on government schemes for differently-abled people and also how they could avail them online. The Mandal Self Help Groups Assistant Programme Manager who was also present, informed the gathering that they could form group of 10 people and save some money, unlike others who need to have 30 members in a group. Once the group was formed the members have the right to receive loans from the government. The village president G Venkata Narayana Murthy, a Divyang, promised that he would do everything in his capacities to help the differently-abled people in the mandal.

Around 35 differently-abled persons participated in the event. The day brought great joy to the group and their families to see life from a very positive and hope-filled perspective. Kudos to the organisers of this unique event.

“PROTECT CHILDREN FROM VIOLENCE”

YaR DAY 2018 – I
Rajamahendravaram, 8-9 December 2018

YaR Day Celebrations – 2018 kick-started with participants singing melodious songs on December 8, 2018 at Nethanja Residential High School, Rajahmundry. Around 300 people, including children of the 6 province YaR centres, teachers and directors of Don Bosco institutes from Rajahmundry, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Kurnool, Warangal and Hyderabad and volunteers from Austria, Germany and Italy took active part in the celebrations. The programme included various games and competitions for all the participants.

State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) member Gandhi Babu was the chief guest. The Salesian Provincial Fr. Vijay Bhaskar SDB, Mayor P Rajani Sesha Sai, Child Welfare Committee Chairperson Mrs. Padmavathi, Rajahmundry SHE Team Assistant Sub-Inspector M. Rasheeda, YSRCP Floor Leader Sharmila Reddy and Oye Ninne fame M Bharat were among the honourable guests who graced the dias.

Addressing the gathering, Fr. Balashowry, the YaR coordinator for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, welcomed SCPCR member Gandhi Babu and everybody present on the occasion. Saying that this is the 20th YaR Day celebrations, he added that children from various parts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh meet every year at this platform to encourage and support each other. He pointed to this year’s theme as “Protect Children from Violence”.

The inaugural session began with all the guests on the stage lighting the lamp at 10:50 am. The Provincial pointed out that Don Bosco considered childhood as a crucial phase of human life and every child should lead a happy and free life. The speaker added that the Don Bosco organisations seek to ensure such a possibility for children. Quoting a study by UNICEF, he said that one youth was succumbing to violence every 5 minutes somewhere in the world. For society to change, we need to change first. The Provincial concluded saying that we all need to work towards a better future of all children. He added that the YaR centres were special NGOs that work with orphans, semi-orphans and children who find shelter on the streets. He added that the organisation not only provide education but also teach them how to love each other and spread love across the society.

Welcoming the theme of the YaR Day, “Protect Children from Violence”, Oye Ninne fame M Bharat said that children should not be subjected to violence. He added that it was important to identify the root cause of a problem to eradicate it. Moreover, the government should adopt children, provide education and see that they succeed in life, the actor said. Saying that education is as important as food, he asked students to study hard and reach high positions. He added that he would work, in consultation with elders, on the root cause of the problem and take action against it. He said that he was determined to establish an orphanage and an old-age home in the name of his grandfather M Rama Rao. The idea was to create a space where orphan children could see parents in elderly people and vice-versa. He concluded saying that he would work towards the welfare of children.

Retired Commerce Prof. V A Narayana said that the government should encourage children with regard to finance, facilities for mental health, etc. Asking the participants not think that they are orphans, he said that they would, one day, become self-supporting. He assured the gathering that some of the participants would become teachers, doctors, engineers, scientists, some day.

Asking to aim high and to dream high, YSRCP floor leader Sharmila Reddy added that everybody had hidden talents. Not everybody may be good at studies, some will be good at music, some at drawing, sports and so on. With several organisations coming forward, child labour – to an extent – has reduced in the city, the YSRCP floor leader claimed. Talking about self, she said that after being elected as the corporator she had adopted two government schools, Nehru Nagar High School and Nehru Nagar Municipal School, which are now providing facilities on par with private institutions.

Rajahmundry SHE team assistant sub-inspector M Rasheeda shocked the audience with the information that about 8,000 men were taken into custody by their team. They were counselled against teasing and bullying women which is actually sexual harassment. Warning against such acts, she asked the participants to respect women and elders, to study hard, and not to get involved in illegal activities.

AKWA founder president Md Arief said that real orphans were not the ones who didn’t have parents but friends. He added that the one who was without an aim was an orphan. He also said that the participants should grow to such an extent where they would be able to guide elders.

Explaining the pressure from politicians while stopping child marriages, resisting violence, talking about child rights, etc, SCPCR member Gandhi Babu said everybody who was drawing salaries from the government were accountable for the future of the children. He questioned the authorities why they were scared to question about the violation of the rights of children. The SCPCR member said those who violate child rights should not go unpunished.

