Human Rights Defenders Programme at CHS : class 2

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We picked up from where we finished in the last class, so that was with discussing the line from Jerry Pinto- ‘The fading is much much faster for the lesser being’.

ccccThe students had some confusion regarding what fading could imply, given the context of Pinto’s article. So, we began with exploring what it would possibly mean in light of that sentence in particular, and the larger background of his article and our discussion, and locating that in our conversation on human rights. An interesting point emerged from there with students describing their understanding of the term ‘lesser being’ with diverse explanations around that.

ccccWhile some suggested that it referred to those belonging to marginalized religions, some spoke about oppressed castes, gender. With regards to gender, another discussion emerged, where some students suggested that gender cannot make one feel lesser, there were others who suggested that gender becomes a defining factor in people being made to feel lesser or oppressed.

ccccI then brought the example of women’s vote and their role in official politics, thus briefly stopping to bring in the context of the fight to get the right to vote among other continuing struggles. This then led to them thinking about the harsher struggles faced by women even in accessing the everyday rights which are understood as a given for men otherwise.

ccccA student then brought up the question on what are we doing to ensure that people are not forced to feel lesser or oppressed. This became a suitable point to launch into a discussion on the role of international human rights organisations and the Constitution of the country to familiarize the students with the functions of these larger guiding forces in any conversation on human rights. I left them the work of doing some reading around the ideas enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution that could potentially link up with our discussion around human rights in different contexts as we go along the course, in the hope that it would then make the entire exchange more relevant for them. That led us back into reading and discussing from the Anne Frank diary, particularly focusing on the idea of social exclusion based on race and how that translated in the Anne Frank experience.

ccccFrom there we moved into discussing the historical trajectory and the evolution of the laws around human rights from the 539 BCE Cyrus Cylinder up to the 1628 Petition of Right. We concluded with a brief discussion on the meaning of holocaust and what that entailed, and then studied the Anne Frank story in that context.