Sei sulla pagina 1di 15

PHILOSOPHY OF HUMAN RIGHTS: FOR OR AGAINST DALITS

Philosophy of Human Rights: For or Against Dalits


S. Lourdunathan*
The purpose of this paper is (i) to situate and explore the historical evolution of human rights discourse, (ii) to engage a critique of it in order (iii) to pave the way for a Dalit Discourse of/for human rights assertions. Accordingly, the first part of the discussion elicits the human in the ancient, medieval and modernist human right discourses, in turn provides the philosophical/theoretical basis for a discussion on human rights and the second part unveils the non-human in these discourses as to argue for a Dalit context specific human right discourse i.e., inclusive of the legal, social, political and cultural facets of human rights assertions. Historical Visual of Human Rights Discourse Human rights though 20th century cognition has its roots in specific historical cultural milieu. Historically situated human the rights discourse can be located and conceptualized within the patterns of Ancient, Medieval and the Modern civilizations. Hence we need to clarify these cultural contexts for a proper perspectival understanding of human rights of/for Dalit human rights discourse. The searching question hence is to identify the human in the Ancient, Medieval and the Modern epochs with an incessant question whether such human really represents the rights of the subjugated human of the periphery. The Human of the Greek, Roman and the Indian Aristotle, one of the greatest thinkers, provides premier reflections on human rights. He speaks of isogoria, or equal freedom of speech, and isonomia or equality before the law as the fundamental rights and inherent values of the citizen of the Greek city-state. These rights were
* Reader & Head, Department of Philosophy, Arul Anandar (Autonomous) College, Karumathur, Tamilnadu email: nathanlourdu1960@gmail.com

SOCIAL ACTION VOL. 61 JANUARY MARCH 2011

considered to be natural law of governance of the nation on whose foundation ideal of democracy was conceived. Later the Stoic philosophers reformulated these principles of governance as natural rights premised on the belief that all humans are equal and so have equal rights. The Romans who pioneered in providing a legal system considered these natural rights as jus gentium or commune omnium hominum jus meaning common law of all humans which provide the foremost legal basis for claiming human rights of the individual citizen.1 Within the ancient Indian Vedic literature, the idea of right is inclusive of the notions of duty (dharma) and obligation (rna). The individual is predetermined to be born in a specified caste (varna) segment and has to abide by both self-imposed (svadharma) and socially imposed ( visesadharma ) duties and obligations of the caste system (varnashramadharma) in a spirit of detachment (niskamakarma) as to pass through jivanmukti to attain videhamukti or liberation. The ethical ideals (purusarthas) of the most orthodox systems of Indian philosophy insist that it is imperative that s/he performs the duties and obligations pertaining to his varna as it would promote a cohesive social order. The Human in the Medieval England In Medieval England, within the monarchic rule, the famous Magna Carta (originally known as The Great Charter of the Liberties of England and the Liberties of the Forest, signed by King John of England and was issued on 15 June 1215) first time in history has its legal pronouncements regarding the rights and liberties of the individual citizens namely the barons, simultaneously bordering the infringing limits of the sovereign, the ruler. By the time of the English Civil War, Magna Carta had become an important symbol for those who wished to show that the King was bound by the law. The Human in the Enlightenment-Modern European Ethos The period of the modern European that summated in the twentieth century does provide the recent versions of human rights. John Locke (1632-1704), the author of several works such as, Second Treatise of Civil Government (deals with principles of governance), An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (deals with the extent and limits of human understanding), and Two Treatises of Civil Government