At this point, all the guests who graced the dais were felicitated and given mementos. After the inaugural session the programmes of the YaR day continued. (To be continued)

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Media clippings:

“HEAD TO THINK, HEART TO FEEL & HAND TO HELP”

YaR DAY 2018 – II
Rajamahendravaram, 8-9 December 2018

YaR Day Celebrations – 2018 kick-started with participants singing melodious songs on December 8, 2018 at Nethanja Residential High School, Rajahmundry. Among the 300 participants, besides the children, there were the staff and directors of the 6 YaR centres of the province and volunteers besides the special invitees from Rajahmundry. The progamme had begun with the inaugural session where the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) member Gandhi Babu was the chief guest. After the special invitees and guests had spoken, the YaR Day programmes commenced. These included input sessions as well as games, entertainment and competitions.

Child Welfare Committee chairperson Mrs. Padmavathi began the first input session by remembering the valour and sacrifice of the great Indian Army personnel. On the occasion, she also appreciated the contribution of volunteers from Italy, Germany and Austria. The CWC chairperson affirmed that the real heroes were the ones who challenged and overcame their limitations and contributed to society, and not the ones who became celebrities by acting in films. Mrs. Padmavathi also told the participants several success stories of people with disabilities. She also spoke about 3H formula: Head to Think, Heart to Feel and Hand to Help. She kept challenging the children with questions and awarded those who gave correct answers with prizes.

Post lunch, participants were divided into groups, given topics with regard to child rights and were asked to perform skits to illustrate their understanding. Only three skits could be performed in the given time. The rest would be taken up on the following day. At 5.00 pm Burra Katha team from Ravulapalem gave an impressive Performance. Their narrative was about child rights. Later, the participants from all parts of the Telugu States participated in the dance competitions. While some even performed stunts, others narrated stories through dance form.

After the dance competitions, it was the turn of some of the Guests who had not spoken in the morning to address the gathering. Congratulating the organisers for bringing the Young at Risk children from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to Rajamahendravaram to celebrate YaR Day, the city Mayor, Mrs P Rajani Sesha Sai said that the government was keeping a tab on illegal activities and child abuse. She added that it was the responsibility of everybody to create awareness among children about “good touch and bad touch”. She also spoke of making this city child-friendly. Mrs. Sesha Sai asked the homes to identify the skills of students and encourage them.

Next it was the turn of Bp. Pratap Sinha, the host of the day. For him Don Bosco is the number one institute in Andhra Pradesh working for children and young people. He said that he would always come forward to do his bit for programmes for children.

After the programmes supper was served at around 8.30 pm. After some informal recreation all retired for the night. The boys stayed at the school itself and the girls left for Ekalavya Children’s Home.

Day – 2

The following day started with Vice-Provincial Fr Thomas Santiagu leading prayers along with children for an hour. Later, they had breakfast and all headed for the Forest Park located 10 kilometres away for the day’s outing. Even at the part, initially the children had a session on child rights. The incomplete programmes of the skit competitions were also completed. The winners were given awards. Later the children wandered around the huge campus having fun and enjoying the nature. Later they came together for lunch sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce Trust, Rajahmundry. After lunch the children were taken on a sightseeing trip to the 8-kilometre Dowleswaram Barrage built by Sir Arthur Cotton, the iconic 3.7-kilometre road-cum-rail bridge over the mighty Godavari River and the ISKCON temple.

Later the children from Vijayawada left for Navajeevan. The others spent the night at ECH. They left on the following morning after breakfast to their separate destinations.

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Media Clippings:

INFLUENCING CHANGE

INFLUENCING CHANGE

INFLUENCING CHANGE

  1. A Letter to the Editor: the spark that ignited the “Abolition of Bonded Labour” in India.

It was a sunny morning during the days of the National Emergency in 1975. S.R. Shankaran and his junior colleague S.P. Tucker, both IAS officers, were sitting under a tamarind tree sipping tea and munching chilli bajjis packed in newspaper outside a teashop at Bandi Thandrapadu village on the outskirts of Kurnool town in Andhra Pradesh. A letter to the editor caught the attention of SR Shankaran, known as a people’s officer. It was written by Bishop George Victor Saupin SJ of Daltonganj asking that the government should do something about the plight of the people who are bonded labourers living as slaves in this modern era. Tucker was surprised to see his senior officer carefully fold the oily paper and insert it into his shirt pocket. They had stopped on the roadside to get the pulse of the local people. Instead they had got wind of something horribly wrong in the supposedly free India.

