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.

“The Calling of Global Responsibility: New Initiatives in Justice, Dialogues and Planetary Realizations” 27th July 2016, Bangalore

One day Dialogical Workshop ‘The Calling of Global Responsibility: New Initiatives in Justice, Dialogues and Planetary Realizations’ was held on Wednesday, 27th July 2016 at Indus Business Academy campus, Bangalore. This was a collaborative initiative of Indus Business Academy, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Vishwaneedam Center for Asian Blossoming and Eco Foundation for Sustainable Alternatives (EFSA), Bangalore.

About 25 eminent academicians from social sciences, Business schools deliberated on the subject and proposed a collective declaration and action oriented initiatives.In a collective voice the participants emphasized that Responsibility is an important challenge of our lives as it is a challenge of our times and our present day world cries out for new initiatives in justice, dialogues and creation of beauty as part of an integral movement of rethinking, reconstitution of self, economy, polity, culture and society. They explored these interconnected issues such as New horizons of self, social and spiritual responsibility; With and beyond corporate social responsibility: Corporate spiritual responsibility; Global Responsibility: With and beyond responsibility to protect and new paths of global governance, cosmopolitanism and international relations; Climate Change and Global Responsibility; Financial Crises and Global Responsibility; War, Terrorism and Global Responsibility and Refugees and Responsibility: The Calling of a New Dharma of Hospitality. The discussions also led to the sharing of our experience in promoting responsible and sustainable societies grounded in the principles of responsibility and interdependence for moving towards sustainable societies.

Consultation on Rights and Responsibilities of vulnerable groups -March 27 2016 Lucknow

A Consultation on Right and Responsibilities was organized at Hotel Babian Inn, Lucknow on 27th March, 2016 by FIAN Uttar Pradesh, EFSA and Aim. Mr. Vinod Kumar Singh, FIAN UP extended warm welcome to all participants and guest in the meeting. Later the participants introduced themselves and briefed about their work and organization.

The meeting started by a film screening “thunder storm” on the Food Security. After That Mr. Vinod Kumar Singh welcomed all the participants and started the introduction session. He briefing the aims of the consultation that we are working of the different rural and urban areas and facing many of problems during our work. The question is that what are the reasons behind the problem and what our responsibility as person/social activist??

After that Vinod Kumar Singh invited Ms. Sudha (EFSA, Bangalore), Ms. Neetu Sharma (National Law School, Bangalore) Dr. Anil Thakur (Delhi University) and Mr. Ramakant Rai (NCE) for chairing the program. Download PDF

Socio-legal framework on responsibility towards protection and promotion of rights of the vulnerable: 23rd January 2016, Bangalore

The above symposium held on 23rd January 2016 at KROSS Bangalore, jointly organized by AIM Lucknow and EFSA Bangalore, was attended by about 40 participants from socio professional background.

Serious and sensitive discussions then ensued amongst the participant s about the Vulnerable Groups and the Socio Economic Disparities imposed on them and in this context the injustice perpetuated on women (abuse, violence, HIV/AIDS) and children / youth (labour / education) were discussed at length for quite awhile; for it is primarily among the lower socio economic strata that the disparities are higher! Responsibility of Citizens and Voluntary Organizations in Nation Building, emerged as an important issue of discussion among the participants in being a small ( to start with) yet significant channel in ensuring the vulnerable groups had access to a rights based approach in the resolution of several of their problems. When it came to forming a Common Legal Framework to protect and promote rights there was a unanimous agreement that two significant impact indicators be chosen around the two key areas of vulnerable groups (labor and education among youth) and it was decided that all the participants would send in their inputs with regard to the same. This could then be collated and be part of the draft on final responsibility in protecting and promoting the rights of the vulnerable groups.

Responsibility towards our Common Home: 12th September 2015, Bangalore

One day interactive dialogue on ‘Responsibility towards Our Common Home’ in association with Eco Foundation For Sustainable Alternatives (EFSA) and the Centre for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) was held at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore on 12th September, 2015. This discussion was based on the recent Encyclical “Laudato Si” (Our Common Home) written by His Holiness Pope Francis.

