In an exclusive interview with Newzfirst, Mrs. Edith Sizoo spoke about her experiences and her works on ‘Human Responsibility’ in many countries including India. Here is an excerpt of her conversation with our correspondent.

We are reposting here a newspaper article after the visit of Edith Sizoo to India participating in different workshops on the activities of the Forum Ethics and Responsibilities, in close collaboration with the Rights and Responsibilities Collective (India). (NG)

Originally published on the 10th October 2013 on Newzfirst : http://www.newzfirst.com/web/guest/...

By Shoaib Mohammed

Edith Sizoo, born in the Netherlands (1939), Masters degree from the Free University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, is a socio-linguist. She has worked within the framework of Development Cooperation, in Hong Kong and India and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. She has served as Director of the Netherlands federation of Non-Governmental Development Organisations. She has also been the International Coordinator of the Network Cultures and Development in Brussels, where she was responsible in particular for its programmes on “Language and intercultural communication” and “Female thinking and social transformation”.

Since 2003 she is coordinating an international process, initiated by the Foundation Charles Léopold Mayer, for the promotion of a Universal Charter of Human Responsibilities. At present she serves as International Coordinator of the Forum on Ethics & Responsibility.

In an exclusive interview with Newzfirst, Mrs. Edith Sizoo spoke about her experiences and her works on ‘Human Responsibility’ in many countries including India. Here is an excerpt of her conversation with our correspondent:

Mrs. Sizoo, you have experienced the impacts of the second World War in your early youth, can you tell us how were the conditions, especially which children faced during that time?

Well, it wasn’t a fairy tale for children but, a bad reality which everyone of us faced. It was a war situation in which I along with others grew up. In Netherlands, the place where I was born, people faced a lot if restrictions. There was no food, no clothes or facilities. We often heard that the Jews were displaced, tortured and troubled. You can yourself imagine how it feels when small kids hear about other kids being sent to gas rooms. It was a chaotic time.

What was the motivation behind your endeavor in the field of human responsibility?

Witnessing and experiencing the events of the war, I was driven by questions such as, what is racism and its causes? What makes people hate the other? What is the fear of the otherness of the other? This led me to go as deeply as possible into learning to understand what this otherness consists of so as to diminish the fear and to discover the richness of human and cultural diversity.

You are at present working on the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibility, with so many cultural, lingual, habitual and other differences in the world, how practical is it to implement a standard set of rules for everyone to abide?

We are at present facing new challenges. The present financial, economic and social crisis as well as the climate changes that are taking place are worldwide and showing that the globalization process has caused ever increasing interdependence internationally. For example, let us look at the current economic crisis which has surrounded the whole world. It is well known that this crisis has been caused mainly due the functioning of the banks. But who is there to take the blame for it? Has any bank director been held responsible for it? So my question is that is all this right? If we take the case of environment, there is so much damage being done for nature. We need to think of what kind of a world will we be leaving for the future. We have to ensure that the future should be safe and secure. For this there must a regulatory body on a global level to control everything.

There is already what we know as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Don’t you think that the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibility will be the same as that?

Mere Human Rights does not serve the question of Responsibility. There is no respect for Human Rights if people are not responsible. Current reactions to this situation are to restrain responsibility not only at the personal level, but also in terms of co-responsibility at the international level.

What is the road map being taken for the promotion of the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibility?

Basically, the work is to be carried out at two levels, firstly we have to create awareness among the public about the responsibilities they hold as citizens and as human beings in general. Secondly, work has to be done to take the issue of Human Responsibilities at the political level both nationally and internationally. We need to include the state as well as the corporate sector into this work.

You have studied and worked in India and China for a long time. What is your understanding about India and Indian society?

To speak about India, let me say that it is a land of contradictions. There is a lot of injustice which people face here, especially the women. Discrimination on grounds of religion and race is clearly evident towards the Dalits, tribals and the minorities. Apart from this, gender discrimination also is a very serious issue in India. 42 percent children of this country do not go to school, which is very alarming. The state has failed to protect its women and children. Although, the country’s middle class is getting modern day by day, but at the same time poverty is also rising and the gap between the rich and the poor is still very large. Today, when I travel around Bangalore city, I wonder why a city which was known as the Garden City has now turned into Garbage City.

India is a country of youth. Do you have any message which you would like to convey to the future generations of this country?

The humble message which I would like to convey, not only to the Indian youth, but to the whole world is that let each and everyone of us become responsible human beings. Let us open our eyes and look at the problems being faced by the society. Let us be good to the society, make our city clean and green, whenever there is any injustice happening let us all join hands and form a force against it. These efforts are required everywhere on individual and also on collective scale. I would like the citizens to become proactive in society and try to solve the issues within your possibilities.

Published on: 13 December 2013
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