IT is observed world-wide on December 10 owing its origin to the UN Declaration on Human Rights in 1948. Since then civil and human rights groups have been observing the Day throughout the world to champion the cause of civil society. The issue however, has taken on a new dimension in recent years and has become a part of the post-cold war politics. Whether the third world countries deserve to get financial aid depends on the care they take of human rights. That is what the First World tells them. While the US has emerged as the ‘crusader’ of the human rights (HR) issue, governments in some countries including India have assumed the mantle of the HR leader. The result is that the issue, appropriated by the State, has now become a fashionable catchword of dominant discourse.

The changed scenario, however, is not without a silver lining. Whatever be the hidden agenda of the State, the National Human Rights Commission in India has proved bold enough on several occasions and taken the Govt to task in no uncertain terms. Its caounterpart in West Bengal has also played an important role in exposing the excesses of the custodians of law and order. It is therefore no wonder that the present Chairman of the West Bengal H R Commission has earned the ire of the police. The West Bengal police have even gone to the extent of demanding his removal. All this indicates a new kind of political formation. While people have lost all faith in the administration, an independent vigilant body set up by the State itself is espousing their cause and putting the administration in the dock. The reaction of the WB police shows that the official machinery is finding it intolerable. Meanwhile people have no respite from police harassment and excesses. Instead of criticising the H R Commision, why don’t the police mend their ways?