C. Raj Kumar on Human Rights in China
Professor C. Raj Kumar is spearheading the initiative to establish India’s first global law school known as the Jindal Global Law School as a part of the proposed O.P. Jindal Global University to be located outside New Delhi (Sonipat, Haryana) and less than an hour from the Supreme Court of India in the heart of New Delhi. He was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, UK, where he obtained his Bachelor of Civil Law degree; a Landon Gammon Fellow at the Harvard Law School, where he obtained his Master of Laws degree, and a James Souverine Gallo Memorial Scholar at the Harvard University. He also obtained a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Delhi, India; and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Loyola College of the University of Madras, India. Professor Kumar has held consultancy assignments in the field of human rights and governance. He is Consultant to the National Human Rights Commission in India. He has been a Consultant to the United Nations University, Tokyo; United Nations Development Programme; and the International Council for Human Rights Policy, Geneva. He has advised the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption in Sri Lanka and the National Human Rights Commission in India on issues relating to corruption and good governance.Professor Kumar’s areas of specialization, include, human rights and development, corruption and governance, law and disaster management, comparative constitutional law and legal education. He has more than hundred publications to his credit and has published widely in journals and law reviews in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan and the U.S. His three co-edited books are Human Rights and Development: Law, Policy and Governance, Tsunami and Disaster Management: Law and Governance, and Human Rights, Justice and Constitutional Empowerment.
Kumar: As I told you, I’ve been living in Hong Kong for the last, almost 6 years, and I’ve been teaching Human Rights Law and Law and Development in Hong Kong, and, of course, having very close ties with a number of Chinese in Hong Kong, or from mainland China, and also a number of Chinese institutions in mainland China, visited and even spent some time there. And, in fact, last year I got an opportunity to teach at the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai for almost a month, and I was teaching a course on human rights to some 60 Chinese students, mainland Chinese students, in Shanghai. Now, obviously, there are huge challenges relating to human rights protection in China, and its implementation and its enforcement continues to be a huge challenge. Now, there are a number of things here it is useful to mention, one is that the Chinese commitment to international law is also very interesting because when it comes to issues like international trade law, WTO law, even issues relating to intellectual property rights, increasingly, and the larger area of say, international commercial law, there is absolutely no second thoughts on, as far its commitment to these areas of law and its effort to enforce it is also increasingly seen. I mean, they might be ineffective at times, for example, IP violations and things like that, but that is not, that doesn’t mean the government is not committed to it, since the violations are so much, in the large scale, it becomes sometimes difficult to enforce it. So we have to understand, one, is the commitment of the government to that body of law and, second, its enforcements problems and that we have seen in other jurisdictions as well. When it comes to international human rights law, if you look at the statements that emerge out of China, the government’s official statements, it has profoundly committed to it. So it’s… And l is that China obviously does not want to, with its huge economic rise and its huge economic and political power, which it has attained in the last few decades, China does not want to be seen to be somebody in the global arena to be sort of a state which does not adhere to the principles of human rights or principles of international law. Where the problem comes is that when it comes to one actual enforcement of it, as understood by the international community, and, two, when it comes to redressal of human rights violations. Here, there are huge challenges. There are certain aspects of human rights violations which any government does, including China, ought to be seriously handled and should be absolutely exposed, and there should be mechanisms, and that’s where the rule of law development initiatives that take place in China and India become very critical because institutions have to be created to ensure that the rule of law is protected. Now, unfortunately, the kind of independence of judiciary that prevails in a number of countries, as it is understood in that manner, does not prevail in China, and one has to improve the independence of judiciary that is prevailing in China. But also, along with it, what is important is to recognize that there are other aspects of human rights which Chinese have taken great progress in, and it is universally acknowledged that the removal of poverty and a significant number of people being eliminated out of suffering of that kind over 3 to 4 billion people have been removed out of poverty in the last two decades in China, and this is, this is not a small achievement. And the reason I mentioned this is that anybody who is seriously committed to human rights should ensure that the human rights violations in a particular country or jurisdiction is highlighted with a certain degree of integrity so that the legitimacy and credibility of those individuals and institutions are at all times protected, because for a human rights advocate, it is important to protect that because that will be the basis for him or her to be taken seriously by the international community. Now, in the Chinese context, one thing which I have noticed is that while, for the international community to recognize that there are indeed human rights issues in China which needs to be addressed, I would like, in the same way, that the achievements in the progress of human rights within China should also be sufficiently highlighted, and that’s where the role of economic, social, and cultural rights, the role of development discourse comes into the center of human rights discourse. Now, of course, when it comes to issues relating to torture or freedom of speech and expression, or, for that matter, political rights, there is a lot of work to be done in China, and I’m also familiar with the kind of work which is happening within China, not at the government level but at the level of individuals and scholars who are doing, in some ways, a very gradual, institution-building, nation-building process that takes place in China. Now, in the field of, say, environmental protection, there is some amount of, you know, activism that is tolerated by the government. In the field of anti-corruption, also, the government is taking efforts to ensure that people who are exercising power do not abuse it. So there are areas that there is some room for development and change and improvement in China, but, at the same time, I think once the moral coherence of a human rights advocate is protected when it comes to exposing the human rights violations of a country, that will be the critical barometer to assess to what extent these NGOs or human rights advocates are effective or not. Now one of the biggest unfortunate things that have happened in the world today is that no longer any country in the world is having that sort of moral credibility to, in some ways, you know, engage with regard to human rights violations that take place in another country because all of them, in some ways, have been participants in, or have contributed to, human rights violations which they have themselves engaged in. It could be China, it could be the US, too. I mean, Abu Ghraib and the Guantanamo Bay are not obviously encouraging situations for the US to… it has undermined its credibility to expose or even talk about human rights violations that take place in other country.
