Published: 08th March 2021
Rights paradigm is promoting unbridled selfishness: S Gurumurthy
Gurumurthy, who is also a Chartered Accountant and a journalist, said that the rights paradigm has made the younger generation aloof and even selfish
Editor of Tamil weekly Thuglak, S Gurumurthy said that rights should be coupled with duties for society to prosper. Gurumurthy was speaking at the International Kindness Festival 2021.
Talking about Mahatma Gandhi's interaction with HG Wells about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Gurumurthy emphasised why duties should be given importance. "When HG Wells approached Mahatma Gandhi with his draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and ask Mahatma Gandhi to endorse it, Mahatma Gandhi sent a one-line reply that he would be very glad to endorse it if Wells changed the title from Universal Declaration of Human Rights to Universal Declaration of Human Duties. He gave a beautiful explanation that the duty of one is represented by the rights of others. Underlying one's duty is the right of another," said Gurumurthy
Explaining the concept, Gurumurthy used the example of the relationship between a child and the parents. "The right of a child is embedded in the duty of the parent. But if you look at the rights of the child independent of the relationship then the rights have to be enforced by the third agency — it may be the law, the court or the government. then the cohesiveness of the entire family structure is lost. And if you don't look at relationships as the basis of human life and look at contract and law as the foundation of human life then you are missing something out and bringing in a third element which is corrupt and you are asking a local policeman to settle the disputes between husband and wife under the domestic violence act," he said.
"It requires a comprehensive approach to understand that compassion and love are not products of institutions but are products of individual understanding, which has to be based on the enlightenment a person gets from various sources including spirituality, religion, the social norms and the normative order as distinct from legal order. The world has been moving in a particular direction for the last hundred years based on the rights paradigm — individual rights, human rights, women's rights, gender rights, children's rights, elders rights animal rights. But who is going to enforce all these rights?" asked Gurumurthy.
Gurumurthy said that the rights paradigm has made the younger generation aloof and even selfish. "There is no mechanism that can enforce the rights paradigm other than the institutions which are themselves shaky and collapsing. Liberal democracies are promoting this rights paradigm in a big way. But only 13 per cent of the world lives in liberal democracies. The Foreign Policy magazine's January 2019 issue brought out a very significant report that said liberal democracies are failing all over the world for the reason that the individuals who are the product of the rights paradigm are not taking any interest in public affairs — 35 per cent of the youth in liberal democracies do not go to vote at all. Only 45 per cent of the youth vote and it's a big concern whether the rights paradigm is promoting unbridled selfishness," he said and added. "The Foreign Policy magazine said that it is the Indian democracy that is the silver lining and golden lining in the world. there is something very different about Indian democracy — in the liberal democracies, it is the more educated people who vote, people who have more income vote and the less educated, the minorities, people with lesser income have a lower voting percentage. They are a top-down democracy. They view the world from their own perspective. They create the world from their own perspective. But in India it's different — 75 per cent of the minorities vote, 65 per cent of the backward castes vote and only 49 per cent of the so-called forward castes vote, only 45 per cent of the educated people vote. It is a bottom-upwards democracy — there is a difference between (the other countries and) India which is actually seen as the bulwark of democracies where the rights paradigm in the duties paradigm align," said Gurumurthy who is a Chartered Accountant and also the co-convenor of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch.