Monday, September 12, 2016

American Declaration vs French Declaration vs US Bill of Rights

American Declaration of Independence - The American Declaration of Independence is the founding document of the American political tradition. It articulates the fundamental ideas that form the American nation which is that All men are created free and equal and possess the same inherent, natural rights. Legitimate governments must therefore be based on the consent of the governed and must exist to secure these rights. The other ideas espoused in the document were the grievances that the American colonists had against the British and declared the 13 colonies on the East Coast of America as independent on 14th July, 1776.

The significance of the document is huge 

1) It established the fundamental equality of all mankind and advocated the concept of Human Rights based on natural rights tradition. Article 1 of UDHR reads very similar to the aforementioned document as it says that “all men are born free and equal in rights and in dignity”

2) It establishes the concept of Limited Government as the right to life, liberty and property could not be taken away even by the state. The tradition of written constitution which provide for the Doctrine of limited government has since been adopted by many countries including India

3) It encapsulated the idea that the government derives its authority from the people. Democracy since then has been one of the cardinal principles of American political thought and America places a lot of importance on the idea of democratization, a principle which governs its world view even now

4) It provided a legitimate basis of revolution for the people when the government fails in its duties to the citizens

The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen– 

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789 brought together two streams of thought: one springing from the Anglo American tradition of legal and constitutional guarantees of individual liberties, the other from the Enlightenment’s belief that reason should guide all human actions. It contained the principles that inspired the French Revolution. The basic principle of the Declaration was :

#All “men are born and remain free and equal in rights” which were specified as the rights of liberty, private property, the inviolability of the person, and resistance to oppression · All citizens were equal before the law and were to have the right to participate in legislation directly or indirectly · No one was to be arrested without a judicial order

#Freedom of religion · Freedom of speech which was safeguarded within the bounds of public “order” and “law.”

#The document reflected the interests of the elites who wrote it: property was given the status of an inviolable right, which could be taken by the state only if an indemnity were given

#Offices and position were opened to all citizens The significance of the document is huge

#Established the tradition of equality before law and Rule of law, basic structure of Indian Constitution as well

#The document also with Declaration Of Independence was a harbinger of the idea of human rights · It led to the mainstreaming of the idea of a secular state

#Liberty, Equality and Fraternity – three keywords which inspired many anti colonial struggle including the struggle for Indian Independence. Our Preamble also mentions the ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity to be achieved

#Freedom of speech and expression including freedom of press was given considerable importance in the document

#The document talked about equitable distribution of wealth and taxes guided by the idea that wealth should not remain concentrated

#The declaration also sparked the first explicit feminist movement in History led by Simone De Beauvoir

US Bill of Rights – 

The document lists the basic rights enjoyed by the American citizen and places limit on the Federal government . The rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights are · Guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press · Guaranteed due process of law, including protection from unfair imprisonment · Guaranteed trial by jury; protected people from “cruel and unusual punishment” Since then a lot of written constitutions including Indian Constitution provides for an explicit set of rights guaranteed to the citizens and places limit on the actions of the government. These rights are considered to be necessary to enables realize their potential.

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