Friday, 14 February 2014

Democratic Rights


Violation of Citizens’ rights by the USA

1.      About 600 people were secretly picked up by the US forces from all over the world and put in a prison in Guantanamo Bay, an area near Cuba controlled by America’s Navy.
2.      The American government said that they were enemies of the US and linked to the attack on New York on 11 September 2001.
3.      Families of prisoners, media or even UN representatives were not allowed to meet them. The US army arrested them, interrogated them and decided to keep them there. There was no trial before any magistrate in the US
4.      Amnesty International, an international human rights organisation, collected information on the condition of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and reported that the prisoners were being tortured in ways that violated the US laws.
5.      Prisoners were not released even after they were officially declared not guilty. An independent inquiry by the UN supported these findings. The UN Secretary General said the prison in Guantanamo Bay should be closed down. The US government refused to accept these pleas.

Violation of Citizens’ Rights in Saudi Arabia

1.      The country is ruled by a hereditary king and the people have no role in electing or changing their rulers.
2.      The king selects the legislature as well as the executive. He appoints the judges and can change any of their decisions.
3.      Citizens cannot form political parties or any political organisations. Media cannot report anything that the monarch does not like.
4.      There is no freedom of religion. Every citizen is required to be Muslim. Non-Muslim residents can follow their religion in private, but not in public.
5.      Women are subjected to many public restrictions. The testimony of one man is considered equal to that of two women.

Violation of Citizens’ Rights in Yugoslavia (Kosovo)

1.      Kosovo was a province of Yugoslavia before its split. In this province the population was overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian muslims. But in the entire country, Serbs(Christians) were in majority.
2.      A narrow minded Serb nationalist Milosevic had won the election. His government was very hostile to the Kosovo Albanians. He wanted the Serbs to dominate the country. Many Serb leaders thought that Ethnic minorities like Albanians should either leave the country or accept the dominance of the Serbs.
3.      74-year-old Batisha Hoxha was sitting in her kitchen with her 77- year–old husband Izet, staying warm by the stove. She knew, five or six soldiers had burst through the front door and were demanding her children.
4.      They shot Izet three times in the chest. When her husband dying, the soldiers pulled the wedding ring off and even before she comes out of the house they burnt her house.
5.      This was typical of what happened to thousands of Albanians in that period. This was one of the worst instances of killings based on ethnic prejudices in recent times. Finally Milosevic lost power and was tried by an International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity.

What are rights?

 Rights are reasonable claims of persons recognised by society and sanctioned by law.

Why do we need rights in a democracy? (OR) Rights are necessary for the very sustenance of a democracy.

1.      In a democracy every citizen has to have the right to vote and the right to be elected to government.
2.      For democratic elections to take place it is necessary that citizens should have the right to express their opinion, form political parties and take part in political activities.
3.      Rights protect minorities from the oppression of majority. They ensure that the majority cannot do whatever it likes. Rights are guarantees which can be used when things go wrong.
4.      The government should protect the citizens’ rights. But sometimes elected governments may not protect or may even attack the rights of their own citizens.
5.      That is why some rights need to be placed higher than the government, so that the government cannot violate these. In most democracies the basic rights of the citizen are written down in the constitution.

What is Right to Equality? How does it apply in providing equality, liberty and justice to Indians?

1.       Right to equality means that the laws apply in the same manner to all, regardless of a person’s status. This is called the rule of law. Rule of law is the foundation of any democracy.
2.      It means that no person is above the law. There cannot be any distinction between a political leader, government official and an ordinary citizen.
3.      The government shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, caste, ethnicity, sex or place of birth.
4.      Every citizen shall have access to public places like shops, restaurants, hotels, and cinema halls. Similarly, there shall be no restriction with regard to the use of wells, tanks, bathing Ghats, roads, playgrounds and places of public resorts maintained by government or dedicated to the use of general public.
5.      The same principle applies to public jobs. All citizens have equality of opportunity in matters relating to employment or appointment to any position in the government. No citizen shall be discriminated against or made ineligible for employment on the grounds mentioned above.
6.      The Constitution mentions one extreme form of social discrimination, the practice of untouchability, and clearly directs the government to put an end to it. The practice of untouchability has been forbidden in any form.

