Home / articles / Right to Development – Hon’ble Mr.Justice M.N. Venkatchaliah, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India

Right to Development – Hon’ble Mr.Justice M.N. Venkatchaliah, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India

Child Rights be Secured
Child Rights be Secured

The topic of my talk ranges from the philosophy of human rights, the Universal Declaration and the two covenants', principle of universality, indivisibility, collectivity, interdependence of the rights. The realities of the international economic order has limitations in these aspiration, when democracy human rights, public good and their interdependence and finally on human rights and economic developments. Ladies and gentleman I propose all to one should do in order to do about the future of mankind as we find that it is precarious beginning of the new millennium what that we can expect for the posterity. These are all in the realm of, no more in the realm of speculation. We see it happened in Europe, emergency of the European Economic Community, European Union, it consists of states that are perpetual in war with each other and till almost 1648 a 100 years war was there, and then foundations are laid for emergency of great union of states. 

The BundesBank which is supposed to be one of the most professional banks, managed by experts without shadows of any exchange on our influence had predicted the disastrous consequences of the unification of Germany, wherein the two Germanys were sought to be unified. The prediction was of a economic chaos when the two currencies were equated at par, the product and technology standards of Eastern Germany were no near the famous German standards but when they unified the predictions were of an impending disaster, financial crisis. Everything that the bank predicted came true but the political wisdom and suggestion of the political leaders today made that great European union possible. Hitler wanted a German roof over Europe; Helmut Kohl wanted a European roof over Germany.

In 1998 September when he retired how in a function people gave him standing ovation, that is, people shouted Helmut, Helmut and somebody said, the announcement of retirement is almost equal to the ousts announcing their departure. It was the great tribute European Union paid to him. This human rights culture is been a long time Grotius said that whatever amounted to crimes against humanity was international concern, narrow domestic walls of sovereignty didn’t come in the way. No body that committed crimes against humanity would hide behind the domestic walls of sovereignty. This development received impetus and added significance after the disaster of the World War II, the savagery humanity saw in the course of war was such that it deeply moved the leaders of the world. Roosevelt ,the chairman of the committee to draft Universal Declaration of Human Rights and professor Renic Kesan, the great French internationalist and professor was the chief architect in drafting the declaration. It took him tremendous amounts of efforts and controversies when they said God has made man equal. The Russians said we don’t believe in god don’t put in god here, the Arab nations had their own reservations ultimately some of them didn’t sign the draft.

On 10th of December, 1948 the draft was ready and the General Assembly adopted it. Exactly 20 years later, a very felicitous coincidence Professor Kesan gave a Noble Prize for peace on 10th of Dec 1968. Somebody asked him why do you need a UDHR, great professor paused and said in his own great understatement that men have not always been good he said we need to have the human rights discipline because men have not always been good . I think these words that men have not always been good is a fitting epitaph the 20 century in which we have killed 120 million people in wars.  Have killed 90 million people in conflicts not  unrelated at  religion ,language ,ethnicity and other precarious grounds. The barbarity that humanity witnessed was something that shocked the conscience of nations and they wanted to save the posterity from this disaster.  UDHR is a survival kit for humanity it is a universal charter of fundamental rights it is a global charter of liberty. Then came in 1966, the two covenants ICCPR and ICESCR the two were chasm in the process of engineering the tool appears in retrospect to be some kind which leaves many question marks. Why did the developing countries put them separating the interdependence collectivity, indivisibility, universality of these right, if economic rights and political rights were not speaking in the same terms, hope of universal declaration- that these rights are collective loss its edge. Commenting  on this Philip Alston ,a great scholar in Human rights, has said, “this fiction of individuality these rights are more   invisible than indivisible” . This is the cynical remark that Philip Alston made about the claim of indivisibility.  There is an ease that today the chasm between the west and rest, north and south rich and poor of the world  is something unbelievable .