S.R. Shankaran lost no time on this shocking discovery that he shared with his friend. He quickly returned to Mussorie where he was on a teaching assignment. With due permissions from the faculty at this premier institute that trains the nation’s administrators, he set out with a small research group to meet Bishop Saupin of Daltonganj. He got an appointment with the Bishop and presented him the oily paper. After the initial suspicion as to Sankaran being a secret service agent was cleared, the Bishop opened up and explained the terrible situation of bonded labour in his diocese. Shankaran was shocked to find the extent of bonded labour in so many hidden forms. This was slavery continuing in independent India. His research team had plenty of work to do and they set out doing research on the extent and types of bonded labour in the country. By November of the following year, the Parliament had passed The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.

  1. Law is to Effect Justice: Students of Theology effect an amendment to the Law on Minor Minerals in Karnataka

Everything is possible for those who choose to pursue justice. That is the goal of establishing the Kingdom of God. In June 1975, Br. Sebastian John, a third year student of theology, withdrew from his ministry at Chikka-Basavanapura village saying that 8 years of work there by the brothers had not borne fruit. He wanted to stay out to explore other ways of getting Justice. He immersed himself into the study of Liberation Theology, inviting others to join him in the study. The professors and other students were amused at his stance and the group was nicknamed “Liberation group.” Some members of the group, Job, George, John, and Andrew continued to work in the village determined to bring about the liberation of the people. The study bolstered the work. As the understanding of the dynamics of oppression grew, the determination to find a solution was also unabated. One day, Job wrote a letter to the editor with a pen name. That letter changed the history of the village. On November 5, 1975, during the infamous national emergency, two journalists and a photographer from the Indian Express and Kannada Prabha were at the college asking information. The next day the screaming headlines on the front page of the two newspapers along with the vivid photographs stirred the conscience of Bangalore and there was freedom at midday on 6th November 1975 for 40 bonded labour families of Chikka-Basavanapura.

People became free with the contractor and his henchmen put behind the bars. They became their own masters, organising their work as a registered Labour Contract Cooperative Society. Their undoing was their honesty. They kept proper books. The sales were recorded along with the payments received. Weekly payments were made according to the actual work done by individual member. Everything flourished. There was a smile on every face. The children were in neat uniforms and attending school. There was a crèche to care of the children of working mothers. Then one day disaster struck. A jeep of the Karnataka State Department of Minor Mineral stopped at the quarry. They looked at the books and issued a tax arrears memo for Rs. 22,000.00.  They seized the tools of the workers and sped away leaving the people perplexed.

Vested elements work in tandem, the students had studied during their study circle on Liberation Theology. Efforts to convince the officials failed. The released bonded labourers were being penalised for their honesty. This was the only place in the over 200 granite stone quarries around Bangalore that had the problem. Neither the officials nor the politicians could provide an answer; nor did the social activists or the trade unionists. The society continued with the frequent threat from the mining department. One fine day in May 2017, the Chief Secretary of Karnataka came to visit the village. He met the people and assured them a fantastic financial package that included a crusher, quarry licence, house sites and houses, Share capital for the cooperative society according to the membership as well as a large capital deposit from the government. They also agreed to meet the tax amounts demanded by the mines department. President Ramaiah was annoyed. He demanded a change in law so that they would not be harassed in future. The people refused to take the package without the amendment in the mining law. The Chief Secretary expressed his helplessness with regard to the amendment, but they could come at anytime to claim the financial package. They have had to face the corrupt officials so long, and now with even the law against them the future looked bleak. But they were determined to find an answer.

The students of theology stood by the people. They were determined to get the law change. Liberation Theology and readings in Paulo Freire had got the students to look at the deeper causes and find solutions that touched the roots. They were lucky to face a good officer, Mr. K.M. Koti, the State SC/ST Welfare Commissioner. He was a gem of an officer who knew what need to be done. Under his guidance, in spite of disparaging remarks from the so called experts, the brothers worked on a strategy. They had friends among the officials, among the politicians, in the press, among activists and unionists. Why not bring them all together on the same platform? If that were not possible, why not make them all make the same demands?

And this is how the group went about. An article was written on the plight of the liberated bonded labourers. Deccan Chronicle journalists, Imran Quereshi and Sapru agreed to get it published. Mr. Venkatram a Socialist  Trade Unionist friend contacted MLA Michael Fernandes and MLC M. Raghunath. They agreed to take up the matter on the day the article was published. In the meantime a summary of the demands were printed on a single page and given to the Chief Secretary, Special Secretary to the Chief Minister, the Industries Secretary, the Secretary for Cooperatives, the Finance Secretary and the Mining Secretary. Copies also went to the office of the Minister in charge, who happened to the Chief Minister, Devaraj Urs.

