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Developing sensitivity, sympathy key to promoting human rights: Murmu

If we can imagine ourselves in the place of those who are treated as less than human, it would open our eyes and compel us to do the needful, said the President.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

“Treat others as you would like them to treat you,” President Droupadi Murmu said on Saturday, summing up the human rights discourse.

Developing sensitivity and sympathy is the key to promoting human rights. “It is essentially an exercise of the faculty of imagination. If we can imagine ourselves in the place of those who are treated as less than human, it would open our eyes and compel us to do the needful,” she said, while addressing the Human Rights Day celebration, organised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The President said that India could take solace in the fact that the NHRC has been making the best possible efforts to spread awareness about human rights.

President Murmu noted that today is the beginning of the worldwide, year-long celebrations of the 75 years of the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights (HDHR). And the United Nations has chosen ‘Dignity, Freedom and Justice for All’ as the theme of the year 2022.

She said that over the past few years, the world has suffered from a high number of natural disasters caused by unusual weather patterns. Climate change was knocking on the doors. People in the poorer nations were going to pay a heavier price for the degradation of the environment. ”We must consider the environmental dimension of justice now,” she added.

She observed that the challenge of climate change was so enormous that it forced everyone to redefine ‘rights’. Five years ago, the High Court of Uttarakhand held that the Ganga and Yamuna rivers have the same legal rights as human beings.

”India is a land of sacred geography, with countless holy lakes, rivers and mountains. To these landscapes, the flora and fauna add rich biodiversity. In old times, our sages and seers saw them all as part of a universal whole, along with us. So, just as the concept of human rights exhorts us to consider every human being as no different from us, we should treat the whole living world and its habitat with respect,” she added.

The President shared that she wondered what the animals and trees would say if they could speak, what would the rivers say about human history and what would cattle say on the topic of human rights.

”We have trampled on their rights for a long time and now the results are before us. We must learn – rather re-learn – to treat nature with dignity. This is not only a moral duty; it is necessary for our own survival too,” she added.