Human Rights Day
Pheroza Godrej converses with B.L. Mungekar, Vice
Chancellor, University of Mumbai, at a celebration of Human Rights Day on 10
Rights Day was celebrated the world over on 10 December, 2003. The Maharashtra United Nations Association (MUNA), under the Presidentship of
Pheroza J. Godrej, organised a function to celebrate the occasion.
Pheroza Godrej, in her welcome speech, said:
“The entire scenario has changed, turbulence is the order of the day
worldwide and it would help to have our ‘rights?work like clockwork.
Unfortunately, this remains and remained an unrealised dream even for
generations gone by. People have always had to fight for their rights, the
evidence of which is all around us ?whether it be the rights of children,
women, the aged, the disabled, the press, religion and so on. We have with
us today a distinguished array of personalities: upholders of justice,
educationists, members of the international community and so on. We are at a
time when we are deeply shaken by what is happening globally and more so
locally, wherein we have lost trust and are disillusioned with the very
authority empowered to enforce the law of the land.?/font>
B.L. Mungekar, Vice Chancellor, University of
Mumbai, focused on the social aspect of human rights in India and the
discrimination between castes and different religions in practising and
respecting human rights, though they are uniform.
Mihir Desai, Advocate, Executive Chairperson ?
India Centre for Human Rights and Law, traced the history of the human
rights movement and its evolution since the Magna Carta was signed between
England and France.
The Chief Guest, the Hon’ble Justice S.S.
Parkar of the High Court at Mumbai, pointed out that human rights begin at
birth. He outlined the role of social human rights and constitutional human
rights and distinguished between fundamental rights and human rights. He
added that as an advocate and judge of the High Court, he always championed
Secretary General, MUNA
Blisters of Love
"Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my
brothers, you did it to me".
- Holy Bible,
have always been told that we cannot really celebrate or enjoy Christmas
if someone on that day remained hungry. This year I thought of sharing
my Christmas meal with someone who was poor and in no position to
celebrate Chirstmas. After the morning church services, I offered a lift
to some people and, in the process, had to divert from my daily route.
After reaching them to
their destinations, I noticed a lady with two children sitting by the
roadside, waiting for people to drop coins. I stopped my car and called
the lady. She came with one of her children, hands extended, expecting
some coins. I asked her if she would like to come home to spend
Christmas. She gratefully accepted my invitation, quickly gathered all
she had in a bundle and entered the car with her children.
She gave her name as
Mary Wanjiru and her age, 26. Her son David was three years old and her
daughter Rose, a year old. The two men responsible for the birth of
David and Rose had deserted her when she got pregnant.
On reaching my home,
they didn't know what to do. I removed the children's clothes and put
them for a wash. Then, I prepared a hot bath for them. Initially they
were reluctant, but, later, they didn't want to come out of the bathtub!
Mary had a bath, too, and wore a nightgown I gave her. After cutting her
children's nails, she helped me with cooking, while David and Rose
enjoyed watching cartoon shows on television. We then said a short
prayer and sat down for lunch. The children relished the meal. After
lunch, the three of them relaxed on the cot. David and Rose fell asleep
I then started washing
their clothes, which were absolutely filthy. Even after the fifth wash,
most of the dirt remained and my hands started developing blisters! I
somehow managed to get the desired level of cleanliness and dried those
The children wanted to
stay on in the evening. However, after some coaxing, they agreed to go
for a drive. I took them to the nearest Matatu (a transport means) stop
and gave them some money for their transport and, also, some pocket
money. As they got out of my car, Mary thanked me. There were tears of
gratitude in her eyes.
For me those tears
conveyed everything that Christmas stands for. The blisters on my
fingers are fading away, but the memory of those tears will remain with
me for many years to come. Indeed it was one of my best Christmases
Fredrick Correa, Godrej, Kenya.