Then it all happened quicker than one can imagine. On 17th July Monday, Deccan Chronicle published the article on the plight of the so-called liberated quarry workers who now needed liberation from the current law that oppressed them. As the Assembly was engaged in some serious controversial discussions, the floor mangers changed the plan and decided to raise the issue in the Legislative Council. When Mr. M. Raghunath, then the Youth Congress President raised the issue in the presence of the Chief Minisher Devaraj Urs, the in-charge minister for Minor Mines and Minerals brandishing a copy of the Deccan Chronicle, the Chief Minister was at a loss for words. When asked for their specific demands, the MLC produced the same list of demands that had been circulated simultaneous in all the relevant offices. The Chief Minister promised a response on Wednesday, 19th July. And the response met all the demands, particularly the assurance of an amendment to the law exempting released bonded labourers and labour cooperative societies from the ambit of royalty and other taxes. The amendment was done and gazetted soon after. The people had won a victory and a lot more freedom.

  1. Amendments to AP Panchayat Raj Bill, 1994 at the instance of a federation of Landless Agricultural Labourers

One of the major actions of the Rajiv Gandhi government was the Constitution 73rd Amendment Act 1992 which established the present Panchayat Raj system in India. Social Activists working in rural areas looked at this as an opportunity to mobilise the rural poor towards their empowerment. In Andhra Pradesh some of us were part of the Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Cooleela Samakhya (APVCS) and organised campaigns to take advantage of the new Panchayat Raj set up. We then realised that political parties were also planning to capture power at the village level too. This would impede our future work in the villages. Hence during the annual meeting held at Bhongir, now in the Present Telangana State, we decided to influence the draft Panchayat Raj Bill. We got an appointment with the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) entrusted with the review of the bill and made several proposals. We had the backing of the ruling party and our proposals came through in spite of strong resistance from some of the oppositions parties. One of the proposals that was accepted by the JPC and later became law in the united Andhra Pradesh was that elections to the village panchayat would be on a non-party basis. This law still stands and the work in the villages remain to some extent free of direct political control.

 

Human Rights Education Final

Human Rights Education Final

Universal Periodic Review (Third Cycle)

This report is made as submission for the Third Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review and has no other concern than the improvement of human rights  on the ground and  in particular human rights education framework and practice in India.

  • Introduction and actual context:

On July 11 four young men members of the Chamaar caste, part of the Dalit community, were assaulted and trashed by a group of cow-protection vigilantes in Gujarat’s Una. The victims were stripped, tethered to the back of a car, beaten for hours while hundreds dozens of people were silently witnessing the atrocity.[1] After the divulgation of the new, media was rapidly covered with hundreds of opinions expressing its rejection towards the cow supremacy above dalits dignity and the paper of Government on the increase of violence since Modi took charge in New Delhi, but the instinctive and elementary reflection that everyone should have after reading those kind of atrocities is asking about the values and principles that might have not just the perpetrators but also the witnessed who did not stand up for its neighbors rights. Where did the perpetrators ingest that hate? Which education was given to the observing silent majority? Certainly, they did not attend any kind of Human Rights Education Program. What if a critical mass among them had such an opportunity? What if they had been taught to Celebrate Diversity / Difference which in a nut shell is Human Rights Education Training?

This is just an example of the actual situation in India: many atrocities are committed due to religion, cultural or sexual discrimination while many state departments as Army Forces or Police officers are receiving sharp criticism from civil society for its constant human rights violations around the country. In this context it really important to bear in mind the true power of Human Rights Education (HRE) which promotes “respect for human dignity and equality and participation in democratic decision-making” and “contributes to the long-term prevention of abuses and violent conflict[2]. There is a strong bond between human rights and education as this is the best way to develop active subjects with capacities to promote the values of social and democratic states and spread the culture of human rights across global citizenship.

2- Human Rights Education and Training Legal Duties of the Republic of India

               2.1. Treaties and international bodies

In the Preamble, the United Nations Human Rights Declaration encourages “teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms” and in its article 26.2 it is stated that “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace[3]. This general provision contains the spirit and force of common vision contained  in dozens of international covenants: education as a mean to achieve a more plural, democratic and tolerant society.

India has general but clear duties relating Human Rights Education which are contained in other international treaties in which the is State member. In article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights States parties “agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”. States further agree that “education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups”.[4] (Another declaration of the HRE spirit. States did agree on the development of human personality and dignity skills. If education shall enable all persons to “participate effectively in a free society”, persons need to know rights and duties and the way to exercise them or claim for them in case of rejection from powers).