What is Right to Freedom? What are the kinds of freedom given to the Indians?

Right to Freedom means absence of interference in our affairs by others – be it other individuals
or the government.
1.      Indian Constitution gives the right to Freedom of speech and expression
2.      Right to Freedom to assemble in a peaceful manner
3.      Right to Freedom to form associations and unions
4.      Right to Freedom to move freely throughout the country
5.      Right to Freedom to reside in any part of the country
6.      Right to Freedom to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
7.      Citizens have the freedom to hold meetings, processions, rallies and demonstrations on any issue.
8.      Your freedoms should not cause public nuisance or disorder. You are free to do everything which injures no one else

Rules to be followed by the government or police officer when arrest or detain any citizen

1.      A person who is arrested and detained in custody will have to be informed of the reasons for such arrest and detention.
2.      A person who is arrested and detained shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of 24 hours of arrest.
3.      Such a person has the right to consult a lawyer or engage a lawyer for his defense.
4.      Such a person not be tortured or beaten.
5.      Such a person to be allowed to meet his family members and relatives.

Right against Exploitation (What are three specific evils which are declared illegal in the constitution?)

1.       Constitution makers thought it was necessary to write down certain clear provisions to prevent exploitation of the weaker sections of the society. The Constitution mentions three specific evils and declares these illegal.
2.      First, the Constitution prohibits ‘traffic in human beings’. Traffic here means selling and buying of human beings, usually women, for immoral purposes.
3.      Second, our Constitution also prohibits forced labour or begar in any form. ‘Begar’ is a practice where the worker is forced to render service to the ‘master’ free of charge or at a nominal remuneration.
4.      Constitution also prohibits child labour. No one can employ a child below the age of fourteen to work in any factory or mine or in any other hazardous work, such as railways and ports.
5.      Using this as a basis many laws have been made to prohibit children from working in industries such as beedi making, firecrackers and matches, printing and dyeing.

How is Right to Freedom of Religion practiced in India?

1.      Secularism is based on the idea that the state is concerned only with the relation between human beings and God. A secular state is one that does not establish any one religion as official religion.
2.      Every person has a right to profess, practice and propagate the religion he or she believes in. Every religious group or sect is free to manage its religious affairs. A right to propagate one’s religion, however, does not mean that a person has right to compel another person to convert into his religion by means of force, fraud, inducement or allurement.
3.      Freedom to practice religion does not mean that a person can do whatever he wants in the name of religion. For example, one cannot sacrifice animals or human beings as offerings to supernatural forces or gods. Religious practices which treat women as inferior are not allowed.
4.      Discrimination against people on the basis of religion is not allowed. Thus the government cannot compel any person to pay any taxes for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious institution.
5.      There shall be no religious instruction in the government educational institutions. In educational institutions managed by private bodies no person shall be compelled to take part in any religious instruction or to attend any religious worship.

What are the guarantees given under the Cultural and Educational Rights?

1.      The language, culture and religion of minorities that needs special protection. Otherwise, they may get neglected or undermined by the majority. That is why the Constitution specifies the cultural and educational rights of the minorities.
2.      Any section of citizens with a distinct language or culture has a right to conserve it.
3.      Admission to any educational institution maintained by government or receiving government aid cannot be denied to any citizen on the ground of religion or language.
4.      All minorities have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
5.      Here minority does not mean only religious minority at the national level. In some places people speaking a particular language are in majority; people speaking a different language are in a minority.

 How can we secure the fundamental rights? (Right to Constitutional Remedies)

1.       The fundamental rights in the Constitution are important because they are enforceable. We have a right to seek the enforcement of the above mentioned rights. This is called the Right to Constitutional Remedies.
2.      This is a Fundamental Right. This right makes other rights effective. It is possible that sometimes our rights may be violated by fellow citizens, private bodies or by the government. When any of our rights are violated we can seek remedy through courts.
3.       If it is a Fundamental Right we can directly approach the Supreme Court or the High Court of a state. That is why Dr. Ambedkar called the Right to Constitutional Remedies, ‘the heart and soul’ of our Constitution.
4.      Courts also enforce the Fundamental Rights against private individuals and bodies. The Supreme Court and High Courts have the power to issue directions, orders or writs for the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights.
5.      Fundamental Right, if it is of social or public interest. It is called Public Interest Litigation (PIL). Under the PIL any citizen or group of citizens can approach the Supreme Court or a High Court for the protection of public interest against a particular law or action of the government.

