India is an ancient civilization with immense and rich diversity. It also holds the credentials of being the world’s largest democracy. Earlier this year, the world was witness to the biggest democratic exercise in human history, involving 900 million Indian voters and over a million polling stations. Our commitment to democracy is unshakable, and this is appreciated globally.
Our Constitution is supreme and guarantees fundamental rights to all our citizens, without any distinction. It secures justice, liberty and equality and promotes fraternity among all. Our belief in our secular polity is unflinching.
Our independent judiciary is the guardian of these fundamental rights and liberties.
Our free media, vibrant civil society and the impartial human rights institutions provide an effective framework for protection of human rights of all sections of society. Our Parliament has been adopting a series of progressive legislations. The human rights institutions have been further strengthened in consonance with the Paris Principles.
The Government is taking affirmative actions to promote socio-economic equality and justice for the underprivileged sections of society in the spirit of its motto of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas” – which means We will carry everyone with us and leave no one behind.
Welfare programmes and schemes specifically designed for empowerment of women, children, the differently abled and other underprivileged sections of society such as – Beti Bacho Beti Padho, Jan Dhan, Ujawala, Swach Bharat, Jal Shakti, represent my Government’s determination to eliminate inequity and universalize the basic rights.
The recent legislative measures taken by India within the framework of its Constitution will ensure that these progressive measures will also be fully applicable to our citizens in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. As a result, there will be an end to gender discrimination, including on property rights and local bodies representation. There will be better protection of juvenile rights and laws against domestic violence. The rights to education, information and work will now be applicable.
Longstanding discrimination against refugees and under privileged sections will end. These decisions were taken by our Parliament after a full debate that was televised and enjoyed widespread support. We wish to reiterate that this sovereign decision, like other legislations passed by Parliament, is entirely internal to India. No country can accept interference in its internal affairs, certainly not India.
Despite challenging circumstances, Jammu & Kashmir’s Civil Administration is ensuring basic services, essential supplies, normal functioning of institutions, mobility and nearly full connectivity. Democratic processes have been initiated. Restrictions are being eased continuously. Temporary preventive and precautionary measures were necessitated to ensure safety and security of our citizens in the face of credible threats of cross-border terrorism.
Today, terrorism poses a grave challenge to the commitment of the international community to protect the right to life and security of people globally. It is extinguishing innocent lives and spreading fear and uncertainty. Those who abet, finance and support terrorism in any form on territory under their control are in truth the worst violators of human rights. The world, in particular India, has suffered greatly on account of the activities by practitioners of state sponsored terrorism and it is time to collectively take decisive and firm action against terror groups and their abettors who threaten the fundamental human right to life. We must speak out. Silence only emboldens terrorists. It also encourages their intimidatory tactics. India appeals to the international community to work together in the fight against terrorism and their sponsors.
India firmly believes in a constructive approach to shape the human rights discourse in the Council. We need to find practical measures to protect and promote economic, social and cultural rights of the people globally.
We should call out those who are misusing this platform for malicious political agendas under the garb of human rights. Those who are attempting this speak on the human rights of minorities in other countries whilst trampling upon them at will in their own country. They cry victim when they actually are the perpetrators.
One delegation has given a running commentary with offensive rhetoric of false allegations and concocted charges against my country. The world is aware that this fabricated narrative comes from the epicentre of global terrorism, where ring leaders were sheltered for years. This nation conducts cross-border terrorism as a form of ‘alternate diplomacy’. My delegation will separately exercise the right to respond.
On the National Register for Citizens. It is a statutory, transparent, non- discriminatory legal process mandated and monitored by the Supreme Court of India. Any decision that is taken during the process of its implementation will comply with Indian Law and will be consistent with India’s democratic traditions.
In conclusion, I reiterate that as a responsible member of the international community, India firmly believes in a constructive approach to promote and protect human rights. We believe that human rights are best protected when national institutions are strengthened. We do so as a nation of 1.3 billion people, which embodies the highest principles of democracy, tolerance and unity in diversity. India takes this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment towards meaningful engagement with the Council for promotion and protection of human rights everywhere.
(This is the text of the National Statement delivered by Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary (East) in India’s Ministry of External Affairs, during General Debate at UNHRC Session in Geneva on September 10, 2019)
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