In the same sense article 29.1(b) of Convention on the Rights of the Child stated that “education of the child shall be directed to the development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations”.[5] Other treaties enshrined the power of education for eradicating specific ways of discriminations. In this direction, article 7 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination establishes the obligation for States parties to “adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information, with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination”.[6]

Other treaties do not impose literally obligations in the field of education, and yet it is clear that education is one of the most critical element in reaching  the goals the state has a mandate to fulfil.  We can find on example of this open legislative imposition in article 5(a) of The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures: To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women”.[7]How could any State change social and cultural patterns? Just through Education, Law and Media. That is the reason why the First phase of the World Programme for HRE (2005-2009) was focused on primary and secondary school, the Second phase (2010-2014) was focused on higher education, teachers, educators, law enforcements and military and the Third phase is focused on media professionals and journalists.

There exists also other kinds of international bodies that has HRE mandates as resolutions or declarations of the General Assembly of the United Nations. The clearest example is the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training adopted in 2011 which do not have binding effect but can assist us in the interpretative task when looking at the commitment of states in comply their duties and can develop into international customary law with the common practice through time. The Declaration recollects brilliantly the content of HRE mentioned dispersed in previous treaties as it states that “Everyone has the right to know, seek and receive information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms and should have access to human rights education and training”.[8]  It also brings interesting ideas as describing HRE as a “lifelong process that concerns all ages” amplifying the scope of the right to other sectors of society which cannot have institutional education. This is important as those who are illiterate are the ones with more  probability to suffer human rights violations due to their lack of knowledge of their rights and the power to raise their voice.

Thus we can identify clear obligations emanating from international binding treatises and declarations that State must ensure human rights education in the educational field: develop human personality, spread the respect on the human rights, enable people to participate effectively in a free society with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and combating discrimination with special attention to gender or race in particularly.

  1. Assessment of the UPR recommendations

2.1. Human Rights in the school curricula

In the Second Universal Periodical Review the Republic of India noted the recommendation expressed by Sri Lanka to “continue with action to include human rights education in the school curricula”.[9] This commitment is similar to the provision contained in the paragraph 79 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action which “calls on all States and institutions to include human rights, humanitarian law, democracy and rule of law as subjects in the curricula of all learning institutions in formal and non-formal settings”. [10] In the next pages we are going to explore the developments and failures on implementations since May 2012 when the recommendation was accepted.

2.1.2 Development since last review

  1. A) Government action

The actual situation in the formal school curricula is the same that in 2012 as no changes had come in the National Curriculum Framework adopted in 2005 by the National Council of Educational Research and Training. Actually, Human Rights in Indian primary and secondary schools are commonly taught in an indirect way using other subjects with history, science, sociological or political content as vehicles of human rights values. For example, in Social Sciences there has been an attempt to have “interdisciplinary approaches, promoting key national concerns such as gender, justice, human rights, and sensitivity to marginalised groups and minorities[11].

This approach of inculcating human rights culture might not be enough if we look to the alarming human rights violations rates in India. As Pranati Panda says “the basic approach to human rights education in schools is to integrate it into various subjects and not treat it as a separate area of study[12]. Another Aquila’s heel of this indirect way is the teachers’ training as most of them lack in having any kind of human rights education knowledge that can assist them in inculcating students the values of the United Nations Human Rights Declaration.

 

This static state of affairs in school curricula might be quite different in the higher education steps. Recently, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) started a certificate course in HRE and the University Grants Commission granted 10.000 lakh to take activities related to human rights education and human rights development, in concrete 25% of the ceiling to research, another 25% of the ceiling to teaching and a 50% of the ceiling to organization of seminars, workshops and conferences.[13]

  1. B) Civil Society action

Instead of this slowl and leaden path of the government towards HRE, civil society   counts in some cases with more than 15 years spreading human rights education through the country. NGOs are providing HRE with various formula: by themselves, jointly with other organizations and in some cases associated with the UN departments. Some examples of this action are discussed below as good examples  that the State scale up to fulfill its responsibility towards human rights education, strengthen the human rights education programs that it has already intiated.

(i) Amnesty International Human Rights for Education Programme has done several workshops and training during the last years in more than 30 schools in Bangalore as part of its wider program called Human Rights Friendly Schools.

(2) The Institute of Human Rights Education (IHRE) has a National Plan in 15 States (Andra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharastra, North Eastern, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) in collaboration with different NGOs. At this moment, the program has trained more than 4476 teachers in 3909 schools involving 316832 children.

(3) People’s Action For Rural Awakening program of setting up 1000 human rights club in 525 government schools in the two states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana with the express collaboration of the government educational department. Despite the willingness of the government to the idea of human rights education and human rights clubs in schools getting the actual permissions for scheduling training session for teachers and students have been a hassle.

