India’s Dismal Record on Human Rights


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Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is conducted by UN Human Rights Forum. The member country tables its human rights report and the NGOs and other interested parties table their country specific parallel report. The other member countries give their comments on the country’s report.

Recently, India’s UPR was concluded and India received over 250 suggestions and comments to improve its human rights situation. India will now have to come back with the status of the recommendations and comments by September 2017.

It is interesting that there is at least an addition of over 80 comments from the previous review. India’s human right situation is getting worse from the point of view of other member countries.

This is very interesting as the RSS/BJP government is so aggressive to show that India is emerging as a nation in the international diplomacy, but it is not able to prove to the world at large that it is doing anything to keep human rights at the centre of India’s development.

Why is India still a laggard in human rights area despite being the largest democracy in the world?

The answer is India’s caste system and the casteist attitudes of Indians to buttonhole people in their social order. With the caste system so alive in this country, it cannot become a truly democratic country.

There are limits to what India can achieve given the constraint of the caste system and now increasing communal polarisation in India. Though the UPR accounts the country’s human rights performance on many counts, the state of human rights and access to human rights of the Dalits, Adivasis, and Minorities is pathetic.

The Dalits and Adivasis are discriminated and they lack basic access to the state and its apparatus. The situation of the minorities is drastically worsening. The hoity-toity establishment of the upper castes in India has no occasion to celebrate India’s achievements in any field. The job market is getting worse day by day and there is a general slowdown in the economy, but no concrete steps are being taken, except attracting the foreign investments in the areas which do not relate to the life of ordinary Indian citizens.

In this regard, the UPR should be a real eye-opener for India’s political classes to really look at two things: how to create more democratic and equal India and raise the image of India in the eyes of other nations. When we boast of being the largest democracy, we should be shameful of being acting contrary to the basic ethos of our constitution.

Author – Mangesh Dahiwale, Human Rights Activist

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