Dialogues on Ethics, Rights and Responsibilities and Reflection on Action
Ethics and ethical behaviors have been the inherent component of human relationships and humanity from the time immemorial. Ethics coupled with the scrupulous sense of responsibilities have nurtured not only the human relationships but have also been the very basis of civilized society. It may not be an exaggeration if we say that the adherence or non-adherence to the responsibilities and ethics was the key determinant while defining the social contracts propounded by the theorists. Responsibility is also at the core of any social contract between a socio-professional group and the rest of the society, whether it is scientists, professionals, journalists, civil servants, educators, farmers and fishermen, servicemen, children, etc., mitigating corporatist or sectoral interests or loyalty to a limited community with the conscience of being part of a larger one. The very concept of co-responsibility reflects from the local to the global level idea of a social contract.
In consistent with our vision and objectives, EFSA has began the journey of building cultures of co responsibility and peace in the society through the dialogues with civil society, socio professional and academic communities, journalists, youth, women, bureaucrats, religious leaders, parliamentarians, opinion makers etc. Many concerned individuals, groups/ institutions joined the hands of EFSA in the process.
To consolidate experiences gained through various dialogues and secondly to expand into new areas, a Reflection on Action (ROA) document was developed by the EFSA Collective. Reflection on Action Document is the summary of engagement of Human Rights defenders and professional and social groups on Ethics, Rights and Responsibilities through the dialogues and workshops, and an analysis of the findings of a questionnaire that was distributed to human rights groups and others throughout the country. This booklet sets out the activities, strategies and recommendations as one model of how those larger goals have been pursued and the lessons learnt from that particular set of experiences, some of which are specific to India or other South Asian societies, but others of which are hopefully of more general application. EFSA Collective was able to learn important lessons and grappled with critical questions that we encountered during the deliberations. Some of the questions raised were quite relevant and these need to be reflected deeply to build universal consensus.
Some of the critical questions that were raised are the following:
- How to define responsibility principles under divergent socio political and ecological context especially in a pluralistic society with divergent faiths, religious practices, ethical norms and moral principles and to arrive at point of convergence?
- What is the distinction between Responsibility principle and Duty? In Indian and South Asian context principle of Duty over laps with the Responsibility though they are not identical. Responsibility is more of an individual choice and on the other hand duty is a community/ cultural obligation or state imposed, which is integral to the social –ethical- moral codes prevailing in the communities.
- Responsibility principle is more context related; whether it could be theoretically constructed as a universal principle with a common definition?
- How do we define the inter relationship between rights and responsibilities? The question was raised in the context of the human right activism of today which works independently of human responsibility principle.
Reflection on Action Document
Mapping Responsibility Principles in SAARC countries with Reference to Vulnerable Groups
The interactions with the legal experts and human rights defenders pointed towards the need to impart legal impetus to the notion of responsibilities in various countries. The facts that the duties and responsibilities have not been articulated well in the legal frameworks as well as the reluctance of people working with the rights based approach to accept ‘responsibilities approach’ as complementary to the ‘rights based approach.’ Hence growing concern over making responsibilities legally binding and enforceable and the need to establishing the link between Rights and Responsibilities as complementary to each other was the prime mover for initiating this study.
Against this backdrop an initiative to examine the Constitution of India was taken up and various components of the constitution including the fundamental duties were looked at. It was realized that in addition to the fundamental duties, there are several other components of the constitution such as the Preamble, citizenship, fundamental rights (reasonable restrictions on the same), as well as the centre state relations have got the traces and effect of the notions of ethics and responsibilities.
Motivated with the outcome of this exploratory study and the need to establish the responsibilities approach as complementary to the rights approach, an attempt has been made to trace the component of ‘responsibility’ in the various jurisdictions. To start with, especially considering that the study is being coordinated at present from India, it was decided to focus primarily on the South Asian situation.
Summary Report: Mapping Responsibility Principles in SAARC countries with Reference to Vulnerable Groups
Principles based on Responsibility: “Using Responsibility to Strengthen Legal Framework to Protect Vulnerable Groups-A Proposal for Discussion”
The Rights of a man states that “"Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another, and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess." Rights always go with responsibilities (although not duties). Responsible and duty conscious individual reflects conscious organic growth of society.
Although there have been legal provisions made with an objective of ensuring well-being of vulnerable groups, there has not been any significant improvement in the status of vulnerabilities of these groups. On the contrary, the sources of violation of their rights and their vulnerabilities have seen multifold increase in recent times. The rights based approach that has found operationalization in the form of sporadic entitlements, needs to be complemented with corresponding and complementary framework of responsibility. Such comprehensive framework can potentially render vigor and sustainability to the interventions made towards protecting the rights and promoting social justice and human welfare.
The principles proposed hereinafter aim to lend impetus to the responsibility quotient within the legal framework pertaining to the protection and well being of vulnerable groups. The need to make the legal framework meant for the protection and promotion of the rights of vulnerable groups much more effective is unquestionable. Existence of a range of such instruments has guaranteed certain basic human rights that also got translated into statutory rights. However the fact that equilibrium comes from shared, collective and individual responsibilities, has never been recognized in the legal framework.