According to C. Raj Kumar, it is important is to recognize that there are many aspects of human rights with which the Chinese have made great progress.
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"Nothing but naked people: fat ones, thin ones, old, young…"
"The Yellow Sands", 1888, John Reinhard Weguelin; source: Wikimedia Commons<h3>Naked revolution</h3><p>Yet long before anyone knew about beach fashion, naturism was trendy. Bathing naked in the sea was going on in England as early as 1840. However, during the reign of Queen Victoria, this pleasure was outlawed. But it popped up again among the conservative Germans. In 1898, the first Naturist Club was founded in Essen and in 1900 the Wandering Birds group (<em>Wandervögel</em>) was scouring the country for uninhabited places and naked sunbathing. In the same year, Heinrich Pudor wrote <em>The C</em><em>ult of </em><em>the </em><em>Nud</em><em>e</em>, winning the hearts of contemporary supporters of naturism.</p><p>In the 1920s, on the back of this, members of the Movement for Natural Healing (<em>Naturheilbewegung</em>) organized naked sunbathing for the improvement of health. Persuaded by Pudor's theory of the healing properties of the sun and wind, which could be absorbed through the skin, they launched the naked revolution.</p><p>Pudor's book became the naturists' manifesto and soon after, not far from Hamburg, the Free Body Culture (<em>Freikörperkultur</em>, or FKK) movement was founded. This spread through other German centres and brought together thousands of people. The FKK still operates under the same name today.</p><p>The cult of the naked body even wrote itself into the ideology of fascist Germany, which advocated a pure, Aryan race. But in 1933, Hermann Göring issued an order that defined nudity as "the greatest threat to the German soul" and, with that, criminalized naturist organizations. But this wasn't the end of the movement. The naturists went underground, continuing their activities under the guise of improving physical fitness.</p><p>In 1936, the idea was even floated of having a naturist display to open the Berlin Olympic Games. It was quickly dropped. Despite this, in 1939 the naturists managed to organize their own Games in the Swiss village of Thielle.</p>
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Crows have their own version of the human cerebral cortex.
Action-packed pallia<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ0NzkyMS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNzk1NzM1OH0.Tjb3zulFW2gwhteR124F9HGbmdnCqNqQFOBQouieTJ8/img.png?width=980" id="2bbc9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2907e4035e553565f4446e968ee73d92" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Fun with Ozzie and Glenn<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ0Njk2MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMzY4Njc2MX0.ZgpsPMCK6qOj2o0kErvVPjdua1EnMCIwCuHHGrb3LiY/img.jpg?width=980" id="acbeb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2e286fecbb228a5ca8aa26fcd19f95a2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="two crows in a tree" />
Ozzie and Glenn not pictured
Credit: narubono/Unsplash<p>The kind of higher intelligence crows exhibited in the new research is similar to the way we solve problems. We catalog relevant knowledge and then explore different combinations of what we know to arrive at an action or solution.</p><p>The researchers, led by neurobiologist <a href="https://homepages.uni-tuebingen.de/andreas.nieder/" target="_blank">Andreas Nieder</a> of the University of Tübingen in Germany, trained two carrion crows (<em>Corvus corone</em>), Ozzie and Glenn.</p><p>The crows were trained to watch for a flash — which didn't always appear — and then peck at a red or blue target to register whether or not a flash of light was seen. Ozzie and Glenn were also taught to understand a changing "rule key" that specified whether red or blue signified the presence of a flash with the other color signifying that no flash occurred.</p><p>In each round of a test, after a flash did or didn't appear, the crows were presented a rule key describing the current meaning of the red and blue targets, after which they pecked their response.</p><p>This sequence prevented the crows from simply rehearsing their response on auto-pilot, so to speak. In each test, they had to take the entire process from the top, seeing a flash or no flash, and then figuring out which target to peck.</p><p>As all this occurred, the researchers monitored their neuronal activity. When Ozzie or Glenn saw a flash, sensory neurons fired and then stopped as the bird worked out which target to peck. When there was no flash, no firing of the sensory neurons was observed before the crow paused to figure out the correct target.</p><p>Nieder's interpretation of this sequence is that Ozzie or Glenn had to see or not see a flash, deliberately note that there had or hadn't been a flash — exhibiting self-awareness of what had just been experienced — and then, in a few moments, connect that recollection to their knowledge of the current rule key before pecking the correct target.</p><p>During those few moments after the sensory neuron activity had died down, Nieder reported activity among a large population of neurons as the crows put the pieces together preparing to report what they'd seen. Among the busy areas in the crows' brains during this phase of the sequence was, not surprisingly, the pallium.</p><p>Overall, the study may eliminate the layered cerebral cortex as a requirement for higher intelligence. As we learn more about the intelligence of crows, we can at least say with some certainty that it would be wise to avoid <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/science/26crow.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">angering one</a>.</p>