PHILOSOPHY OF HUMAN RIGHTS: FOR OR AGAINST DALITS

and the Letters Concerning Toleration (deal with conflicts in Church and English politics)2 etc. have had an enormous impact on our thinking on human rights in the 20th century. Lockes ideas very likely played a role in the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. He wrote extensively on the right to life, liberty and property that influenced the English politics to bring about democracy as against the monarchic of the English rule. The English Bill of Rights (1689) is yet another major leap in revolutionizing the ideas of human rights which proclaimed, All men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any contract, deprive or divest their posterity: namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property and pursuing and obtaining happiness.3 The writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau provided impulse for human right assertions in the West. His Social Contract, known as the Bible of French revolution, inspired the need for self governance relying on the ideas that human is autonomous, rational and hence free to set forth a social contract to establish democratic governance. In 1789, shortly after the American Revolution, the French rebelled against the tyranny of King Louis XVI. The rebels forced the king to sign The Declaration of the Rights of Man. This statement guaranteed freedom of speech and freedom of the press and basic rights to liberty, property, equality and security and these rights are inalienable.4 The United States Constitution (1789) declared abolition of slavery and pronounced individual right to freedom as birth right, irrespective of any boundaries of nation, religion, language, colour, etc. The famous words of the Declaration of Independence reads: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the following years many countries adopted human rights legislation. At the end of World War II, in 1945, the Holocaust shocked and appalled people all over the world. Regrettably, it resulted from the loss of millions of lives. In response to this human catastrophe, 45 nations created an international organization that pledged to promote universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. That organization is the United Nations. It was founded in 1945. The chapter of the United Nations, San Francisco on 25 June

SOCIAL ACTION VOL. 61 JANUARY MARCH 2011

1945, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948 adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the two covenants for the observance of human rights by the General Assembly in December 1966, that came into force in December 1976 etc. are notable milestones in the history of human rights assertions. However, we need to take hold of the truth that human rights discourses in the Ancient, Medieval and Modern epochs did represent the rights of the privileged sections only. Contemporary Developments There were still many human rights violations around the world. Some countries had dictators who abused the rights of citizens. Other countries, such as East Timor, continue to face violence and human rights violations as they struggle for independence. And long-standing civil wars, such as the one that continues to plague the Middle East, continue to be the source of countless human rights violations. In Canada, treatment of aboriginal people continues to raise many human rights issues as disputes over things such as treaty rights, taxation, land claims, hunting and fishing rights. The Sri Lankan vs. Tamil Elam conflict is an ever sorrowful endemic episode of human tragedy and violations. However, recent history also provides us with some positive human rights milestones. In 1989 and 1990 the world saw the end of the totalitarian regimes of the Eastern Bloc, as those countries became open to democracy. The fall of the Berlin wall was symbolic of this change. Where once citizens of countries such as Czechoslovakia and the former U.S.S.R. could not leave their countries, and were subject to arbitrary imprisonment, people could now move freely across the borders and elect their own governments. About this time the world also saw the first steps to end the oppressive apartheid regime in South Africa. In 1995, South Africa had its first multi-racial election in decades, ending 80 years of whiteonly rule. The Not-So-Human within the Historical Human Rights Discourse Having situated ourselves in the evolutionary context of human rights discourses, we need to ponder on these issues: Whether theses human rights assertions speak about human Rights of the underprivileged sections of people in the history of humanity?

PHILOSOPHY OF HUMAN RIGHTS: FOR OR AGAINST DALITS

To what extent do they historically, conceptually and factually include/present or represent the Dalit voice against human rights violations? This means that Dalit assertion of human rights need to employ a critical reading of the very human rights discourse itself in order to hermeneutically render the universal human rights discourse as to present the Dalit voice in the most specific authentic manner possible. The ideal of universal human rights is significantly distinguishable from the ideal of Dalit-specific human rights because the problems and the cultural context of them are distinct and different. It is too nave to claim or believe that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a pinnacle of solution to all human rights violations in the world. In fact, the evolutionary inference of international human rights never had any Slavery or Dalitcontext addressed by it. Hence a Dalit reading of the history of the human rights evolution however appreciative and adoptive of it does take into account a significant question whether the above mentioned milestones of human rights assertions have anyway represented, reflected and presented the rights of the subjugated and the oppressed slave-sections of humanity. Slavery, not the Address of Human Rights Discourse Slavery and subjugation of the slaves prevailed in all these civilizations. Slave-owning was officially institutionalized, justified and sanctified in most of their philosophies and religious dogmas. The pride of citizenship lay in the number of the slaves one possessed. Through uncivilized means such as continuous waging wars against the surrounding nations and tribes, kidnapping, selling and buying, these civilizations turned the prisoners and fragile nations people as slaves forever5. Slavery was a very large institution in ancient Rome. It was a normal practice of Roman society. It was not unusual for even a home of moderate means to have slaves. Slaves did all the work that the Romans did not want to do. They were often captives that were taken after the Roman army conquered other territories. When they were being sold, slaves would be displayed at the marketplace with signs around their necks giving details about them. Slaves had very few rights, and owners could treat them badly with very little fear of any legal consequences.6 For Plato and Aristotle, and Alexander, (the masters and disciples) slavery is the human right of those who are