EXPANDING SCOPE OF RIGHTS (Constitutional Rights)

1.       While Fundamental Rights are the source of all rights, our Constitution and law offers a wider range of rights. Over the years the scope of rights has expanded. From time to time, the courts gave judgments to expand the scope of rights.
2.      Now school education has become a right for Indian citizens. The governments are responsible for providing free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14 years.
3.       Parliament has enacted a law giving the right to information to the citizens. We have a right to seek information from government offices.
4.       Recently the Supreme Court has expanded the meaning of the right to life to include the right to food.
5.      The right to property and right to vote in elections are important constitutional rights.

Constitution of South Africa guarantees its citizens several kinds of new rights:

1.      Right to privacy, so that citizens or their home cannot be searched, their phones cannot be tapped, their communication cannot be opened.
2.      Right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or wellbeing.
3.      Right to have access to adequate housing.
4.      Right to have access to health care services, sufficient food and water; no one may be refused emergency medical treatment.

Human right activists all over the world seek a set of rights as a standard of human rights. These include:

1.      Right to work: opportunity to everyone to earn livelihood by working.
2.      Right to safe and healthy working conditions, fair wages that can provide decent standard of living for the workers and their families
3.      Right to adequate standard of living including adequate food, clothing and housing.
4.      Right to social security and insurance.
5.      Right to health: medical care during illness, special care for women during childbirth and prevention of epidemics
6.      Right to education: free and compulsory primary education, equal access to higher education.

Nomadic Empires


Sources to understand Mongol  history

1.      The steppe dwellers themselves usually produced noliterature, so our knowledge of nomadic societies comesmainly from chronicles, travelogues and documents producedby city-based litterateurs.
2.      These authors often producedextremely ignorant and biased reports of nomadic life. Theimperial success of the Mongols attracted many travelers. Theseindividuals came from a variety of backgrounds – Buddhist,Confucian, Christian, Turkish and Muslim. Many of them produced sympathetic accounts and others hostile.

Social and Political Background of Mongols

1.      The Mongols were a diverse body of tribal people, spoke similarlanguages.
2.      Some of the Mongols were pastoralists while others were huntergatherers.The pastoralists tended horses, sheep andcattle, goats and camels.
3.      They lived nomadic life in the steppes of Central Asiain a tract of land in the area of the modern state of Mongolia. This wasa majestic landscape with wide horizons, rolling plains, ringedby the snow-capped mountains, Gobi desert and drained by rivers and springs.
4.      They were a humbler body of peoplethan the pastoralists, making a living from trade in furs of animals trappedin the summer months. There were extremes of temperature in the entireregion: harsh, long winters followed by brief, dry summers.
5.      Agriculturewas possible in the pastoral regions but theMongols did not take to agriculture. The Mongols lived in tentsand travelled with their herdsfrom their winter to summer pasture lands.
6.      Mongols had scarceresources. The richer families were larger, possessed more animals and pasturelands.
7.      Periodic natural calamities – either unusually harsh, coldwinters when game and stored provisions ran out ,they conflicted over pasture lands and predatory raids in search oflivestock.
8.      The scant resources of the steppe landsdrove Mongols and other Central Asian nomads to trade and barterwith their sedentary neighbours in China. This was mutually beneficialto both parties: agricultural produce and iron utensils from Chinawere exchanged for horses, furs and game trapped in the steppe.

The life and Career of Genghis Khan

1.      Genghis Khan was born in1162 near the Onon Riverin the north of present-day Mongolia.
2.      His original name wasTemujin, he was the sonof Yesugei, the chieftain of the Kiyatclan.
3.      His father was murdered at an early age and his mother,Oelun-eke, raised Temujin, his brothers and step-brothers in greathardship.
4.      Temujin wascaptured and enslavedfor many years.
5.      Soon after his marriage, his wife, Borte,was kidnapped, and he had to fight to recover her.
6.      During these yearsof hardship he also managed to make important friends. The youngBoghurchu was his first ally and remained a trusted friend; Jamuqa,his blood-brother was another.
7.      Temujinbecame the dominant personality in the politicsof the steppe lands, a position that was recognisedat an assembly ofMongol chieftains, where he was proclaimed the ‘Great Khanof the Mongols’ with the title Genghis Khan, the ‘Oceanic Khan’or ‘Universal Ruler’.

