Indian Economy and Social Issues for NABARD Officers Exam 2017

Dear Readers,

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Economic and Social Issues is a subject which is becoming very important nowadays as many Banking exams are having a section from this particular subject. Like in NABARD Grade-A and Grade-B Prelims. There will be a section for this subject so it becomes important to have knowledge of this to score good and for that today we are providing you with the notes on same. 

Introduction of  Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

In the past 15 years interest in promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights has grown. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), academia, Governments and the judiciary are paying increasing attention to the protection of these rights in their programmes, policies and case law, and highlighting the need to respect them as a key to ensuring the greater overall enjoyment of human rights. The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights raises the hope of a renaissance for the protection of these rights, both nationally and internationally. This is timely, particularly given that the denial of economic, social and cultural rights continues and is even intensifying, in wealthy and poor countries alike.

What are economic, social and cultural rights?

Economic, social and cultural rights are those human rights relating to the workplace, social security, family life, participation in cultural life, and access to housing, food, water, health care and education. Although economic, social and cultural rights may be expressed differently from country to country or from one instrument to another. Here is a basic list-

1. Workers’ rights
2. The right to social security and social protection
3. Protection of and assistance to the family
4. The right to an adequate standard of living
5. The right to health
6. The right to education
7. Cultural rights

These rights are human rights. Like other human rights, they contain dual freedoms: freedom from the State and freedom through the State. For example, the right to adequate housing covers a right to be free from forced evictions carried out by State agents (freedom from the State) as well as a right to receive assistance to access adequate housing in certain situations (freedom through the State).

They have become increasingly well defined in national, regional and global legal systems, in laws and regulations, in national constitutions, and in international treaties. Accepting them as human rights creates legal obligations on States to ensure everyone in the country can enjoy these rights and to provide remedies if they are violated. As with other human rights, recognising economic, social and cultural rights together with the principle of non-discrimination puts the focus on the most excluded, discriminated and marginalised groups in society. 

Why is protecting economic, social and cultural rights important?

Failing to protect economic, social and cultural rights can have very serious consequences. For instance:
The denial of economic, social and cultural rights can have devastating effects. Forced displacement or eviction can result in homelessness, the loss of livelihood and the destruction of social networks, and have devastating psychological effects. Malnutrition has a clear health impact, particularly on children under 5; it affects all their organs for life, including their developing brain, liver and heart, as well as their immune system.

Denying economic, social and cultural rights can affect large numbers of people. For example, diarrhoeal dehydration caused by a lack of safe drinking water claims the lives of nearly 2 million children every year and has killed more children in the past 10 years than all the people lost to armed conflict since the Second World War.

• Gross violations of economic, social and cultural rights have been among the root causes of conflicts, and failure to address systematic discrimination and inequities in the enjoyment of these rights can undermine the recovery from conflict. For example, discriminating in access to employment, using education as a tool for propaganda, forcibly evicting communities from their homes, withholding food aid from political opponents and poisoning water sources are all abuses of economic, social and cultural rights that have fled conflict in the past.

• The denial of economic, social and cultural rights can lead to violations of other human rights. For example, it is often harder for individuals who cannot read and write to find work, to take part in political activity or to exercise their freedom of expression. Failing to protect a woman’s right to adequate housing (such as lack of secure tenure) can make her more vulnerable to domestic violence, as she might have to choose between remaining in an abusive relationship or becoming homeless.

The importance of economic, social and cultural rights cannot be overstated. Poverty and exclusion lie behind many of the security threats that we continue to face both within and across borders and can thus place at risk the promotion and protection of all human rights. Even in the most prosperous economies, poverty and gross inequalities persist and many individuals and groups live under conditions that amount to a denial of economic, social, civil, political and cultural human rights. Social and economic inequalities affect access to public life and to justice. Globalisation has generated higher rates of economic growth, but too many of its benefits have been enjoyed unequally, within and across different societies. Such fundamental challenges to human security require action at home as well as international cooperation.

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