SOCIAL ACTION VOL. 61 JANUARY MARCH 2011

mighty. Aristotle, early in the Politics says: There is a slave or slavery by law as well as by nature. The law of which I speak is a sort of convention the law by which whatever is taken in war is supposed to belong to the victors. But this right many jurists impeach, as they would an orator who brought forward an unconstitutional measure: they detest the notion that, because one man has the power of doing violence and is superior in brute strength, another shall be his slave and subject.7 For the Greeks, men because of their masculinity are superior over women and hence women are not to be treated with equal rights. They are to be submissive to the male-owner-partner. Here is what Aristotle says: Where then there is such a difference as that between soul and body, or between men and animals (as in the case of those whose business is to use their body, and who can do nothing better), the lower sort are by nature slaves, and it is better for them as for all inferiors that they should be under the rule of a master. For he who can be, and therefore is, anothers and he who participates in rational principle enough to apprehend, but not to have, such a principle, is a slave by nature. It is clear, then, that some men are by nature free, and others slaves, and that for these latter slavery is both expedient and right. 8 The caste Indian ethos is textually (Vedic) and socially structured slaveowning society that excluded the ethnic groups as outcastes and hence untouchables, (Dalits) relegating them to materiality, menial, manual and servicing occupations and thereby inhuman ill treatments. Innumerable Vedic texts and incidents of discrimination against Dalits could be instantiated to this effect. Slavery in India is historical and scriptural and what is predominantly historical of India is its ongoing history of caste-enslavement, the yoke of it falls heavily on the Dalits in manifold (direct and indirect) ways of inhuman treatment. It is far from truth if we claim that what is universal and all-unifying factor of Indian society is not its religion(s) or spirituality but its determined practice of the violations of the Dalits transcending linguistic and religious borders. The Medieval and the Modern discussions on human rights mostly represented the rights of the privileged people. John Locke, the famous pronouncer of the liberty, freedom and right to property and life, for example worked as the secretary of the colonial trade and he bargained and protested for the ruling power of the privileged sections and not necessarily of the freedom of the English colonial countries. The issue of Locks resistance to slavery is not necessarily inclusive of the slavery

PHILOSOPHY OF HUMAN RIGHTS: FOR OR AGAINST DALITS

of the Africans or African Americans, but against the monarchical England and also Stuarts attempt to enslave the English people. Locke was up to his neck in the slave trade as a government official, and an active commercial envoy until a few years before he wrote the Two Treatises. So, while the chief reason for writing the book may have been to justify resistance to the King, a subsidiary reason perhaps is to justify the practices of the Afro-American slave trade, because Locke viewed it as so important to the national power of England and he seems to have considered Afro-American slavery justifiable because Black Africans are not humans or are so subhuman that the theory of his natural rights and the theory of slavery of the Second Treatise does not apply to them. In the course of the history of liberal tradition, the slaves, heathens, barbarians, colonized peoples, nature, indigenous peoples, women, children, the impoverished and the insane ones, have been thought and relegated to the sphere of unworthy of being considered human because they were considered non-rational. The enlightenment discourse on reason, progress, capitalism, development, etc. are founded on the rationality of exclusion of the Other. The Rights of Man were applied to those who are deemed rational, elite, ruling, powerful, and those who possess autonomous moral will and reason. This is the peculiar ontological construction that provided the purview of human rights discourse of modernist paradigm. The net result of such ontological construction is to accomplish the justification of the unjustifiable: namely, colonialism and imperialism. Such justification inherently remained racist; the superior race by virtue of it being defined rational-autonomous, pre-supposed the priority of colonizing the Other. The Other, not being fully human, is liable to be merchandised and commoditized in the colonial market. The Other constitutes the raw material to establish my rational supremacy. The Other is a not-sufficiently human, and therefore does not have any autonomous rights. The language here is a language of governance of the Other. The collective human right of the colonizer to keep the world in order absolutises its power (power of property (economic) and state rule (political)). The ruled Other is made invisible in the sight of the ruler. Their suffering was denied of any authentic voice, for it is not constitutive of human suffering. The rhetoric here of the modernist versions of human right discourse is universality, indivisibility, interdependence, inalienability of human rights of the elite few, organic,