2.1.3. Regressive actions if any and actions that remain to be taken for full implementation

The vindictive action by the government against those NGOs who question its commitment to the social and secular ideals of preamble of the constitution and to the rule of has hampered implementation of human rights education program that the those NGOs have assiduously tried to take forward as a response to the call of the UN. A case in point is the punitive action against Institute of Human Rights Education and against SICHREM (ref needed)  Bank account frozen due to foreign donations during several years that affected programs as the one carried on by IHRE.

One of the main omissions in the fulfillment of the school curricula implementation recommendation is the lack of National Action Plan on Human Rights Education.[14] Countries like Senegal, Brazil, France or Japan have national systems in which they develop HRE guidelines and principles and distributed the main responsibilities in the implementation and assessment of the program among different national agencies or department.[15] The actual legal framework in India just brings confusion and does not distribute obligations. The Republic of India is ultimately responsible for the omissions regarding its HRE legal duties and should encourage the draft of a National Plan coming from a joint and participative dialogue between government, the civil society, universities, educative centers, experts in a democratic proceeding. This National Plan should be take into account the country particularities and should create a national organ in charge of its development and assessment.

Some actions which will help to develop the HRE in the school curricula. The first one is to include HRE course in teachers’ training syllabus. Actually, the syllabus in the diploma of elementary education drawn up by the National Council for Teacher Education does not include human rights in a formal way as there is no concrete subject dedicated to the learning of human rights. It can be argued that it is learned in an indirect context as some subjects have political contents which can be related to, but it is not enough as teachers need to have a clear idea of the specific rights, the way to avoid violations and the institutional channels to that can redress them / actualize those rights.

The second one is the reiteration of the recommendation of the Sri Lankan government: the creation of a Human Rights subject, module or course for students in primary and secondary schools, adapted to the different ages and necessities with progressive and more complex contents to achieve in the final steps of education to develop skill of promoting human dignity culture and the awareness and commitment to avoid violations.

2.2. Human Rights training law enforcements:

In the Second Universal Periodical Review the Republic of India noted the recommendation expressed by Malaysa[16] and Iraq[17] to intensify and improve the training programmes on human rights for law enforcements officials, judicial, legal officials and police officers. This recommendation and the moment of the implementation matches with the Second Phase Universal of the World Programme for HRE (2010-2014) that is directed to law enforcement.

2.2.1 Developments since last review

  1. A) Government action

The main agency in India in charge of promoting human rights culture and principles is the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). In the Section 12 (h) of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, the Commission is mandated to “spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means.”[18] The NHRC has targeted different groups which are required special attention in relation to its Human Rights Education or Training among the ones we can find police, judiciary, prison officials, army, para-military forces and civil servants. In the performance of this ‘literacy’ task they provide in-house, short-term, long-term, collaborative programs, internships to students and online basic courses on human rights to police personnel. In the year 2010-2011, when the Commission “approved 123 training programmes relating to various aspects of human rights. Out of these, 67 training programmes were successfully organized by 57 institutions/universities/NGOs[19]. In the same sense, 125 training programmes relating to various aspects of human rights were successfully organized by 50 institutions, universities and NGOs during the year 2011-2012. The problem to evaluate its developments during the last 4 years is due to the lack of publication of the repots – this fact in itself is a clear indication of the human right  education situation in India: the main agency is not observing the basic rules of transparency and accountability. And what has been done in no way matches the enormity of the task that needs to be done.

Other Government organizations has developed training programs during the last years. One example is the National Legal Service issued a resolution on 9 December 2011 in which orders every State Legal Service Authority (SLSA) to implement and provide annual trainings to juvenile or child welfare officers attached to police stations and to the members of special juvenile police unit. It its order it commands the SLSA to “undertake periodic review and appraisal of training programmes and will revise and upgrade such training programmes”.[20] Since then juveniles rights courses are being provided to the members of special juvenile police, but as ERIKA RICKARD says “A further complication with the creation of SJPUs is that officers are transferred in and out of these positions more frequently than the trainings take place (…) Officers are rotated in and out of these specialized positions more frequently than they are given training”.[21]The lack of information available makes it difficult to know the periodicity of its trainings.

The National Judicial Academy India in coordination with State Judicial Academies also provide different courses on Human Rights. For example, last August held the “Annual National Seminar on Working of Human Rights Court in India” and Andra Pradesh Judicial Academy had provided 7 workshops on “Fair Trial in Criminal Cases – Role of Judge as Human Rights Protector and   Provider” for 3 District Judges and 3 JFCMs during the year 2013 and is providing two weeks “Refresher Courses for Junior Civil Judges” working in the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh every year.

Specific trainings are being provided to different law enforcements and police officers especially in the field of child and juveniles, domestic violence and atrocities against scheduled cast and scheduled tribes, etc.

