The Concern Over Human Rights In India

On July 27th, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken travelled to India, where he met with key leaders in the nation and discussed the close relationship between the two countries. The following day, Blinken and India’s Foreign Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, held a meeting over the international security partnership shared by both states, monetary relief for the coronavirus pandemic, global democracy, and the future of Afghanistan.

These conversations succeeded in furthering the connection between India and the United States, building upon their mutual goals of peace and stability. However, one pressing issue of freedom escaped meaningful discussion: human rights within India itself.

In recent years, India has come under scrutiny for the human rights concerns that prevail in the country. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, so-called anti-terrorist laws have marred Indian civil society, and governmental actions that incite religious discrimination have left minority groups in dangerous positions. According to the 2020 India Report on Human Rights Practices from the U.S. Department of State, issues in the region consist of extrajudicial killings, torture, political prisoners, restrictions on freedom of the press and expression, child labour, and further national offences.

Religious intolerance on a governmental level, combined with internal corruption, has shaped much of the violence that has been seen under the Modi administration. Muslims, the country’s most significant minority, have been targeted by legislative restrictions, including a religion-based citizenship law, and subject to discriminatory attacks due to Hindu nationalism. Additionally, in a report from the Human Rights Watch, problems in India have been detailed to include punishment for political opposition, the use of internet shutdowns to control social protest, and attacks on reporters and human rights organizations.

Concern over the increasing absence of human rights in India has been raised many times. Multiple international actors have called upon the Indian government to treat its citizens more acceptably. However, these external responses to the South Asian country’s humanitarian abuses lack substance. Almost every major nation and organization has failed to push past verbal criticism in addressing the issue. As a result, India’s injustice has received replies deficient of strength and efficacy.

These empty condemnations come from even the biggest proponents of democracy and human rights in the world. Despite the promise Antony Blinken gave to discuss India’s human rights record, the shallow conversation remained in line with the objective of the United States, which was to keep India as a close ally. Criticism from the European Union, the United Nations, multiple NGOs, and other international powers have been met with hostility. The situation is aggravated by the fact that Prime Minister Modi’s government continues to deny wrongdoing. According to Reuters, in reference to Blinken’s plan to confront Indian leaders about the humanitarian concerns in the country, the foreign ministry of India said that nation was proud of its pluralistic traditions and happy to discuss the issue with the U.S. Secretary of State.

Attempts to deal with problems in India are consistently obstructed by political dealings, which result in ineffective responses that are seen from around the world. The relationship between India and the United States is an example of this. Antony Blinken stated that “there are few relationships in the world that are more vital than one between the U.S. and India. We are the world’s two leading democracies and our diversity fuels our national strength.”

India’s current condition, however, challenges this assertion. The blatant attacks and disregard for fundamental aspects of democratic systems and values do not demonstrate much credibility. According to Amnesty International, critics of the government, journalists, students, and human rights activists have all faced severe maltreatment, including arbitrary arrests and harassment from police. The human rights violations that have transpired, especially regarding political opponents and restrictions on universal freedoms, dispute the idea that India is indeed a reliable democratic institution. Despite these occurrences, there is an apparent lack of consequences for the South Asian country, much of which has political grounds.

Inconsequence is where the problem lies in addressing India’s human rights record. The hollow pressure placed upon Modi’s government has not worked and is unlikely to in the future. There is no significant determination to resolve the issue—that absence of repercussions only threatens to cause further damage to human rights in India. With no real consequences, Prime Minister Modi and his party can persist in abusing Indian citizens. While countries and organizations worldwide condemn India and its prejudicial activities, there is little effort upon outside actors to encourage lasting change in the country; they have other priorities.

With the unsuccess of spoken disapproval becoming evident, finding a practical solution is increasingly necessary. Due to the complexities of global politics, this is not a simple endeavour with a straightforward answer. As is recognized by the international community, India holds significant power in the modern world. With the rise of China and the United States’ attempts to counteract their gain, India presents itself as a critical ally. Furthermore, despite the flaws that their system holds, India still has the largest population of any democracy. This status makes confrontation difficult. Anything more than verbal disapproval puts vital international relationships at risk.

For there to be improvements in human rights in India, an alternative approach is required. Promoting the genuine acceptance of diversity and countering the Modi government’s violent policies will need something more than vague phrases. Monitoring and reporting on human rights in India, and the subsequent large-scale presentation of those findings, can help improve the situation. Although this is important, it is not enough. Among other incentives to develop human rights, requirements built into trade deals can address the dilemma. Using a more direct manner to confront the issues within India’s government, like that of monetary and political punishments, is another strategy that could prompt change. However, these options run the risk of economically and physically damaging the citizens of India, the very people these actions intend to protect. Therefore, a different solution is needed to create a situation in which possible change will occur.

One option is to discredit India’s standing as a stable democracy. Losing that status, even informally, is dangerous and holds more political risks for the administration than it does for the Indian population. Accountability is then placed on the abusers, the current government, as opposed to people, who should not endure added suffering for the humanitarian crimes of their leaders. It does not threaten peace or stability to an exceptional degree and only creates an environment of subversive shame that carries the potential to advance Indian human rights. If enacted by a considerable number of world authorities, this might have the power to push India into stability. When aligned with international organizations that address other societal concerns, like Hindu nationalism, reducing the human rights offences in India is an attainable ideal.

Undertaking the problem of human rights in India is crucial. People continue to be hurt by aggressive policies and governmental actions, and the lack of a substantial response by international actors only amplifies the issue. The violation of human rights is not limited to being an immediate danger, either—these abuses can be gateways to further violence and insecurity. Whether the result is destructive government oppression or a civil uprising, infractions on human rights can imperil the nation’s future. Thus, protecting human rights is as much a current affair as it is a preventive one. The government must take it seriously, and that means acting beyond empty and ineffective words.


Leave a Reply