Wars and Expansion of Mongols underGenghiz Khan

1.      The first ofhis concerns was to conquer China, divided at this time into three realms:the Hsi Hsia dynasty in the north-western provinces,Chin dynasty ruled north China and the Sungdynasty in south China.
2.      By 1209, the Hsi Hsia were defeated,the ‘Great Wall of China’ was breached in 1213 and long drawn-out battles against the Chin continued until 1234 butGenghis Khan was satisfied enough with the progress of his campaigns toreturn to his Mongolia
3.      SultanMuhammad, the ruler of Khwarazm, executed Mongol envoys worried of Mongol invasion. In the campaigns between1219 and 1221 the great cities – Otrar, Bukhara, Samarqand, Balkh,Gurganj, Merv, Nishapur and Herat – surrendered to the Mongol forces.
4.      Towns that resisted were devastated by Mongols. At Nishapur, where a Mongolprince was killed during the siege operation, Genghis Khan commandedthat the ‘town should be laid waste in such a manner that the sitecould be ploughed upon and not even cats and dogs should be left alive’.
5.      Mongol forces in pursuit of Sultan Muhammad pushed intoAzerbaijan and defeated Russian forces. Another wing followed the Sultan’s son, Jalaluddin, intoAfghanistan and the Sindh province.
At the banks of the Indus, Genghis Khan considered returning to Mongolia through North India andAssam, but the heat, the natural habitat and the ill portents reportedby his Shaman soothsayer made him change his mind and he returned to Mongolia without touching India.

Causes for the success of Genghis Khan

1.       His military achievements were astounding and they werelargely a result of his ability to innovate and transform differentaspects of steppe combat into extremely effective military strategies.
2.      The horse-riding skills of the Mongols and the Turks provided speed and mobility to the army.
3.      Their abilities as rapid-shooting archersfrom horseback were further perfected during regular huntingexpeditions which doubled chance of victory over the enemies.
4.       The steppe cavalryhad always travelled light and moved quickly, but now it brought allits knowledge of the terrain.
5.      They carried out campaigns in the depths of winter, treating frozenrivers as highways to enemy cities and camps.
6.      GenghisKhan learnt the importance of siege. His engineers prepared lightportableequipment, which was used against opponents withdevastating effect.

The Mongols after Genghis Khan

1.      We can divide Mongol expansion after Genghis Khan’s death into twodistinct phases: the first which spanned the years 1236-42 when themajor gains were in the Russian steppes, Bulgaria, Poland andHungary.
2.       The second phase including the years 1255-1300 led to theconquest of all of China, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
3.      The Mongol military forces met with few reversals in the decadesafter the 1260s the original impetus ofcampaigns could not be sustained in the West.
4.      There were two facets to this: the first was a consequence of theinternal politics of succession within the Mongol family where thedescendants of Jochi and Ogodei allied to control the office of the greatKhan in the first two generations.
5.      The second compulsionoccurred as the Jochi and Ogodei lineages were marginalised by theToluy’s lineage. With the accession ofMongke, a descendant of Toluy, militarycampaigns were pursued energetically in Iran but asToluyid interests in the conquest of China.

Military Organisation under Mongols

1.      Among the Mongolsall theable-bodied, adult males of the tribe bore arms: they constituted thearmed forces when the occasion demanded.
2.      The unification of thedifferent Mongol tribes and subsequent campaigns against diversepeople introduced new members into Genghis Khan’s army. It included groups like theTurks,Chinese and Arabs who had accepted his authority willingly.
3.      Genghis Khan worked to systematically erase the old tribal identitiesof the different groups who joined his confederacy. His army wasorganised according to the old steppe system of decimal units: in divisionsof 10s, 100s, 1,000s and 10,000 soldiers. He divided the old tribal groupingsand distributed their members into new military units. Any individualwho tried to move from his allotted group without permission receivedharsh punishment.
4.      He divided the army into four units and they were required to serve under his foursons and specially chosen captains of his army units called noyan.
5.      Thesoldiers who hadserved Genghis Khan loyally through grave adversity for many years were publicly honoured some of these individuals as his ‘bloodbrothers’ and  others were givenspecial ranking as his bondsmen , a title that marked theirclose relationship with their master.

