Any expansion involves human rights violation: VP Dhankhar

New Delhi: Any expansion, particularly of geographical boundaries, involves violation of human rights, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar said on Wednesday, asserting that India as a nation never believed in such a policy.

In his address at the foundation day event of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) here, he said Indian ethos is such that the country’s concern is not limited to itself but cares for the world.

“We are yet to have another nation that can match our unrivalled record,” Dhankhar said.

“We never believed, as a nation, in expansion. Any expansion, particularly of geographical boundaries, involves violation of human rights, of an extreme degree. This nation (India) has never done so,” he said.

In his address, the vice president also stresses that human rights, as a concept, cannot be reckoned only in the “narrow sense” of preservation of personal liberties and dignity.

They have to be understood in a broader context, he added.

“When it comes to decimation of human rights, we can’t afford to be neutral, we have to take sides,” he said.

“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. As a matter of fact, a neutral man is hardly any different from the oppressor. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. In such scenarios, there is no option, but to be pro-active, and we must interfere,” Dhankhar said.

Human rights are quintessential for a flourishing democracy. Democratic values are of no significance in the absence of human rights. Nurturing of human rights is the “nectar of dignity and dignified human existence,” he added.

NHRC chairperson justice (retd) Arun Kumar Mishra, many judges of the Supreme Court, diplomats and representatives of UN agencies were present on the occasion.

Dhankhar, a former governor of West Bengal also made a reference to an observation made in January in a report by a panel of the NHRC on the post-poll violence in West Bengal that “law of ruler and not rule of law” prevails in the state.

This philosophy should not be limited to just one state, but applies to any part of the globe when there could be law of ruler and not rule of law, and it could be in a family, factory or any establishment, he said, and asserted that there has to be rule of law not law of ruler.

The vice president said impactful evolution of transparent and accountable mechanism, coupled with ease of governance has provided wholesome environment for flourishing of human rights, in recent times.

Dhankhar underlined that human rights “get compromised” in the face of corruption.

Poor and vulnerable are easy victims of this menace. Continual onslaughts on corruption is a bright sign in this direction and virtually there is a “war on corruption”, he added.

The corrupt can’t be protected on account of lineage, political affiliation, cast, creed or region, the VP said in his address.

He also spoke on the challenges to human rights, saying these emanate from several quarters, “state and non-state actors, natural disasters, pandemics, famine, poverty to name a few”.

Judicial steps and governmental initiatives have “considerably contained” these challenges to human rights, Dhankhar said.

COVID-19 pandemic was a grave challenge to human rights on the planet. Countries laying claim to robust health infrastructure collapsed. In our country with vision and strategy, this menace was “commendably contained,” he said.

The most apt way to define freedom is “supremacy of human rights everywhere,” Dhankhar said, adding “we can have a more just, safe, and peaceful world only with universal respect for human rights”.

The vice president asserted that inclusive growth by its nature is “antidotal to violation of human rights”.

“We must always be cognisant that violation of human rights and injustice anywhere is bound to diminish such rights in some measure,” he said.

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