A study of human rights organizations and issues in India
The aim of this study is to examine the idea and practice of human rights in the particular context of India, with reference to a diverse set of organizations that emerged as a response to rights abuse, perpetrated both by state agencies and by dominant sections of the society. This work examines thirteen such organizations: ten of which are indigenous non-governmental organizations (NGOs), two are governmental organizations, and one is an intentional NGO, namely Amnesty International. The development of the idea of human rights in India is examined with reference to the major religious traditions, and the contributions of some national leaders (Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar). It is argued that the demand for civil and political rights, first raised by the Western educated elite, grew as a response to changes in the political system during the British rule, and was incorporated in the nationalist ideology, championed by the Congress party. The first human rights organization, established in 1936, became a model for various organizations that were formed in the post-independent period. Political developments towards the end of the 1960s and early 1970s gave rise to a set of organizations with limited agendas. After the period of national Emergency (June 1975-March 1977), as the organizations reconstituted themselves, they also diversified and expanded their agendas. The successful role of Amnesty International in highlighting rights abuse in India is described. This is contrasted with its Indian section, which has been beset by organizational problems. The circumstances in which the Indian organizations were formed, the way they have developed and how they function is examined.