SOCIAL ACTION VOL. 61 JANUARY MARCH 2011

natural etc. Sabine Broeck, in his work on Slavery, Enlightenment, Critical Theory observes: Even though the extent to which Western economies and societies have profited from the internationally expansive phenomenon of slave trading; transatlantic modernity was socially, culturally and economically made and mobilized in crucial ways by the slave trading economy with its relentless hegemonial insistences. 9 Clarifying Human Rights Perspectives of/for Dalit Human Rights Discourse Instead of unwarranted returns to the glorification of human rights as embedded in the ancient Vedic, Greek, Roman, Medieval and Modern texts (be it religious or secular) it is worthwhile to consider the different ways of understanding and perceiving the human rights discourse as to enable a perspective of/for Dalit human rights discourse. By perspective we mean the way(s) of looking at at a datum for analysis. It is the foreground that colour, influences ones social attitudes and relations. Such ways of looking are multiple. Taking into consideration the historical context of human rights evolution, we need to clarify the different paradigms in understanding human rights. Taking the historical context of human rights we may identify paradigmatic differences of human right approaches/functions for reasons of clarity and analysis and critique. They may be classified into: (i) Human rights as a moral discourse (ii) Human rights as a legal grammar and language of governance (iii) Human rights as a politically irritant regime (iv) Human rights as a socially progressive paradigm for insurrectionary praxis (v) Human rights as a culturally discourse for dalit Assertion (i) Human Rights as a Moral Discourse Human rights are conceived to be the ten commandments the moral principles as an ought to question to be categorically obeyed in the Kantian spirit of categorical imperative. Such a way of looking at human rights discourse raises the absolute ethical question, what individuals and communities ought to desire? Accordingly its response is that there are ethical values such as human dignity, integrity, and

PHILOSOPHY OF HUMAN RIGHTS: FOR OR AGAINST DALITS

well-being and the individual and the State are invoked to be moral. Ones social life is judged from this standpoint. It calls for a common consensus respect towards other person, as a co-equal considering that the human is the ground of all ethics. It attempts to provide universally valid norms for human conduct and structure of society. It consists of full recognition of the fact that human rights as a sole source of solidarity among strangers, conceding one another the right to remain strangers. (Jurgan Habermas). Taking to this perspective, human rights declarations are treated as providing moral standards to evaluate the existing state of affairs regarding human rights violations. It is a call for the State and the individual to be ethical, just-based and legally-binding, and accountable to the protection of human dignity of its individual members. The problem in this position is that it remains to be religious or catechetical with mere moral invocation to be good and do good in the face of enormous human rights violations and discriminatory practices. Is human morally binding? If yes, then given the enormous spiritual and religions assertions of values such as faith, love, justice, brotherhood, equality, spirituality, etc. why still most humans are not so human except being proud of belonging to this or that religion. Humans are more religionists than humanists in ethic and these means that mere moral invocations do not hold water except the purpose of examining the conscience with no or little practical intent and content. The rationale that someone can be religionist without being ethical and another one can be ethical without being religionist implies the inference that mere moral invocations do not suffice to sustainably respond to human rights violations against the Dalits in the Indian context. (ii) Human Rights as a Legal Grammar and Language of Governance In this perspective, human rights discourse is viewed as providing the (legal) ground of the grammar and language for national and international governance. Here the Universal Declarations of Human Rights are seen as legal standards of law or the rules of law towards which nations are called upon to ground their governance. It is to see human rights discourse as legal foundation beyond the territories of nationstates. International relations and organizations need to be governed by a system of meaning for human rights. It is to develop international human rights law and legal system. Any State or structural violations of human rights is seen as inconsistent with the laws of such human

