Human rights are the basic essential rights that lets an individual live his life with dignity and freedom. And while these are the rights that are the most inalienable, these are also the virtues that have time and again been derided by mockeries of present society. On the occasion of World Human Rights Day today on December 10, let’s applaud 5 human rights activists from India who have gone the extra life to ensure their fellowmen a life of liberty and equality.
One of the most prominent human rights activist from India is Kailash Satyarthi, winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. As the founder of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood movement), Kailash Satyarthi is credited with rescuing more than 80,000 children from child and bonded labour since the 1980s. The International Labour Organisation’s attempt to abolish child labour in all its forms was an initiative that was the outcome of Satyarthi’s relentless efforts towards child rights activism.
Also the architect of the Global March against Child Labor and an integral part of the United Nations’ Education for All initiative, Satyarthi has time and again put his own life in danger while on rescue missions to save children from the clutches of exploitation and torture.
Satyarthi has also been a vocal advocate of labor rights and human rights in general but his major focus has been the cause of troubled children. Kailash Satyarthi is also the founder of the International Center on Child Labor and Education (ICCLE) and the architect and leader of Global Campaign for Education (GCE) a civil society movement working to end the global education crisis and ensuring that States deliver the right of everyone to a free, quality public education.
The December 2012 brutal gang rape incident in Delhi made Satyarthi also emerge as a crusader of changes in the civil society. His active attempts at modifying the Indian Criminal Law to counter Rape and Gender Based Violence eventually led to the promulgation of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in 2013. Satyarthi’s vehement struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education led him to be conferred with the Prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his humanitarian efforts.
The Irom Lady of Manipur, Irom Sharmila’s entire life has been a struggle against discrimination and advocating safety and security for all through repealment of the Armed Forces Security Act that had threatened to jeopardise the freedom of an entire generation of citizens through its thrust on repressive power grants. As an untiring crusader of human rights and their upholdment, Sharmila has also gone on the world’s longest hunger strike for 16 long years to achieve victory and freedom for the oppressed.
Even though international human rights watchdog Amnesty International has declared her to be a ‘prisoner of conscience’, Irom Sharmila has received numerous awards in recognition of her strong will power to end discrimination against the downtrodden sections of society. Sharmila was recepient of the the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights for being “an outstanding person or group, active in the promotion and advocacy of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights”. The Asian Human Rights Commission has also awarded Sharmila with a Lifetime Achievment Award in 2010 in recognition of her untiring efforts towards repealment of the orthodox Armed Forces Act.
Shabana Azmi has been a terrific actor and one from the glamour world who has chosen to utilise her mass reach and star appeal for fighting even for human rights. An active supporter and promulgator of women as well ad child rights, Azmi has been the Goodwill Ambassador of the UN’s Population Fund as well as for the HIV/AIDS programmes for SAARC region. As also a member of the National AIDS Commission (of India), Azmi has been instrumental in fighting the stigma associated with the disease and has emerged as one of the notable human rights activists of India.
As the head of the Delhi forum of the Humans Right Commission, Former Miss India and a prominent Bollywood actress, Nafisa Ali has been one of the foremost forayers into the world of human rights and activism. Particularly supporting women and child’s rights, Ali has also been actively associated with the affliction of AIDS that continue to plague the lives and minds of the society.
Be it gender equality, addiction awareness or advocating education as a basic human right, celebrated Bollywood actor and film maker Gul Panag has always been actively associated with activism in all its forms. Panag runs the Colonel Shamsher Singh Foundation, an NGO that works towards a variety of causes including gender equality and education.