The above citations show that when the government puts is mind to it, we see a movement in creating awareness on critical legislations for protection of human rights of particular section of society on specific thematic areas. Government should use this experience in taking forward the mandate for human rights education. When this task is taken seriously there will be greater scope for reduction of human rights violations in general. Thus we can surely notice   a certain reticence to impart general courses covering all human rights.

  1. B) Civil Society action

As in the primary and secondary school HRE mission, civil society has made significant efforts to impart human rights trainings to police officers and law enforcements. Some of the programs have been done in collaboration with more NGOs, UN programs or local governments.

The following examples may be cited in this regard:

(1) The HAQ Centre for Child Rights have been giving training to police personnel, including Sub-Inspectors, Assistant Sub-Inspectors, Head Constables and Constables since several years. The modules cover various aspects of the JJ Act, the persistence and implications of child trafficking and wider child rights issues.

(2) ENFOLD in collaboration with UNICEF and the Government of Karnataka has trained since 2012 about 1.850 stakeholders among police personnel, social workers, doctors and dept. prosecutors on Child Rights and Child Abuse.

(3) The Centre of Social Research in collaboration with Un Women and the NHRC has also imparted women’s rights and gender equality trainings in different police academies. Actually, they have a gender sensitization training of trainers program at SVP National Police Academy, Hyderabad.

2.2.2. Regressive actions if any and actions that remain to be taken for full implementation

The evaluation of this recommendation has to be valued in a more positive way than the previous recommendation as government had implement at least several training programs among the law enforcements and police officers. Despite that still a lot of actions need to be taken in order to ensure that human rights consciousness among takes root in this vital group of our society.

The training provided was basically specific courses on child or women issues and in the majority of cases the trained police officers were the ones tasked to perform special roles as the Special Juvenile Police Units and Officers. Government seems to be reluctant to give Human rights training per se, while they are comfortable providing training on specific fields. The specialization of human rights content to specific units is as necessary as a general course on human rights where is learned the duties, boundaries and guide lines principles on daily proceedings in accordance with human rights standards. This double dichotomy regarding the specific content and assistants to the training programs shall be addressed.

Another action that should be carried out is the incorporation of a course in human rights in the higher education, at least in the syllabus of those professions which would have later a position to affect in a deeper manner the human rights.  This could bring the chance to study the possible violations of human rights that will be shown in the daily before it occurs in reality.

[1] QUARTZ India. Harish C. Menon: http://qz.com/738758/indias-dalits-strike-back-at-centuries-of-oppression-by-letting-dead-cows-rot-on-the-streets/

[2] Plan of Action. World Program for Human Rights Education. First Phase. United Nations, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. New York and Geneva 2006.

[3] United Nations Human Rights Declaration adopted by United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 General Assembly resolution 217(III) A.

[4] International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights  adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December.

[5] Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989 entry into force 2 September 1990.

[6] International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination adopted and opened for signature and ratification by General Assembly resolution 2106 (XX) of 21 December 1965.

[7] Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women adopted in New York, 18 December 1979.

[8] United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training adopted by resolution General Assembly resolution 66/137 on the 19 of December 2011.

[9] A/HRC/21/10 – Para. 138 & A/HRC/21/10/Add.1 – Para. Page 2

[10] Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action Adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna on 25 June 1993

[11] National Curriculum Framework 2005. National Council of Educational Research and Training. page 127

[12] Human Rights Education in Asian Schools. Human Rights Education in Indian Schools: Curriculum Development. Pranati Panda.Page 91

[13] Annual Report 2012-2015 University Grants Comission. Page 170.

[14]http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Education/Training/Pages/NationalActionPlansHumanRightsEducation.aspx

[15] Idem

[16] A/HRC/21/10 – Para. 138 & A/HRC/21/10/Add.1 – Para. page 4

[17] A/HRC/21/10 – Para. 138 & A/HRC/21/10/Add.1 – Para. page 4

[18] Protection of Human Rights Act 1993

[19] Annual Report 2010-2011. National Human Rights Commission. Chapter 12, page 123

[20] Guideline for training the designated juvenile/child welfare officers attached to every police station and the members of the special juvenile police unit established under the section 63 of the juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2000. U. SARATHCHANDRAN MEMBER-SECRETARY. National Legal Services Authority

[21] Bringing Justice to India’s Children:  Three Reforms to Bridge Practices with Promises in India’s Juvenile Justice System. ERIKA RICKARD & JASON M. SZANYI. Page 120.