10

SOCIAL ACTION VOL. 61 JANUARY MARCH 2011

rights. Most human rights watches thrive upon this perspective of human rights by keeping watch of any human rights violations for international representations if not necessarily of the radical critique and questioning of such violations as to bring about human dignity. Human rights are seen here as normative for governance. It emphasizes the democratic rights of the peoples over and against the state violations. The practices of global governance needs to legitimated in recourse to human rights languages. In this perspective justice is legal and political not necessarily moral and social. Human exploitation, rights violation and discriminations are considered just legal issues rather than a social shame to be radically questioned. In such a paradigm one can be legally non-discriminatory but socially discriminatory for the legal governance is insufficient to look deeply on the social problem of (Dalit) discrimination and its moral dimension. For example, in the Indian social context a non-Dalit can be a standardised lawyer-professional but socially caste-constitutive. A Dalit lawyer by profession, even be Supreme Court judge, but he cannot find exodus to his social status as an untouchable. This is exactly the problematic of conceiving human rights discourse purely from a legal point of view as a linguistic grammar of inter/national governance. The international standards of human rights often suffer from these local-social intricacies of human rights violations and discrimination and on the contrary they may tend to be silent over such local issues on the pretext that the Dalit problem is domestic and necessarily international. Christopher S. Nwodo cautions that the legal aspect is established by the fact of these rights being incorporated into some international charter or nations constitution. But legality does not always imply morality. For the legal to be at the same time moral, it has to satisfy some conditions that give it a moral status making it more binding at least in conscience.10 (iii) Human Rights as a Politically and Economically Irritant Regime Human rights discourse is often seen as a politically irritant regime that infringes into the national borders of sovereignty and as disturbing the unfettered expansion of transnational globalization, liberalization and the communicative sovereignty of the world/trade organisations. Added to this economic neo-colonialism, human rights discourse is resisted by the political powers because the distinct nation-politics consider human rights discourse as an infringement into the boundaries of their own territory.

PHILOSOPHY OF HUMAN RIGHTS: FOR OR AGAINST DALITS

11

The nation-politics could consider it as crossing the borders of their own legal and national territories enforcing into their autonomy and democratic space and therefore unfriendly. The plea here is that individual national human rights problems are domestic and not transnational and hence such infringement is a matter of irritant regime. For example, in the recent summit in South Africa on the question of Casteism vs. Racism, the official-representative version of the Indian government held that Casteism and Dalit discrimination is a domestic issue and therefore need not be discussed at the international forum. (iv) Human Rights as a Socially Progressive Paradigm for Insurrectionary Praxis Through struggles and movements against injustice human rights discourse is seen as a fertile arena of transformative social and political practice that helps to destabilize and disorient the deeply unjust concentrations of political, social, economic, and technological power centres (national or transnational). Movements for decolonization, and self-determination and elimination of apartheid, womens rights as human rights, some Dalit NGOS, ecological movements, and many nongovernmental organisations, etc. eschew such a perspective of human rights. For them, human rights assertion is within the paradigms of modernity (that consider human as rational and autonomous, hence has an intrinsic right) do believe that human rights practice is an insurrectionary praxis often forgetting the fact that modernity with all its claims of human dignity and progress is still a failed or farfetched narrative. The late modern criticisms against modernity need to be discussed and responded seriously as they pronounce the erosion and end of modernity (Lyotard), the death of the centric self (Derrida), dominance of the metaphysical presence of the Western Self with view of celebration of the related-plurality of the selves as to present the voice of the suffering Other (Levinas).11 (v) Human Rights as a Culturally Contested Discourse for Dalit Assertion Relying on the insights of post-colonial critique, and post-modern warnings against modernist-metanarratives, contemporary Dalit human rights discourse needs to consider human rights discourse as a culturally contested issue augmenting a specific space for Dalit voice of resistance and reassurance for Dalit rights not only legally but politically and

