India has slammed the UNHRC chief for her comments on farmers’ protest and scrapping of special status to J&K

The Government of India has set a goal of doubling the income of farmers by 2024. The purpose of enacting three Farm Acts is to enable farmers to realise better price for their produce and enhance their income, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Indra Mani Pandey on Friday said at the General Debate on Oral Update of the High Commissioner at the 46th Session of Human Rights Council.

Talking about benefits of farm laws, enacted by the Indian government in September 2020, he said it will particularly benefit small farmers and offer more choices to those farmers who opt for them. “The Government has shown utmost respect for protests by farmers and has remained engaged in dialogue with them to address their concerns,” India’s permanent representative to the UN said.

He expressed his disappointment that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s remarks on the farmers’ protests and others lacked “objectivity and impartiality”.

“We were perplexed to note some of the comments by the High Commissioner. She appeared as oblivious of the enormous efforts made by my Government to address the challenges, as indeed of many of the factors driving these challenges. The unprovoked violence on our Republic Day in the name of farmers' rights, apparently, left her unmoved. Her indifference to terrorism is, of course, not new. Objectivity and impartiality have to be the hallmarks of any Human Rights assessment. We are sorry to see that the High Commissioner's oral update is lacking in both,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva said, slamming Michelle Bachelet.

He said as the world's largest democracy, India continues to make every effort in ensuring sustainable development and enjoyment of basic human rights for all its citizens. “We have made tremendous progress in realisation of these twin and mutually reinforcing objectives. We hope that the Council and its institutions will appreciate the positive steps we have taken in realisation of these goals,” Indra Mani Pandey said.

With regard to scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution, he said the constitutional changes in the status of Jammu and Kashmir made by Parliament in August 2019 were a historic decision. It has been welcomed by the people of India, including people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“It has given impetus to socio-economic development, end decades of discrimination and combat cross border terrorism, which has been the key hindrance in full enjoyment of human rights by the people. We have restored grassroots democracy, through District Development Council (DDC) elections, and provided good governance through the 'Back to Village' initiative. There has been a significant decline in terrorist attacks and progressive national laws have been extended to Jammu and Kashmir to enable the people there to enjoy the same rights as the people in rest of India,” he said.

The Permanent Representative to the UN at Geneva maintained that India's approach to global promotion and protection of human rights is based on its own experience as an inclusive and pluralistic society and a vibrant democracy with a secular polity.

“Our Constitution has enshrined basic human rights as fundamental rights. Our watchful Parliament, independent judiciary, vibrant media and proactive civil society have contributed in full enjoyment of human rights by our people,” he said.

“Our approach to the Human Rights Council is guided by our spirit of engagement, dialogue and consultation. We believe that promotion and protection of human rights is best pursued through dialogue, consultation and cooperation and provision of technical assistance and capacity building,” he added.

As the Council completes 15 years, it is time to assess its achievements and failures and deliberate on the ways to strengthen and reform it so as to enable it to achieve its objectives.

India's abiding commitment to promotion and protection of human rights has been manifest in our strategy to deal with COVID 19 pandemic, aimed at saving both the lives and livelihoods, he asserted.

“Guided by our commitment to the welfare of the entire humanity,we have provided, while meeting our own enormous requirements, essential medicines and equipment to more than 150 countries, mostly as grants and supplied vaccines as grants and allowed commercial export to various countries,” Indra Mani Pandey maintained.

“The imperative of achieving sustainable development for realisation of basic human rights cannot be overemphasized. We have, as part of our developmental agenda, undertaken targeted policy interventions to empower the marginalized and vulnerable sections of our society and to improve their access to education, housing, healthcare, social protection, basic services, employment and finances,” he said.