False ‘human rights’ charges against India

False ‘human rights’ charges against India

By THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN | 7 October, 2017

Those who live in glasshouses need to think before flinging rocks in the direction of others. A useful warning, although ignored by entities such as the European Union, which collectively and individually throws accusations of human rights violations against states, institutions and individuals with daily frequency. This is the same EU that seeks to protect the billionaire status of several of its citizens by using myriad means to block access to low cost yet high quality medicines from India. Both the EU and the United States (which too talks ad nauseam about “human rights” violations, except those within its territories) have been relentless in seeking to hobble the generic pharma industry in India, often by influencing officials and other policymakers in ways that would not bear scrutiny, were these to ever be made public. Only when a flood of humanity literally landed at their ports and transit crossings did the EU reluctantly admit a fraction of the refugee influx caused by the policies followed in Libya and Syria by the UK and France. In this context, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany would have been a far worthier recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize than an international nuclear disarmament committee that has nothing practical to show for its presumed labours. The fact is that nuclear weapons stockpiles are becoming deadlier by the hour, even while yet more states are crossing the threshold of capacity to make and to deliver a nuclear weapon, some because of the threat of invasion and worse by states possessing nuclear weapons. The ineffective and insignificant organisation that was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize has had an insignificant effect on humanity, although it is possible that several of its members must be familiar faces in the salons of Paris, London, Berlin and Stockholm. In contrast, Chancellor Merkel went against the insular mood of her own people in welcoming over a million migrants from North Africa and West Asia. This despite the fact that Germany was not a proponent of regime change in either Libya or Syria, in contrast to the US, UK and France. 

In the latter country, President Emmanuel Macron resembles some of the earlier leaders of India in his preachiness and moralising, ever willing to insert himself into any global conflict, in the expectation that he can charm the world as effortlessly as he won over the voters in France, preventing a second round contest that may have resulted in the upset victory of Marine Le Pen, were Francois Fillon, her main opponent, as seemed the case until Macron emerged almost by magic from nowhere, winning over the backing of the media and big business almost immediately and mysteriously.

The same individuals, such as Senator Bob Corker of the US, who routinely badmouth India and its record, are at the same time fierce champions of the very same billionaire interests that have ensured a steady decline in the relative incomes of the lower and middle classes in his country. In contrast, millionaires and billionaires (such as the Senator himself) are doing very well, and are expected to do even better because of the exertions of those whose troughs have been abundantly nourished by the interests preventing genuine competition and access to cheaper alternatives, including in matters as important as health and housing. Over the past few months, there has risen a crescendo of charges that claim India to have the largest number of “slaves” in the world. Certainly, many children (i.e. those below the age of 18) work in India rather than go to school. The failure to universalise education is among the many shortfalls that have been caused by the erroneous policies of those who ought to have known better, yet are celebrated in the history books despite presiding over oceans of human deprivation and poverty. However, both civil society and elected governments at the Centre and the States have been working to ensure that abuses are reduced. Democracy in India may have not worked at race-car speed, and sometimes plodded along the way a bullock cart would, but the condition of the people has been steadily rising. It reveals bias and selectivity to ignore this, and to blacken the reputation of India in order to create non-commercial barriers to exports from India, including those in which the poorer sections play a huge role, such as textiles and carpets. Those who have joined in the well-funded campaign to denigrate India as an authoritarian state that routinely does injustice to its citizens, need to be called out and exposed for what they are. Defenders of billionaire interests located in high-income countries, who seek through commercially motivated calumny posing as global morality to block the poor of India from making progress on the same development path as the richer countries had trotted along in previous decades. 

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