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Democratic Rights

03 Democratic Rights

In a democratic country, rights are entitlements of a citizen that apply regardless of their caste, creed or any other social or religious division.

Life without Rights

Prison in Guantanamo Bay

  • The prisoners of Guantanamo Bay were secretly picked up without informing even the government of the country.
  • The American government accused the captives of being involved in the New York attack on 11 September 2001.
  • The UN conducted and independent inquiry and said that the prison should be shut down.
  • But the pleas were turned down by the US government.

Citizens’ Right in Saudi Arabia

  • The country is ruled by a hereditary king and citizens cannot elect or change the ruler.
  • The legislature and executive are selected by the king.

Ethnic massacre in Kosovo

  • The people in Kosovo were mainly ethnic Albanian but the majority in the country were Serbs
  • Miloselvic, a narrow minded Serb nationalist, won the election wanted the Serbs to dominate the country.

Rights in a democracy

What are rights?

  • Claims of a person over other fellow beings, society and government are called rights.

Why do we need rights in a democracy?

  • Rights are essential to sustain democracy and protect minorities from oppression.

Rights in the Indian Constitution

  • Fundamental rights are the basic rights of a citizen like equality, liberty and justice

Right to Equality

  • The government cannot deny any citizen equality or equal protection of laws.

Right to Freedom

  • Under the Indian Constitution all citizens are entitled to
    • Freedom of speech and expression
    • Assembly in a peaceful manner
    • Form associations and unions
    • Move freely throughout the country
    • Reside in any part of the country
    • Practice any profession or carry on any occupation, trade or business

Right against Exploitation

  • To prevent the exploitation of the weaker sections of the society, the Constitution laid down the right of Exploitation.

Right to freedom of religion

  • Every citizen has the right to profess, practice and propagate the religion that he or she believes in.

Cultural and Educational Rights

  • Any distinct language or culture followed by citizens can be conserved.
  • Everyone should be given equal opportunities for admission to any educational institution maintained or aided by government.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

This international covenant recognises many rights that are not directly a part of the Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution.

How can we secure these rights?

  • Fundamental rights cannot be violated by any government institution or any law or action.

Expanding scope of Rights

  • When new societies emerge or constitutions are formed, new rights develop.
  • The following new rights are guaranteed by the Constitution of South Africa.
    • Right to privacy: No person or home may be searched, cellphones should not be tapes and communications should not be accessed
    • Right to a clean, green and healthy environment
    • Right to have adequate housing
    • Right to access to health care and food and water
    • Right to get emergency medical treatment whenever required

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