RTI Act Celebration

Last 13th October we held the Celebration of the 11th anniversary of Right to Information Act 2005. The program took place at our Ekalvya Training Centre (Ravulapalem) and was an excellent opportunity to create awareness, recall for upcomin14753873_10154739982198729_4428152253662076448_og challenges and congratulate ourselves for the successes achieved so far. In this regard, we reminded the vital importance roles of the activists who help out individuals and also hold government to accountability. This are the new martyrs of today, even as the soldiers guard our frontiers against foreign aggression, these warriors wage a relentless battle against corruption and domestic despoliation. In the last 10 years of the RTI, 39 have lost their lives and over 279 grievously wounded.

Among the public there were the children of our human rights clubs filing RTIs on that day regarding their entitlements for health and education, carrying on a trend they had set in 2013. The different interventions pointed out the role of transparency in relation to the health of the Administration, the importance of the Act to redress the informational gap existing between Government and the common citizen and the necessity to continue spreading their content through the population. For that purpose we made a peacefully and stirring rally from PARA headquarters to the centre of Ravulapalem.

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Time to talk about Child Labour

time to talkLast October 3rd 2006 was held the First Child Committee Meeting at our Ekalavya Children’s Home. It was celebrated in the framework of the ‘Time to talk about Child Work – Children’s views on Children’s work’ initiative sponsored by Kinder not Hilfe.

PARA is happy to be partner in this project that must ensure that voice of child workers around the world is heard at the Fourth Global Child Labour Conference in Argentina. For that purpose we brought together 15 children.

The workshop started with some games with the aim to create a more relaxed atmosphere in which children feel less shy to participate. Later circle was made and Father Thomas explained that their participation was not just an opportunity to amplify the child work advocacy’s perspective, but also their right according to the article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Childs. After that the main objective was fulfilled: boys and girls began to talk. Then we found that among them there were one fisherman, carpenters, masons, seamstress, shop hands and retail sellers. They felt comfortable and shared personal experiences and exposed valuable opinions that will undoubtedly help to enrich the further meetings and the Fourth Global Child Labour Conference. Later, children were asked to capture all previous talks and their feelings in creative way by drawing on posters. By the end of the meeting staff members felt that children’s joy was the happiness of kids doing what they should: drawing, participating and learning. Just like they would do in the school if they had not been child workers.

Hope Island

It is important to look back and remembering the little victories we had achieved in our way. That gives us more strength for coming dares and is what we did last week in the good company of our old friend Father Anthony who was working with PARA long time ago. In 2005 he went to Hope Island with the purpose of reporting the local necessities and implementing adequate measures. In his one and a half year stance in the community, PARA constructed the elementary school, the water tank and was able to provide nets as well as solar panels for each family.

We did not just remember all those good times, but we went back to Hope Island to meet the fishermen and see if the social seed planted 10 years ago was growing healthy. Unfortunately, in the talks with the villagers and walks on the surroundings it was demonstrated that little steps had been taken since PARA’s project finalized and that more efforts must be taken from the Government.

In the way back to the continent we had the common and bitter sensation that progress left people behind.

Dignity, Diversity and Democracy

As in previous occasions, PARA participated at ‘All India Thematic Social Forum: On Dignity, Diversity and Democracy’ that was held on the past 31st of July and 1st of August in Hyderabad. The opening plenary was taken by different young activists from all around India who wIMG-20160805-WA0002ere able to fill the auditorium of illusion and commitment with self-experience stories and sharp critics to the actual Government. Among them, film director Harishankar Nachimuttu reminded Ambedkar words on self-respect struggle and Rohith Vemula example, while Kanhaiya Kumar –the president of the students’ union Jawaharlal Nehru University – closed the round of interventions with ‘Azadi from hunger, corruption, discrimination and backwardness’ shouts.

During the following hours several workshops took place at Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Law College where our Don Bosco students from Ramanthapur were able to perform songs and dances in the cultural events. On the next Human Rights in SFday PARA had the opportunity to share with all the audience Human Rights Club’s experience through the testimonies of several kids coming from Telegana District’s schools. Finally, in the closing plenary the Asian Social Forum slogan ‘Another World is possible’ was reflected and exalted through the powerful speeches of the Adivasi Leader Soni Sori or the transgender activist Revathi among others. Definitively, All India Thematic Social Forum: On Dignity, Diversity and Democracy’ reminded us that another world is really possible through the civil society participation and people’s empowerment.

PARA experience in WSF

First World Social Forum conference took place in Porto Alegre (Brazil) in 2001 aiming to rise the voice of civil society all around the world as a counterbalance to the World Economic Forum and the hegemonic globalization process. PARA was there to claim for Dalit perspective as did in the incoming events that were held in India: Asian Social Forum Hyderabad 2003 and World Social Forum Mumbai 2004.