Do we get to exercise our Fundamental Rights in the true sense? On Republic Day today, industry stalwarts speak their mind
Right To Equality
It’s no secret that the fairer sex in India is mostly treated like second-grade citizens with discrimination starting from the mother’s womb. Ace actress Kangana Ranaut says equality with men is a far fetched dream. “In this country, the number of women who get equal rights is embarrassingly small. Although I now belong to a world which seems privileged, I come from a background where women cannot even expect to be treated equally. This is a country where female foeticide is alarmingly high and violence by men is accepted. Even in the place where I work, I am expected to be in Barbie doll mode; anything beyond that is not acceptable. Women who speak their mind are not encouraged. Forget freedom of equality, no freedom of any sort is given to women. The attitude in this industry is so feudal and regressive that it is unbelievable. Women are hardly thought of as thinking beings, and very few seek their opinion. Women are put in four basic groups — cute women, bold women, wild women and women who can be exploited,” she says.
Cultural and Educational Rights
While the country is making advancements in various fields, many children are denied education. Blaming it on poverty, filmmaker Nila Madhab Panda, whose award-winning film I Am Kalam was based on former President late APJ Abdul Kalam and aimed at inspiring the poor to educate their children, says, “First of all, we should stop blaming the government for not being able to provide education to each and every child. Instead, we, who are able to help, should help the government in facilitating their education, which is a stepping stone to empowerment. In my hometown, Bhubaneswar, there is an institute called Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences which functions with funds raised by people. They provide schooling and fulfil basic needs of thousands of less privileged children. India will grow only if its kids are educated.”
Right To Freedom of Speech and Expression
Last November, superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan were heckled on social media for their statements on intolerance in India and their comments were perceived by many to be anti-national. If they were right or wrong is debatable, but the fact that they were criticised for expressing their opinion put a big question mark on the fundamental right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. “I don’t think I have an opinion on it because even if you have an opinion on it people might pick you up for it. It’s a pretty cool state. Uma Bharti has said Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and randomly Saif Ali Khan for no reason should watch before making comments on intolerance and if they do then they should wait for the repercussions. So it’s a slightly scary phase to be in. Also, I don’t think it’s a government specific thing, but everyone is against anyone saying anything," says Sorabh Pant.
Right Against Exploitation
Exploitation is a sad reality of the glamour world and Sudhir Mishra, who has made films like Chameli and Inkaar, minces no words when he says, “Many writers in the Hindi filmdom take exploitation for granted. But they should fight back and exercise their Right Against Exploitation. That’s the first step to become a democracy. We can’t be a democracy if we stop exercising or respecting our Fundamental Rights. Also, there should be bodies that can help people fight for their rights. For example, there is a writer’s association which protects their rights. But still people will have to complain if they get exploited," says Sudhir Mishra.
Right to Constitutional Remedies
The increasing backlog of cases is a blot on Indian judiciary. Talking about the Right to Constitutional Remedies Rajkumar Gupta, director of No One Killed Jessica (2011), says ensuring timely justice is a challenge for a populous country like ours. “Many cases are pending in court at various stages, but justice has to be delivered timely and that’s a big challenge. The judicial system should seriously look into it. There have to be solutions to this.”