The participants from multidisciplinary areas discussed on the climate change, ecological degradation, deforestation, inequity and other man made hazards strongly invoke us to discuss our responsibility towards our common home and the desirable initiatives we need to take in order to ensure human well-being for present and future generations and sustainable eco systems. They referred to Laudato Si” in which called for all concerned to understand the situation by analyzing the causes of these manmade threats and asks all of us collectively work together to transform the situation. The similar apprehension for sustainability of all beings has been expressed by several leaders of all faiths and religions. Therefore, the participants stressed that it was the need of the hour for all the concerned from all faiths and secular traditions to unite on the common platform in addressing this alarming problem we are all facing today.

Consultation on ‘State Responsibility and International Law’, during World Congress on International Law, 9-11 January 2015 New Delhi

World Congress on International Law, 9-11 January 2015, New Delhi

The International Conference on State Responsibility and International Law was organized as a parallel event during the World Congress on International Law in New Delhi.

The Conference was organized in collaboration with the Indian Society of International Law on January 10th 2015, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.Download PDF

Inter -Faith Dialogue on Human Rights and Human Responsibilities with focus on Justice and Peace 24th & 25th February 2014, Mangalore

Inter Faith Dialogue on Human Rights and Human Responsibilities with focus on Justice and Peace.

A Report The dialogue on the topic “Inter Faith Dialogue on Human Rights and Human Responsibilities with focus on Justice and Peace” was initiated by Eco Foundation for Sustainable Alternatives (EFSA) and jointly organized by Christian Education Society (KACES), Mangalore Diocesan Ecumenical Commission; Chair in Christianity, Mangalore University, Mangalore Peace Education.

Forum, On the 24th and 25th of Feb, 2014 at SAHODAYA, Balmatta, Mangalore. Download PDF

Interactive Dialogue: Towards Evolving A Legal framework on Responsibilities: Mapping Responsibility Principles in SAARC Countries with reference to vulnerable groups; 25th May 2014 Bangalore

An Interactive Dialogue on Towards Evolving A Legal framework on Responsibilities: Mapping Responsibility Principles in SAARC Countries with reference to vulnerable groups was organized by EFSA, Rights & Responsibilities Collective and Forum of Ethics & Responsibilities at Executive Development Centre on 25th May 2014. About 20 eminent jurists, law/ academic experts, social development experts actively participated in the dialogue. Thoughtful and experiential inputs and valuable suggestions have enriched the discussion and encouraged to move forward in this process. The participants spontaneously volunteered to join in deepening and broadening the scope of the Study through ‘Study Circle’ to develop (an) international law/s on Responsibility.

Workshop ‘Towards Building Responsible Gender Sensitive Society and Gender Just Governance’ 2-4 October 2013, Vagamon, Kerala

Venue: Eco nest Ashasadan, Vagamon, Kerala Date: 29th September evening (Introduction) to 2nd October 2013 Background

Just as an exclusive focus on specific violation or incident undermines the ability of truth to contribute to a broader agenda of social justice, so with reparations does the linking of redress to a single incident similarly weaken the potential contribution to social justice. There is enormous potential to empower women, address social and economic inequality linked to gender and contribute to a broad social justice agenda. Practical actions and redressal policies as a proactive vehicle to put right past harms which are not limited to violation, but rather serve to redress an overall context of oppression and violations of basic rights and contribution towards furthering gender equality, empowerment and gender sensitive development.

Workshop on Co-responsibility: Interactive Dialogue on Ethics, Human Rights & Responsibilities for Just Society’ 8th October 2013, Bangalore

In collaboration with IBA Center for C School and Indus Business Academy (IBA), Bangalore EFSA organized a workshop on Co-responsibility: Interactive Dialogue on Ethics, Human Rights & Responsibilities for Just Society’ at Indus Business Academy (IBA), Bangalore. The objectives of the Interactive Workshop were to create and develop a culture of responsibility and co-responsibility in a world overwhelmed by unethical and irresponsible behavior and attitudes – irresponsibility within governments, business, education, media, arts, academia, and other sectors. Also to develop a strategy of intervention by educational institutions including business schools, academia, civil society organizations, human rights activists, and other professionals to combat the culture of rampant irresponsibility, responsibility as such has become almost a forgotten ethical value and moral virtue. 20 participants from different disciplines- academic, social and business sectors actively engaged in the deliberations and agreed to take the initiative forward in their respective areas.