In this background after a series of consultations with the support of some eminent jurists, social scientists and concerned experts EFSA team has developed a proposal based on Responsibility principles Using Responsibility to Strengthen Legal Framework to Protect Vulnerable Groups for further deliberations.
Using Responsibility to Strengthen Legal Framework to Protect Vulnerable Groups-A Proposal for Discussion
A framework Law for Enforcing of Responsibilities with Special reference to vulnerable groups
As an outcome of series of consultations with eminent jurists and law experts A framework Law for Enforcing of Responsibilities with Special reference to vulnerable groups has been emerged for further discussion.
Objects of the Act
- - To fix the responsibilities at the level of individuals, institutional and government’s level towards protecting the human rights of vulnerable groups
- - To ensure that the various Acts, welfare schemes, Regulations etc. are compatible with the human rights and strengthen the human rights. Meanwhile, these legislative instruments are also enhancing the realization of the existing human rights especially the vulnerable sections.
- - To impose obligations on the public authorities to realize that their power to act is subject to the protection of human rights.
- - To concur jurisdiction directly to the Constitutional courts in case of any act by either by government or public authority in derogation of rights and privileges granted under this Act.
A framework Law for Enforcing of Responsibilities with Special reference to vulnerable groups
Responsible citizenship Education in the educational Institutions: Responsibility Framework and its applications
The ecological crisis, increasing poverty, hunger, illiteracy, injustice and violence are forcing us to face the harsh realities of the human condition. At a time like this, we need to address not only the structure of education but also the nature and quality of human mind and life; thus calling for a transformative new approach that breaks through the frontiers of particular cultures. The new approach establishes an entirely new set of universal values, which in turn can create a compassionate civilization- ‘global humane beings’, who with increased critical awareness and committed action transform the lives of others, especially of the deprived sections of the society at the local, national, and international levels. It is in this context that this educational paradigm is of critical to reaffirm eternal values of eco systems, in the future generations, who evolve into global humane beings and shoulder ethical responsibility that paves path to prevent a upheaval of violence, corruption and greed facing the world today and future.
A six months certificate course on ‘Responsibility and Citizenship’ for the Undergraduate students
In this context, as an innovative educational initiative, a teaching module on Responsibility and Citizenship was developed and being offered to the undergraduate students in Dr. Sri Jachani Degree & Pre University College, Chikkaballapur, Karnataka; committed to the value based education to the youth from rural background.
The course was inaugurated by the principals of the Degree and Pre University Colleges and 15 students have enrolled into the course. The classes have been commenced with an introduction by the eminent scholars like Dr. Rayappa Kasi, philosopher and environmentalist from Tamil Nadu and Dr. John Clammer, renowned sociologist from Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana.
South India TECH CAMP on Countering Online Radicalization in the Digital Age: May 6 & 7, 2017, Bangalore
A two -day ‘South India TECH CAMP on Countering Online Radicalization in the Digital Age’ was jointly organized in Bangalore on 6 & 7th May 2017 by COFI Networks, COVA, (Confederation of Voluntary Associations), Hyderabad, Eco Foundation for Sustainable Alternatives (EFSA), Bangalore, Avani, Bangalore, Sheriff Foundation, Bangalore, Talent Promotion Trust, Bangalore and U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad. 35 participants from six states viz- Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry were oriented by expert trainers from Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru in gaining expertise in using social media to counter hate campaigns that are dominating the internet and to secure cyberspace for promoting understanding and peace. All the Trainers of this Program provided pro-bono services
Beyond Thresholds of Conflict: International Film Festival of Peace, 11-12 February 2017
‘Beyond Thresholds of Conflict’: An International Film Festival of Peace was held on 11th & 12th February 2017 at Gandhi Bhavan, Bangalore. It was jointly organized by Karnataka Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi, Bangalore Film Society, CIEDS Collective, Eco Foundation for Sustainable Alternatives (EFSA), Ekta Foundation Trust, Enable India Foundation, International Gandhian Institute for Nonviolence and Peace (IGINP), Radio Active CR 90.4, Infinite Souls Farm and Artists Retreat.
The film festival was inaugurated by Dr. Ho. Srinivasaiah, the president of Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi, Shri Tushar Gandhi, Dr. Jill Carr Harris, Shilok Mukkati, poet & youth leader and the children from different social backgrounds.
In a world increasingly beset with conflicts and the use of violence as the means to resolve these conflicts, Gandhian nonviolence continues to renew and offer relevant and sustainable alternatives. “Beyond Threshold of Conflict”, an International Film Festival on Peace, brought together path breaking films from around the world that celebrate women’s immensely significant role in nonviolent conflict resolution in their own diverse, and often complicated contexts within their families, communities and countries. This two-day film festival was the travelling edition of the Peace Builders International Film Festival held in New Delhi in Oct’16. The festival showcased documentaries, animation and fiction films that shed light on women as builders and keepers of peace from countries across the world – Sri Lanka, Tibet, India, Iran, India, Paraguay, Denmark, Pakistan, USA, Indonesia and the Middle East. An insightful conversation, ‘Speaking Peace in Times of War’ was held with eminent women writers during the film festival.