President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday said that non-discrimination is the first condition for absolute respect for human dignity but despite that, the world is beset with countless prejudices.
Addressing National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) Human Rights Day function today, Kovind said, “Human Rights Day is the ideal occasion to ponder collectively and find ways to overcome such prejudices, which hinder the full realization of individuals’ potential, and thus are not in the interest of society as a whole.”
The President also said that on this day, the world should also debate and discuss the ‘Right to a Healthy Environment and Climate Justice’.
Expressing happiness over the initiatives taken by India at home as well as at the recently held global climate conference, he said that these will go a long way in restoring the health of the planet.
Kovind said that the human rights discourse is justifiably centred on rights but in India, we have always understood, as Gandhiji often reiterated, that rights and duties are two sides of the same coin. “Moreover, the rights of individuals are not held to be absolute but have to be aligned with social context,” he said.
Lauding the work of NHRC for ensuring the rights of the people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the President said, “Several advisories issued by the Commission helped in improving the response,” while also congratulating the Corona warriors for their heroic efforts in protecting people’s Right to Life and Right to Health during the worst pandemic in history, which he said is not over yet.
Earlier, NHRC Chairperson Justice Arun Mishra said that the ‘State’ is bound to provide the facility to reach the minimum standards of health, education and economic opportunities.
“Each individual must share power, material, resources and opportunities without discrimination to achieve harmonious society. Tolerance and inclusion are non-negotiable human rights,” he said.
He further added that it is necessary to provide a remedy to the victims of unfair economic structure and business-related human rights violations.
“Besides, all individuals have the bare minimum right to a safe, clean healthy environment. Our fundamental duty is to proactively save the environment, forest, flora and fauna to strengthen our ‘National Climatic Policy’,” he said.
The NHRC Chairperson also said that the freedom of speech is the most cherished value and fundamental right to be protected.
“However, the extent of freedom of cyber-space both online and offline is a matter of debate, as it has fuelled grave apprehension of its misuse, violating the sovereignty, integrity of the country, public order, decency and morality,” he added.
Acknowledging the contribution of India to humanity during the Covid-19 pandemic, Justice Mishra said that the recovery from the pandemic is an opportunity to ensure an inclusive society, wherein even small vendors do not starve and the digital divide is overcome.