You might have learnt about the slave trade from your history lessons. There was a time when colonial powers from Europe kidnapped African people from their homelands and carried them away on ships to different parts of the world where they were used as cheap labour. Slaves worked hard for little to no pay. They were considered property and not people for their ‘owners’ were allowed to sell them just like they sold sheep or cows.
Fortunately, slavery was abolished and all governments in the world now agree that nobody’s life should be bought or sold. Life is precious and therefore must be protected and given the opportunity to bloom. That is why people are said to have certain basic rights. Like the right not to be bought or sold as slaves, to be treated equally, or to speak their mind without fear of being jailed. If citizens do not have these basic or fundamental rights, then they may as well be slaves.
What are Fundamental Rights?
After independence India laid down some fundamental rights that every citizen of India is guaranteed by the law. It is important to know what they are so that no one can deprive you of them.
6 Fundamental Rights of India
- Right to equality
- Right to freedom
- Right against exploitation
- Right to freedom of religion
- Right to cultural expression and education
- Right to constitutional remedies
1. Right to Equality
Every citizen is the same under the law. This means that men and women are equal no matter what religion or caste they belong to. The law will treat a brahmin woman the same way that it would treat a Christian man if they were to break the law.
2. Right to Freedom
The law allows the citizens of India to criticize the government and its policies. They can organise themselves however they choose and carry out their daily lives in any way they seem fit (within limits of course). In short, people are able to exist without fear of a higher force such as the government.
3. Right against Exploitation
To be exploited is to be misused. Children and poor people are especially vulnerable to being exploited. This fundamental right ensures things like education for children and equal pay for equal work.
4. Right to Freedom of Religion
Every citizen can practice their religion of choice. Everyone is free to do whatever their religion tells them to do. So Muslims fast during Ramzan, Christians during Lent and Hindus during Navaratri. However, in following our religion we should not forget that other people are free to follow theirs and that this is no reason to fight.
5. Cultural and Educational Rights
These rights are especially laid down to protect minorities. These are groups of people who are less in number or live in remote areas or have been downtrodden by the traditional society. This includes certain castes and tribes who live in forests, away from developed big cities. Even the Dalits or the small religious groups like the Parsis are minorities. They have a fundamental right to enjoy all the benefits that the majority of citizens enjoy.
6. Right to Constitutional Remedies
Every citizen has equal right to appeal to the court of law for justice if there is a threat to his life or property or to join the government in order to affect this change.
Interview different members of your family and ask them about what the right to free speech means to them. Try and get answers from people of different ages. Follow up with the question of how this right has changed over their lifetime.
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