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National Statement of India by Secretary (West) at the High Level Segment during the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council

February 26, 2020

Mister Vice-President,

I congratulate the President of the Human Rights Council on assuming this important responsibility. My delegation offers her the assurances of our fullest cooperation.

Let me begin by inviting fellow delegates to join me in remembering Mahatma Gandhi in this the 150th anniversary year of his birth. The wisdom, humanism and keen sense of justice of this apostle of peace and non violence must guide us as we seek to achieve the ideals enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights and the 2030 Agenda.

Excellency,

We live today in difficult, yet hopeful times. We are beset as never before by borderless challenges of climate change, terrorism, pandemics and rising inequality, including of access to the digital domain.

Both old and new challenges impact upon the full and effective enjoyment of human rights. There is no alternative to reformed multilateralism and issue-based cooperation to find fair and equitable solutions that will ensure that no-one is left behind.

Excellency,

We therefore believe in Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas: Inclusive development for all and with the trust of all. This is the core principle that inspires the robust socio-economic policies that we have adopted to address complex and inter-related needs of our people. Some of the significant steps include:

  • The world's largest financial inclusion scheme, covering 370 million people;
  • Free Health Insurance for 500 million people;
  • Providing 150 million homes for the underprivileged over the next 5 years;
  • Highly concessional loans to encourage entrepreneurship, for upto 140 million less wealthy citizens; 76% of the beneficiaries so far are women;
  • Upto 50 million free cooking gas connections for women from rural households in the poorest strata of society;
  • Construction of over 110 million sanitary units in five years, in the world's biggest sanitary services project;
  • Distribution of upto US$100 bn in schemes to support our poorest farmers
  • Commitment to ensure that every one of our 472 million children lives a life of dignity, in safety and with the right to protection against discrimination and exploitation.


Each of these initiatives mirrors the targets of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, for achieving the 2030 Agenda. Each one allows us to ensure that no one is left behind.

Excellency,

Even as we cater to the growing needs of our people within the constraints of our limited resources, we are in the forefront in sharing with our partners in the developing world our experiences and expertise, including through grant assistance and demand-driven low-interest loans, as well as through capacity-building. Every year we are training more than 10000 participants from across the world and the numbers are growing. These partnerships are rooted in mutual understanding and solidarity and provide a template for global cooperation.

Excellency,

The need for global cooperation is nowhere more evident than in preserving Mother Earth. Respect for the environment is a part of India’s civilizational inheritance. We do believe, however, that combating climate change requires concerted global action and there is no 'equality' of suffering especially for the most vulnerable on our planet. That is why we have always advocated "Climate Justice" and "Equity".

This is also the reason why our Prime Minister proposed at the UN General Assembly last year a Coalition for Disaster-Resilient Infrastructure, to jointly mitigate some of the socio-economic consequences of natural disasters.

At the same time, we have increased efforts to prioritize renewable energy including by making it more affordable. One such initiative is the International Solar Alliance, for which membership is now open to all UN States.

Prime Minister Modi has also called for more sustainable lifestyles. As part of this he has called for doing away with single use plastics in India by 2022.

Excellency,

Another global challenge that we all confront is of terrorism. It is the most pernicious violation of a fundamental human right, that is, the Right to Life.

As a nation that has suffered for decades from cross-border terrorism, India calls for decisive action against those who direct, control, fund, abet or shelter terrorists.

We are happy to note that the HRC Advisory Committee is working on a report on this issue. We remain ready to work with all partners to fully stop all support from reaching terrorists, denying terrorists access to safe havens, and extraditing and bringing to justice perpetrators of terrorism, and their supporters.

Excellency,

Speaking of terrorism, it is only logical to respond to the remarks made by the delegation of Pakistan, which is the epicenter of global terrorism.

It is more than a little ironical that a nation that has become the world's leading exporter of terror and violence seeks to lecture others about human rights. Nonetheless, let me set the record straight on the issues raised.

Jammu and Kashmir was, is and shall forever remain an integral part of India. The transformative changes wrought by our Parliament last August were meant to strengthen the integration of the State, including to give fullest play to representative government from the grassroots level upward. It was intended to ensure the extension of all progressive legislations passed for the entire country to cover this region, and to resume the pace of socio-economic development in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Indeed, these measures are already showing positive results. Despite Pakistan's best efforts--over decades--to destabilize this State through externally-instigated terror and a campaign of canards and untruth, the situation on the ground is quite normal. Most temporary restrictions--imposed solely to ensure safety of the people from Pakistani trained terrorist attacks--have already been removed, political processes have resumed, telecom facilities have been largely restored, developmental activities are being undertaken at a rapid pace and there is access for all to education and healthcare. Schools, Colleges and Universities have resumed and regular examinations are being held. Hospitals, clinics and pharmacies are well-stocked and staffing is at full capacity. These have been achieved despite Pakistan's frenetic attempts to promote both violence within our territory--with an 81% increase in infiltration attempts since last August--and disinformation outside. Yesterday's speech was a good example of the latter.

Pakistan also felt it necessary to offer advise and warnings about the situation within India. To paraphrase the poet Robert Burns, someone should give them the power to see themselves as others see them.

Let me tell the delegation from Pakistan that India is a nation where democracy, including the right to protest, is vibrantly and noisily celebrated every day, where diversity has been a way of life since times immemorial and where dignity of every human is protected by a robust Constitutional framework. We take pride in the fact that our Constitution begins by first of all safeguarding the rights of all--citizen and foreigner alike. This is entirely in the spirit of our civilization and our democracy, where we do not distinguish between the divinity inherent in all humanity. It is Pakistan that would do well to look to its own house and introspect about the condition of its people, especially its minorities.

Excellency,

Our approach to the UN Human Rights Council is guided by the same spirit of engagement, dialogue and consultation which animates our democracy. The promotion and protection of human rights is best pursued in this manner, as it achieves lasting results. We know from our own experience that diversity of context, development and conviction requires a greater effort to find consensus. It is in this spirit that we reaffirm our commitment to bringing a pluralistic, moderate, balanced and consensual spirit to the Human Rights Council.

Excellency,

Let me reiterate that India is making every effort for full and effective enjoyment of all human rights by all its people. This is what our citizens and our democracy expect from us. We will ensure that no one is left behind.

I thank you, Excellency.

 

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