12

SOCIAL ACTION VOL. 61 JANUARY MARCH 2011

socio-culturally. In this discourse, the universality of human rights and the particularity of human rights, pertaining to each particular social culture is contested. Every social culture is encapsulated with its own meanings of human rights violations. Each culture has a specific sense of what is meant by human and what is meant by inhuman or nonhuman. Within this conte(x)st, the questions such as: is human rights discourse, a discourse of the elite or the upper-class/caste groups (illustrado)? Or a discourse of the indigenous (indio), namely the Dalits? In other words Dalit human right discourse attempts to address the radical evils of historical, practical, ideological and social estrangement of the Dalits. It is not only a legal issue to be represented by the unrepresentative non-Dalit speech-acts because often the non-Dalit discourse on Dalit human rights fall within the techniques of persuasion and as means of creating awareness to the universality of human rights or as means to veil the Dalit pathos in its specific multitudes. Most often, the primary voice of the Dalit suffering is turned as raw material and projected and trans-nationalized for international human right marketing of universality. The Dalit human rights problem is repressed and ironically turned into a Dalit Capital through international communicative affluence for social power and profit interests. Within this paradigm, prominent issues for a Dalit discourse on human rights (and for any discriminated sections) may include: That the universal claim of Human Rights is not really universal but has always represented and formulated universalized dominant view of the privileged sections of humanity. This propels a sense of neo-colonialism in the language of freedom, liberty, rationality and individuality. Hence the question is how could it happen that the history of the inscription, and dissemination of the Enlightenments insistence on freedom as the human subjects universal right could write the slave trade out of modernitys self-reflexivity almost completely, displacing the issue of human rights violations of the colonized, the underdogs, the women, and the discriminated sections of the Third World excluding the Dalit discrimination in the Asian Pacific. And why and how discourses of liberation such as Dalitism, feminism, etc. fail to contest/debate and expose the ontological, epistemological and social implications of the European colour discourse on human rights?

PHILOSOPHY OF HUMAN RIGHTS: FOR OR AGAINST DALITS

13

Does it imply that a Dalit discourse on human rights has to engage an ongoing moment of de-colonizing the universal human rights discourse? Since the subject called human in the Ancient, Medieval and Modern civilization excludes the oppressed (as subhuman, not rational, not moral, and therefore not rightful) a discourse on Dalit human rights has to necessarily engage ongoing epistemological suspicion12 of the human subjects and human rights watches pronounced in public discourse. Dalit disclosure and assertion of human rights imply a serious sense of deconstruction of the metaphysical presence 13 of the dominant European (Parmenides Being and Descartes cogito, and Nietzches superman and the Caste Indian touchable human that have been historically standardized as the only human who are culturally and philosophically construed to be possessed of rights to social power and life. Dalits Rights As The notion of rights for the Dalits has several inclusive images. It is basically an existential issue, an argument for Dalit existence in the face of denials of existence or exclusion. It is but assertive denial of the exclusion that is perpetuated by caste discriminatory prejudices and violations. Hence the question of rights for Dalit discourse is inclusive of the legal standard, but goes beyond it. Dalit human rights discourse has a wide range of conceptual bearings that need to be actualised by social actions depending upon specific contexts of social deprivations. A cursory directive of the concepts of Dalit rights with its divergent connotations would include: Right to be themselves first, (identity issue); Right to self assertion; Right to certain boundary or social space (the argument of Ambedkar to dual vote and separate electorate is an instance of this right); Right as markers of power; Right as political power by direct representations; Right as protection; Right as organisation of social space; Rights as access to (land and property); Right as claims; Right as defence against any incursion; Right as to cross and resist the social-custom boundaries;

