Human rights abuse is marked by use of force and implementation of draconian lawsA human rights professional needs to be equipped with a bouquet of skills, says Dr Kamlesh Kumar, Research Officer at Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). He suggests that a human rights professional has to be skilled in writing, management, communication, advocacy and legal skills, besides being good at research, documenting, fund-raising, conflict resolution and teamwork.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) defines Human Rights as rights inherent to all human beings, irrespective of nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status.
Life as a human rights activist is not easy. “Being a human rights activist, the life is challenging as it involves responsibility for others. The work is of a more of a field job rather than the paper-works on desks. The field job is intense and organizations in this domain use a variety of disciplines in their approach to social justice, juvenile justice, advocacy, policy development, documenting and research,” explains Dr Kumar.
Rising awareness on human rights
Awareness on Human Rights has increased significantly in India. In 15 years (from 1996 to 2011), the number of reported cases on violation of Human Rights increased almost tenfold from 11,427 cases in 1996 to 108,337 in 2014.
Thus, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has been consistently recording and reporting a number of issues concerning human rights including right to food, right to education, rights of women against violence and exploitation and rights of children against abuse and exploitation.
Many voluntary organizations and social activists have also been on the forefront of fighting Human Rights cases across the country. This has led to an increasing urge among the people to understand better the nitty-gritty of laws related to Human Rights, resulting in increased demand for professionals in this domain.
Human Rights education in India
Human rights education is offered at multiple levels in India, which includes Certificate, Diploma, UG and PG Programmes. The UGC encourages study of human rights as a specialized subject at PG level. There are a few universities, which also have centres exclusively for promoting human rights education.
Human rights courses are taught at length at UG and PG level, where eligibility is 10+2 and Bachelor Degree respectively. For short-term courses the eligibility is flexible.
What is being taught?
A postgraduate student will have to study topics like History of Human Rights and Its Evolution, NHRC and other Commissions, International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights in India, International Politics, Human Rights of Women, Human Rights of Children and Issues in Human Rights and Judicial Activism.
The course curriculum of human rights in Indian institutions comprise a series of international and national legal frameworks in the form of international declarations, regional international conventions, international instruments and national constitutions, legislations and so on. It also mandates the history and background of development of human rights alongside the influential and crucial role to be played by Judicial and Executive wings.
Essential elements of courses
According to the University Grants Commission, the course basically has four objectives:
Develop interaction between society and the educational institutions
Sensitize the citizens for the norms and values of human rights and duties
Encourage research activities related to human rights and
Encourage research studies concerning the relationship between human rights and duties and International Humanitarian law
Select colleges offering programmes in Human Rights and Law
Aligarh Muslim University
M.A. in Human Rights
Bachelor’s Degree in any discipline
Banaras Hindu University
LLM in Human Rights
LLB with minimum 50% marks
Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya
Postgraduate diploma in Human Rights
Graduate in any discipline
Indian Institute of Human Rights, New Delhi
Postgraduate programme in Human Rights (Correspondence/ Distance Learning)
Post Graduate Diploma in Human Rights
Dr Mukund Sarda,
Principal, New Law College, Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune
Q. How do you view human rights as an academic course?
A. The best way for enforcing human rights in any country is through education. India, being the largest democracy in the world and education being the main source of empowerment and means for dignity of a human being, a course on human rights certainly adds meaning to life. The human rights education domain has pierced every field of education with its multidisciplinary approach.
Q. What skills do one need?
A. The prime requirement to be a true human rights activist is to have love for humanity. He must be sensitive towards human rights issue and believe that this profession is less for self-promotion and more for societal development. Protection and promotion of human rights is primarily based on awareness of human rights. .
Q. What about the job prospects?
A. The jobs in this field have different roles and designations like: human rights activist, lawyer, academician, researcher, trainer, human rights manager, journalist, writer, judicial officer, coordinator etc. A lot of governmental organizations (at national and state level), NGOs, human rights agencies, social welfare departments absorb them. One can also get employed in international organizations and corporate houses.
Q. And the remuneration?
A. Those employed in international organizations/firms may draw greater remuneration, depending on the expertise and depth of knowledge In India, a candidate with adequate knowledge and expertise in the field of human rights may be entitled to a substantial income initially ranging from Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 150,000 that increases with experience.
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