Human Rights in the Indian Tradition: An Alternative Model
Mahendra P. Singh
Volume 2 Issue 2 (2009)
Picking up the debate on cultural relativism of human rights, this paper traces the Indian tradition of human rights, which is found to be fully supportive of the idea of human rights. The state in the Indian tradition did not, however, acquire or wield the kind of monopoly of power in the secular sphere of society as it did in the West. Consequently, in the Indian tradition the state was not perceived as the sole violator of human rights, though it may have ignored or connived in their violation. For this reason the Indian tradition does not construct the idea of human rights as freedom from state only but as an idea of a society in which each and every individual is entitled to be so placed as to be able to attain its best in life. The state is required not only to keep off the individual but also to facilitate the realization of its best. The state is perceived not an adversary but a facilitator of the interests of the individual. The two must, therefore, work together towards the realization of those interests. In case the state fails to perform its role the individual must have and does have the right to invoke the legal process. This is the conception of human rights that lies in the heart of a common Indian and is incorporated in the Constitution of India.