14

SOCIAL ACTION VOL. 61 JANUARY MARCH 2011

Right as articulation; Right as dignified treatment in private and public spheres, Right to worship or restrain in common with other groups of the same religion. Right to have access to common burial/cremation ground as against the prevalence of separate burial ground is to be situated in the illegitimacy of all forms of caste violence individual, social, economic, political and state-sanctioned cruelty. Central to this discursivity is the construction of a politics of power for the people, namely the Dalits who have been historically treated as non-human-other. Alongside the legal battle for justice and rights, it ought to take stock of the dimensions of Dalit suffering seriously. It is to evolve a Dalit human rights-based approach in addressing the question of development as against mere welfare-based approaches.14 The question of Dalit human rights is not just a matter of addressing the atrocities, but at large it corroborates the affirmation of land rights of Dalits, resisting the forces of globalisation, communalism, casteism, patriarchy. 15 Dalit human rights discourse does have a prophetic rhetoric, namely the Affirmation of the Fragmented Universality for the Restoration of Lives and Dignity. Its discourse is not in favour of the moralization or naturalization or even universalization of human rights, rather it demands to unveil the illegitimacy of institutionalized caste-based human rights violations against them. It is a politics for/against/to power through empowerment. It arises from the social sensibility and responsiveness of the presentative face-of-the other16 of the tortured and tormented Dalits and not necessarily any representative voice for any such representations could often turn out to repressive of the death cries of the Dalits. Dalit human right discourse continues to demand institutional, State cultural, social accountability and action for conditions of injustice as to pave way for justice.
END NOTES 1. ACPI Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, Vol. 1. Human Rights Varghese Manimala, pp.633-634 2. John Locke (1632-1704) is known as the father of Liberalism, who influenced the most influential thinkers of Enlightenment thinkers and social contract theorists (Voltaire and Rousseau). His works are reflected in the American Declaration of Independence. 3. Refer, The English Bill of Rights (1689) for a detailed exposition of rights as natural and intrinsic.

PHILOSOPHY OF HUMAN RIGHTS: FOR OR AGAINST DALITS

15

4. Human Rights, New Catholic Encyclopedia, 7, (New York: McGrawHill, 1967)7:211 5. http://www.crystalinks.com/greekslavery.html 6. http://historylink102.com/Rome/roman-slaves.htm 7. http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/distance_arc/las_casas/Aristotle-slavery.html 8. http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/distance_arc/las_casas/Aristotle-slavery.html 9. trinity.duke.edu/globalstudies/wp.../reflections_broeck_abstract.doc 10. Christopher S. Nwodo, The Philosophical Basis of Human Rights Claims India Quarterly, 45/2-3 (April-Sept 1989), p.214. 11. Postmodern criticisms such as meta-narrative referred by Lyotard, Deconstruction by Derrida, the idea of the Other as determinant face of oneself elaborated by Levinas and others provide rich fertile conceptual grounds for a discourse on human rights from the perspective of the subjugated people. 12. Epistemological suspicion is the concept employed in Hermeneutics as to enable the interpreted to situate his her interpretation, rooted in a foreground, bracketing the dominant interpretations as to enable an ethically responsible interpretation possibilities. 13. Derrida on metaphysical presence conceives the idea that the European Self played a dominant role in executing ideological and practical domination of the rest of the cultures, and hence need to be exposed of its futility by a systemic mode of deconstruction. 14. In a recent speech at the release of the National Human Rights Commissions (NHRC) Report on Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes authored by K.B. Saxena, Justice A.S. Anand Chairperson of the NHRC, called upon the government to adopt a rights-based approach and not a welfare-based one in addressing the condition of the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes (Dalits) 15. Goldy M. George, The Question Of Dalit Human Rights in Counter Currents. 16. Please refer to Levinas writings for his convincing argument that the face of the other, namely the deprived social other as categorical necessity to affirm ones identity.