You rub your eyes is this what humanity can do to itself .. Imagine that just mentioning this morning  3 rich men in the world  are dollar billionaires  one of them is the Microsoft man Bill Gates , other is Warren Buffen and  the  third  is Paul Allan .Just three  humans being  dollar billionaires own as much as the collective income of 2 billion people in the world in 48 states these is enormous disparity of wealth , this kind of speaking in more personal terms  225 rich men in the world have wealth equal  the income of  half of  humanity almost 2 ½ to 3 billion  people of this world . In 1800 the world population was 1billion ,today we are 6 billion the second billion took 131 years to be added, the 6 billion in just 11 years, This is the pace at which human  problems are proliferating . Today if we measure the disparity of technological gap between the rich and poor countries it is the technology that has given them that rank technologically. In 1998 3lakh 37 thousand patents were registered and 91% went to developed countries, which together had the population of 14% of the world. They spent about 70Billion $ in medical research out of this global medical research, budget just about ½  % went to the problems of tropic and developing world. Between 1975 to 1996 the  western world developed 1223new drugs and just 13 of them related to the problems of the developing world. This is all  on  the records  of the human development reports . Is this  the kind of chasm when we speak of  development  and human rights how human rights are to be , interlinked ? Justice Sinha has mentioned  about generation  of  human rights .The first generation   right ,the second generation right ,the right to environment and right to development ,right to humanitarian assistance .Recently  the theory has been the  theory called  wave theory, has replaced generation theory . it is something like a continuous ocean wave coming up one after the other in continuity  is not vertical generation  principle , it’s a concept which is  now gaining ground .One lawyer in England T.Pele wrote about human rights in United Kingdom   Lord Lester who took the lead in drafting of UK human rights  acts of 1998 it came into  force in October 2000  .Lord Lester brought out  a beautiful book called 'Human Rights Law and Practices' and Philip Alston  himself edited a series of articles on  human rights  in context to  some other text. There is enormous disparity in standards of living and consumption. In terms of not to be outdone our own economic system has permitted this disparity as 20% of India’s top rich have 85-87%  of India’s income  and  consumption of the bottom  20% has 1 ½  , the second  has 8%   and the third has 3%  fourth has 2% and  the rest has  1 ½ % . This is the internal economic justice that equity and equality  that  we find in distribution of good things of life .

The  point   that   I wish to  make is how is  that the philosophy of human rights  take its origin from this conceptualization that  by mere facts of birth into the human family an  individual acquire certain rights , there is no trade off in  those rights. Whenever I  see people saying  right goes with duties and by implying that you are not a good human being and you are a vicious person if you don’t discharge your duties, you have no human rights is the kind of implication ,it is the most dangerous assumption statement I have heard recently in human rights discourse . This question of rights and duties are a part of civil law system, you may even impose them  in fundamental and constitutional duties  in the constitution but for a human rights stand they are inalienable they are not subjected to any contract  .That your father is not a criminal you have every right whether you are a vicious person or a wise person  or a virtuous person  a rich or a poor man this the bottom line of minimum right that  is guaranteed to every individual that bottom line can go up you can upward  revise and as long as you say they  move from one person to conduct himself relation to other  in framework of these standards.  So the question of talk of right an obligation is inappropriate  and opposite  to the human right  culture   there can be overlapping ,equalizing of these right with other  right but as discipline  of these right’s is concern it is a sad mistake to think these that it speaks of right and obligation it emerges by virtue of a man ‘s birth into human family . This is the basic, bottom line, whenever we speak when people say well what bout human right of terrorists, the question is terrorist a human being that is reason to misbehave reason to take the gun the injustice of society very often he decided a man the beyond borders of our civilization and whole trouble is that whenever a man disagrees with that we make him our opponent. You don’t tolerate this agreement moment he assets he views we make him our opponent our enemy. See we have a great knack of making those who disagree with us or those who are our opponent our enemies. This process has produces a lot of discontent in the world and this talk of rights an duties in human rights discourse in inappropriate, this is an inalienable right. This process has produced a lot of discontent in the world and this talk of rights and duties in human rights discourse is inappropriate as these are in alienable rights not to be tortured. Whole meaning has been distorted and has made human rights discourse contentious, adversary with the result that everything is being put into a kind of angry discussion. 42 out of 48 high income countries in the world are countries which have per capita income of 20,000 US$, 42 out of 48 countries rank the most in high human development list hierarchy. These are the country in which this line of  human development have gone parallel to see the outcome which in many countries, developed countries with high income.

You will see the schedule in the human development report of high income countries. 17 countries  have less than 10 million population, about 11 countries have just 5 million population that half of the population of Bangalore or 1/3 of the population of Delhi at a state, a country, a nation with a population of just 5 million people have their own parliament, their own Supreme Court, Judicial system and here a district of 5 million population is controlled by a bunch of collectors and they all are not brilliant people, but age wise access to justice the reassurance of remedial measures is one of the most important things we see almost at each district. There are uncovered people and they are all in the hands of what we condemn as naxalite, people have not accepted your central justice and sense of proportion and if you sit across a table and I am the devil advocates to argue the case in a way which perhaps most of you will agree that there have some burning issues which makes them revolt against the existing system and this fundamental lack of equality in justice, lack of concern for recentness of poor, lack of opportunities these are the things which have deep concerns of human rights dialogue. Somebody asks me what are the biggest issues in human rights debate inIndia. First and foremost is the maternal anemia; second is education of the girl child. Maternal anemia is such that at one point of time 57% of all pregnant mothers are anemic. This is almost 71% amongst Dalits, tribal women. A pregnant mother who is anemic gives birth to a child which is less than 4.5 pounds all to a birth rate the low birth rate is than related to neurological problems which make the child uneducable not only mentally retarded but its intellectual capacity for participation in future as an individual to participate in delight is totally absent and this is the biggest in the country. Statistics shows that how many such children are born every minute. Secondly the education of  girl child, we are shouting about poverty, population, you just seen Kerala is certainly not a high per capital income state, but in Kerala the population fertility rate is 1.7 and it is as good as that in France, UK and even better than US, where it is 2, in China it is 1.9.  In fact mortality rate in urban Kerala is just 12 so much so  that two years ago United Nations Human Development report made a statement that a child born in Kerala today can expect to do longer than a child in Washington. The third aspect is poverty and it is a very difficult thing. Today scholars have analyses what is the cause, the myth of poverty of III World. The savings of the poor in the poor country is phenomenon then they estimate made in  a beautiful book. I thing it is a part of every scholar of human rights should go through them. Deeply influential books come about in a recent year or two one of them is by Captain Fernando de Soute by a Latin American economics,  he spoke about poverty of developing world he said that the savings of the poor and developing countries is 9.3 trillion dollars, 9.3 is figure worth pondering. It is twice American circulating money, it is equal to the entire value of all the 20 Stock Exchanges of the World, then it is 93 times all the foreign assistance issued by developing countries. in the Last 30 years this is the savings of poor and United States, and enhances foreign aid to .7% of its GDP as recommended by UN. It will take the richest country under the sun 150 years to transfer to the poor the wealth they actually possess, this is the mystery of poverty. The myth of poverty in developing countries but where is this wealth. It is logged up in investment coupled laboursly works and put up a shanty line for 30 years in a plot of land which strictly, legally does not belong to them. In Latin America one experience of giving ownership rights to the people who have been therefore over 30 to 40 years has made an enormous change in the economic scenario. You can’t wish them away – you treat them as dispossessed. 

