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Interview with advocate and human rights activist Asim Sarode
Advocate Asim Sarode, human rights activist and a freelance journlaist talks about role of media advocacy in human rights intervention.
 
ADVOCATE ASIM Sarode is a rising voice for the poor, a noted lawyer and a human rights activist. He is also founder of the Sahyog Trust in Pune and has written 'kautumbik Hinsachar aani Kayada', a book in Marathi on domestic violence. He is also a member of the National Aids Research Institute, Pune. Apart from all of the above he is a freelance journalist and has got published many write-ups with a socio-legal angle. Following is a candid discussion with him on 'Role of Media Advocacy in Human Rights intervention'.
 
Netya: How would you define human right at this time?
 
Asim: According to me, it is a widespread but wrong belief that only government is responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights. In reality, human rights is the responsibility on all of us, without any exception. All of us living and working in the country have to ask ourselves what this responsibility means for me and my surroundings.
 
What is the role of the business community, political parties, NGOs, diplomats, teachers, the community, traditional leaders, professional associations, the media, the civil service, the development agencies, and the international community? Human rights are not only rights but also duties. But another aspect of this is generally people are not aware of their rights and because of this they also lag in their duties.
 
 
Netya: Do you believe that it is possible for everyone to enjoy the same basic rights?


 
Asim: Of course to an extent it is possible. If we see on the surface every human has the right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life; these are primarily food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and finally the necessary social services, these are the basic rights that everyone can and must have. .
But, at the same time the difference in the economic standard is giving way to a discriminative society and thus violating the rights.

Netya: From your perspective, what are the ways to engage media towards the human right violations?

Asim: As of now we are thinking on the ways to engage-an important word to remember- media. We'll be exploring many ways to engage the media.

The media, at least in our highly 'communicative' society, is one of the pillars of power. That's why we need to become skilled at engaging journalists and news editors in giant media houses, and alternative media or vernacular media alike. We need to be interested in engaging the media as not just another constituency with some influence, but because it is one of the essential levers of power and can be very effective if it wants to. The media is integral to civil society. It can make or break regimes. It can foster or undo a culture of respect for human rights.

 
 
Netya: In the context of media intervention in human rights violation what reforms do you think are required by the system? And to what extent it is important, the outreach of media to the common people in spreading awareness about human rights?
 

Asim: Oh, it has plenty to do. To change a mindset or system is not a one-day game. It is a gradual and steady process. Inclusion of human rights education in media should be there and people should be a part of it because mass media is a communicator of the public and reaches far. Finally, it should be possible for all the citizens to share as much as they can.

 
Netya: Words you would like to quote for those students who are looking at their future perspectives in media and want to fight against human rights violation and join the activism by studying a combination of either law or social work with journalism?

Asim: Social work is based on the ground realities. Social workers are the community workers as well as basic informers; they stick with the scientific assessment at grassroot level.
One needs to work at the realistic level with the eyes wide-open and with an attitude of looking at things optimistically. This is a field where your common sense must always be alive to let your argument come in the light.

Netya: You have been doing a lot of work in what would you think that at what scale it will make a difference in society?
 
 
Asim: I have made several suggestions already about the duties of citizens, particularly in relation to human rights. In closing, however, I would like to add some comments about civil society. We need to look at human rights as a value and not merely as a subject to study or an issue to understand. We have to understand, accept and imbibe it in us just as we follow our religions. In today’s world Humanity must be our religion.

 
“We need to look at human rights as a value and not merely as a subject to study or issue to understand. We have to understand, accept and imbibe in us as we follow our religions. In today’s world our religion must be Humanity.”
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Netya Sharma
Nice to read your viewpoints and enlightenment towards the rights of the common man and I appreciate your inquisitiveness towards the particular statement but Miss Syed .I humbly implores to again take a glance of Advocate Sarode statement that “it is a widespread but wrong belief that only government is responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights.” But in reality human rights is the responsibility on all of us. It is the point of consideration which may be sound sore to hear but it’s the reality that why we consider the word “whose responsibility” to be make aware to us about the rights. Don’t you think so that it gives an only “parasitical approach” to depend on the others for our rights. Which actually need self- pedagogy? Your second inquisitiveness is about the invidividual’s own capacity of interpreting the things. On this I say, Mam you already yourself –answered this question. I said this because; Do you think that only government or any specialist in the field has such capacity to comprehend the each and every individual’s peculiar aspects towards the right. No, not at all if we consider or imagine this, we only can say it a “utopian statement”. Then again it is only us who can understand our own need and our own demands to survive in the society with our natural rights with better understanding of ourselves. I appreciate your criteria and feeling that rights are somewhere related with law. But to aware with our rights means at least to acquainted with our basic rights of surviving in the society for e.g right to life, human being has a right to respect for his person, to his good reputation, freedom in searching of truth and in expressing and communicating his opinions. It doesn’t mean to hold our rights we have to cram a article with its section of that particular right, than only we are able to stand for our right and yes beyond this all, All are equal before the law and of course proper awareness with apt interpretation is also important but with our equal participation and own initiatives to stand for the rights. I hope I answered your inquisitiveness within a specific avenue. Grateful to have such comment from a enlighten person like you. Thank you.
Netya Sharma
Nice to read your viewpoints and enlightenment towards the rights of the common man and I appreciate your inquisitiveness towards the particular statement but Miss Syed .I humbly implores to again take a glance of Advocate Sarode statement that “it is a widespread but wrong belief that only government is responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights.” But in reality human rights is the responsibility on all of us. It is the point of consideration which may be sound sore to hear but it’s the reality that why we consider the word “whose responsibility” to be make aware to us about the rights. Don’t you think so that it gives an only “parasitical approach” to depend on the others for our rights. Which actually need self- pedagogy? Your second inquisitiveness is about the invidividual’s own capacity of interpreting the things. On this I say, Mam you already yourself –answered this question. I said this because; Do you think that only government or any specialist in the field has such capacity to comprehend the each and every individual’s peculiar aspects towards the right. No, not at all if we consider or imagine this, we only can say it a “utopian statement”. Then again it is only us who can understand our own need and our own demands to survive in the society with our natural rights with better understanding of ourselves. I appreciate your criteria and feeling that rights are somewhere related with law. But to aware with our rights means at least to acquainted with our basic rights of surviving in the society for e.g right to life, human being has a right to respect for his person, to his good reputation, freedom in searching of truth and in expressing and communicating his opinions. It doesn’t mean to hold our rights we have to cram a article with its section of that particular right, than only we are able to stand for our right and yes beyond this all, All are equal before the law and of course proper awareness with apt interpretation is also important but with our equal participation and own initiatives to stand for the rights. I hope I answered your inquisitiveness within a specific avenue. Grateful to have such comment from a enlighten person like you. Thank you.
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