Political Organisation under Genghiz Khan

1.       Genghis Khan assigned the responsibility ofgoverning the newly-conquered people to his four sons. These comprisedthe four ulus.
2.      The eldest son,Jochi, received the Russian steppesand it extended as far west as his horses could roam.
3.      The second son, Chaghatai, was given the Transoxanian steppe and landsnorth of the Pamir Mountain adjacent to those of his brother.
4.      Genghis Khan hadindicated that his third son, Ogodei, would succeed him as the GreatKhan and on accession the Prince established his capital at Karakorum.
5.      The youngest son, Toluy, received the ancestral lands of Mongolia. GenghisKhan envisaged that his sons would rule the empire collectively, and tounderline this point, military contingents of the individual princeswere placed in each ulus.
6.      The sense of a dominion shared by the membersof the family was underlined at the assembly of chieftains, quriltais, whereall decisions relating to the family or the state for the forthcoming season campaigns, distribution of plunder, pasture lands and successionwere collectively taken.

Development in Trade and communication in Mongolia

1.      Genghis Khan had alreadyfashioned a rapid courier system(yam) that connected the distant areasof his regime. Fresh mounts anddespatch riders were placed inoutposts at regularly spaceddistances.
2.      For the maintenanceof this communication systemthe Mongol nomads contributeda tenth of their herd – eitherhorses or livestock – asprovisions. This was called thequbcurtax, a levy that thenomads paid willingly for themultiple benefits that it brought.
3.      Once the campaigns had settled, Europe and Chinawere territorially linked with Mongolia. Commerce and travel alongthe Silk Route reached its peak under the Mongols but, the trade routeextended up to Mongolia.
4.      Communication and ease of travel was vital toretain the coherence of the Mongol regime and travellers were given apass for safe conduct. Traderspaid the bajtax for the same purpose, all acknowledging thereby theauthority of the Mongol Khan.
5.      Mongols waged their successful wars against China, Persia, Russia etc there was a strong pressuregroup within the Mongol leadership that advocated the massacre of allpeasantry and the conversion of their fields into pasture lands. But bythe 1270s, Genghis Khan’s grandson, QubilaiKhan appeared as the protector of the peasants and thecities.

Yasa(legal code of Genghis Khan)

1.      yasa,the code of law that Genghis Khan was supposed to have promulgatedat the Assembly of Mongol Chieftains (quriltai)of 1206, has elaborated on the complex ways in whichthe memory of the Great Khan was fashioned by his successors.
2.      In itsearliest formulation the term was written as yasawhich meant ‘law’,‘decree’ or ‘order’. Yasaconcern administrative regulations: the organisation of the hunt,the army and the postal system.

Situating Genghis Khan and theMongols in World History

1.      For the Mongols, GenghisKhan was the greatest leader of all time: he united the Mongol people.
2.      GenghisKhan freed them from interminable tribal wars and Chinese exploitation.
3.      GenghisKhanbrought them prosperity, fashioned a grandtranscontinental empire and restored trade routes and markets thatattracted distant travelers and traders.
4.      GenghisKhan ruled the diverse body of people and faiths.  Although the Mongol Khans themselves belonged to a variety ofdifferent faiths – Shaman, Buddhist, Christian and eventually Islam they never let their personal beliefs dictate public policy.
5.      The Mongolrulers recruited administrators and armed contingents from peopleof all ethnic groups and religions. Theirs was a multi-ethnic,multilingual, multi-religious regime that did not feel threatened byits pluralistic constitution.
6.      Today, after decades ofSoviet control, the country ofMongolia is recreating its identity as an independent nation. It hasseized upon Genghis Khan as a great national hero who is publiclyvenerated and whose achievements are recounted with pride.