The “One Day Basic Training Programme on Human Rights” with financial assistance from National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi was organized by Department of Political Science, Salesian College, Siliguri, West Bengal on 23rd of July 2018. The objective was to spread human rights literacy and make the participants belonging to different sections of the society aware about their basic human rights. It was an attempt to connect the existing international and national legal provisions and guidelines relating to human rights to lived experiences and empirical realities.
Keeping in mind the guidelines of the Training Division of the Commission main four sessions were conducted with a brief documentary screening on rights of disabled persons. Four invited speakers delivered the lectures on that day on different themes pertaining to human rights constituting hundred participants from various departments of the college in Siliguri and few of them participated from Salesian College, Sonada Campus. Representations from marginalized backgrounds were ensured for participation in the workshop. The fruitfulness of the deliberations were self-evident with the participants active involvement in all the sessions.
The resource persons who contributed to the day long programme were Dr. Ranjita Chakraborty, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, North Bengal University; Dr. Sebastian N., Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations, Sikkim Central University; Dr. Amit Kumar Gupta, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Sikkim Central University; and Mr. Ph. Newton Singh, Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations, Sikkim Central University.
Soon after the registrations the Rector of Salesian College, Siliguri, Fr.(Dr.) Mathew Pulingathil, welcomed the participants and the resource persons and underlined the various provisions of Universal Declarations of Human Rights, 1948 throughout the speech.
Dr. Ranjita Chakraborty before elaborating on various conventions and its protocols relating to questions of women and children raised the fundamental question of gender. Dr. Ranjita elaborated on the way gender is socially constructed and the way violence and subjugation is perpetuated in the society and gender hierarchies are enacted and maintained. Starting from this historiography of the category of gender she underlined the ways United Nations is striving to address these complex normative and empirical issues through various conventions and additional protocols.
Dr. Sebastian N. innovatively adopted a comparative method to analyze the Universal Declaration of Human rights and Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution of India. In juxtaposing various provisions of the said documents he simultaneously articulated the prominent features in each of the documents.
This session was followed by a special session on rights of persons with disability to spread awareness about disability and various prejudices faced by disabled people in the society. After a brief discussion on United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD), 2006 a documentary was screened on the life narratives of persons with disability from the popular television series Satyamev Jayate, episode 6 titled “Persons with Disability” (moderated by Bikash Sarma, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science).
After the lunch the session titled “Human Rights Institutions in India: Protection of Human Rights Act,1993; Composition and Functioning of NHRC/SHRCs” was lectured by Dr. Amit Kumar Gupta. Dr. Gupta started with an elaborate list of human rights violations in India and laid the background for understanding the role and functions of NHRC and various SHRCs in these plural contexts.
The last session lectured by Mr. Ph. Newton Singh initiated a crucial debate on the category of the ‘vulnerable’ with special reference to Forests Rights Act (2006) and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. By analyzing the certain provisions of the act Mr. Singh also tried to underline the prejudices of the society towards the vulnerable groups in question.
Finally the vice-principal of Salesian College, Siliguri Fr. (Dr) George Chempakathinal concluded the day long programme with his insights on human rights and also by reflecting broadly upon the theme of the training programme.