 One of the great human right issues is the defect in legal system of dealing with property rights and this, he argues, that just by one legislation in  one country they cannot unwish the whole of this part and made the goal convert their savings into viable assets. They have made it to useful capitals what was logged up as an unseen wealth, this is one of those great things that the developing world needs. This speaks of a story, the sort of mentioning of a story of a professor who criss –crossed the entire America, delivering lectures on this topic. He spoke of an Indian who had been promised a great wealth, treasure by a prophet, that you would come by a great treasure when you won’t be in search of it. He travelled whole of the World and came back unsuccessful, to his home, said and defeated. He needed drink of water; a well in his house had dried up. He took a spade and dug into it, in search of water and discovered the hidden treasure. This is how came up Golconda the Gold and Diamond Mines that’s why he said that you don’t have to search for money. In the embassies of the foreign countries, don’t go to international institution with begging bowls. In your own towns   enormous amount of wealth lies hidden in the form of human capital and savings of the poor. This needs unleashing by appropriately placed relations. Condorson, a great French mathematician who spoke about population, predicted that as reason progresses population would come down. Malthus- who founded the Malthusian theory – said something else. He said its not the progress of reason, it is the regression of opportunities and wealth that operates as limitations as somebody said development is the best contraceptive. This argument you see in Kerala  It is not the wealth or the lack of wealth and it is no favor its simply education of the girl –child . The standards are for everyone to see the number of childbirth that occurred though small, but under medical supervision is almost 96%  .In UP and UA it is about 7-11%. If you take the number of girl children in the age group of 12 who have not seen school at all is 68% in U.P. and just 1% in Kerala . You take the no of hospitals beds for a million population you have in general in the average in this country it is about 360-400 in U.P. and 2700 in Kerala it is all possible not because of our spiritual heritage or culture of so called cultural values, they have their own place there is no doubt but it was possible by break through in basic sciences, immunology and anti-biotics and nutrition.

This is the way in which the kind of transformations occurred then professor ***** has said that the status of girl education in Kerala is far superior to any province of China and the pre economic reforms statures of human rights of human development determines the post  –reform, rewards that you get and in a quarter say this is where the link between human rights and development, health ,education ,security and dignity they are  all great regards of developments are themselves essentials to the progress of development and I have said  this very intensely that though it looked, sound like a common ground . health ,education  ,security ,well being ,security ,sanitation ,drinking water ,dignity , these are not social gains of economic reforms ,but  economic gains of  social reforms. though it look a little contradictory the II though you have realized is a very foundation of development  and prosperity is your ability to place human rights ,Human dignity ,education health  in core of your program you place human rights in the entire of your programs and policies there you build a world  of prosperity  it depends on how you are going to respect and celebrate human rights only means of economic prosperity human rights enable people to participate engage in economic participation, enhance their opportunities of participation these  have been in loading wealth  it is  not that rebuild economic empires that  has education and poor people as a charity , it is the old Christian faith that god created poor so that the rich may be charitable  this is not the  world of human rights  this is where we interlink the human rights to development them we have this future of mankind build based on the great administrator who build a very powerful state and economics at Singapore *** he laid a thesis called as lee thesis in the development economics  he said democracy and development are enemies if you want development don’t have democracy . this is his argument but excepting  2 countries all rich countries in the world in which the per capita  income is more than 20,000 $ are democracies. In the last 20 years   81 more countries hae moved into the democratic world-17 of them had military regimes. In the last 10 years the no of countries that have adopted and ratified the 2 covenants has raised from 60to 150 in the last 10 years alone in the last 10 years the no of newspapers  today in the developing world the newspapers are about 60    .  It arose from 29 to 60 per thousand population the use  of  television  has increased four –fold  today if  you walk in the stree5t you head high that you hae your constitutional rights it is of account of your democratic process, it is ideal to think that we should  have a trade –off between  democracies and development . Human rights and development interact in this rail, human development and economic development go hand in hand  without the one the other is impossible and illusory . Even if it  is possible it is not enduring and strong foundation of economic development and prosperity led in the celebration of human rights  control  of your agenda you are lost , it is a lesson of development  world agenda . the growth is unlimited with technology and science  rewards of technology are unlimited , in the next 20-30 years you will see unprecedented changes in lifestyles ,mindsets  in the world picture , it will be a remarkably ,different king of set up  and economic community lime the European economic communities  tremendous prosperity is insight only thing is that the indispensable foundation of this great vision of our future is human rights to be place as a stepping stone for all developments.

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