Mohammad Zainal Abedin, from New York
Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, desperately tries to mobilise support to get UN Security Council permanent membership to gain veto power and establish India as a superpower. In New York on September 26, 2015 Modi hosted a summit of G-4 that included Germany, Japan, Brazil and India, where he demanded the inclusion of the world’s largest democracies to make UN more representative and credible.
Earlier the United States of America, the Russian Federation and China, the three permanent members of UN Security Council (UNSC), technically deterred India’s dream to get UNSC membership, as they declined a proposal to reform the UN Security Council in what could ultimately pave the way for India to enter the prestigious and powerful body, its permanent members having veto power. India’s neighbours apprehend if India gets veto power it will use it not only to squeeze them, but also to occupy them to implement its dream of ‘Akhand Bharat’ initially merging those countries to India which broke away and became independent countries in 1947.Indian policymakers dismayingly recalled American President Mr. Barak Obama, who in 2010 asserted that India deserves a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. But the analysts believe Obama honouring diplomatic courtesy and strategic policy intentionally overlooked or avoided the irritable realities.
The ground reality shows India will have to go a long way get UNSC permanent membership. None of the India’s neighboring countries will sincerely welcome Indian admission in UNSC, as India poses like she is their guardian. India must remove such apprehension from the psyche of its neighbors by shunning its dream of Akhand Bharat. Such dream prompts Indian policymakers to wage a policy of disturbing, squeezing and controlling them. None of its neighbors are harmonious with India, whose support is very crucial, for it in getting the support of all the veto-powered nations of the UN.
India’s desperately makes bids to get UNSC permanent seat simply highlighting one ground that out every six of the global population one is an Indian. But simply huge population cannot be a criterion for attaining the Security Council membership.
Indians to brand as super power and hence enter UNSC also point to their extravagant military muscle as another factor, but such military might is, in fact, a burden for India, as it eats up the vitals. Her army is engaged in a never-ending war inside the country since its inception in 1947. But millions of marginal people are distressed and live in urban slums or in thatched huts in remote areas who are constantly chased by starvation, malnutrition, disease, illiteracy, and social or caste hatred.
Another most serious factor is that India lags far behind in all sectors from the current veto-powered members is that her social indicators are poorer than other aspirants (Japan, Germany, Brazil, or Africa) for the same position in the UNSC. Added to those are communal riots and caste hatred, religious and social violence, poor human rights records. A BBC report says, “Seventy-five percent of India’s population lives in rural poverty, which results in a stagnated economy—-. A typical farmer feeds and clothes a family of four on $2 per day. —Poverty drives many farmers to suicide. Typical villages lack basic services, communications and infrastructure, resulting in a stagnated rural economy —–.”
Mumbai, the dazzling city, is home to 22 million people, and over 70 percent of them live in slums. In recent times, though some of the slum people were removed, the position remains unchanged. People living in the slums have limited access to electricity, clean water, food, and educational opportunities. The slums are also home to over seven million children under the age of 14 who are growing up in abject poverty. As young as five and six years olds are forced to work for survival. Slum children work as rag pickers, sewerage cleaners and other menial jobs all around Mumbai, earning a few cents a month for their families.
Majority people of India are so poor that they are deprived of so many modern amenities. Dean Spears, an economist and visiting researcher at the Delhi School of Economics, writes, in India “Open defecation is everybody’s problem. It is the quintessential ‘public bad’ with negative spillover effects, even on households that do not practice it.”
A new World Health Organization (WHO) report says more than half a billion people in India still “continue to defecate in gutters, behind bushes or in open water bodies, with no dignity or privacy”. They are among the 48 percent of Indians who do not have access to proper sanitation.
India is estimated to have one third of the world’s poor. India’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) need to undergo significant changes to address the current malnutrition crisis in the country, according to a World Bank report. The prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world, and is nearly double that of Sub-Saharan Africa, the report says.
Globally, an estimated one in four children under age 5 suffer from stunting, a form of malnutrition in which children are shorter than normal growth for their age. Almost 62 million children (48 percent) across all income groups are stunted. Stunting, or chronic malnutrition, is accompanied by a host of problems—weak immune systems, risk of sickness and disease, arrested cognitive and physical development, and a greater risk of dying before age 5.
India has 287 million illiterate adults, the largest population globally and 37 percent of the world total says a report by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). In India there prevail huge disparities between the rich and the poor in all sectors from education to health care.
According to government statistics on an average 44,000 women still die every year at the time of giving birth. Health Minister J P Nadda on March 17, 2015 informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply that as per Sample Registration System (SRS) 2013, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in the country is 40 per 1000 live births which translates into the death of an estimated 10.68 lakh children up to the age of one year annually.
The problem of gender-based violence remains serious. National Crime Record Bureau statistics show crimes against women increased by 7.1 percent nationwide since 2010. There has been a rise in the number of incidents of rape recorded too. 24,206 incidents of rape were recorded in 2011, a rise of 9 percent from the previous year. More than half of the victims are between 18 and 30 years of age.
Figures indicate that 10.6 percent of the total victims of rape were girls under 14 years of age, while 19 percent were teens between the ages of 14 and 18. Under the IPC (Indian Penal Code) crimes against women include rape, kidnapping and abduction, homicide for dowry, torture, molestation, sexual harassment, and the importation of girls. A total of 2,28,650 incidents of crime against women was reported in India during 2011.
India projects itself as the largest democracy. Its democracy is confined to holding elections. There is no democracy in those regions whose people strongly believe that they don’t belong to India, where people are socially discriminated against and persecuted, economically deprived and exploited. India also behaves with them like an occupation power. An Indian human rights activist Henri Tiphagne acknowledged “We have all these great human rights institutions, but still nobody in India gets justice when the state murders one of their family members,” Same position, in the truest sense of the term, prevails all over India, Northeastern region or Maoist-infested areas that cover about 11 provinces.
Some of the laws that the Indian parliament has passed are utterly contrary to democratic values and norms. Some draconian laws are: Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), Unlawful Activities (prevention) Amendment Ordinance, Indian Telegraph Act, Criminal Procedure Code, Newspapers Incitements to Offense Act Official Secrets Act, National Security Act, Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA), Disruptive Areas Act, Public Safety Act, among others.
Most of these laws are used against the people of so-called ‘disturbed areas’. Availing these laws the armed forces can arrest, even shoot to death anyone, on suspicion or take him into custody without a warrant. They can enter and search any premise in order to arrest so-called ‘wanted’ person, or to recover arms, ammunition or explosive substances. They can stop and search any vehicle or vessel that is suspected to be carrying wanted persons or weapons.
Availing such excuses, in many cases, soldiers simply enter the house with the intention of raping the women. Incidents of rape committed by the army are so random and intolerable that the women’s community in Manipur were enraged, chagrined and agitated. Their anger went to its zenith when on July 11, 2004 a 32-year Manipuri woman, Thanglam Manorama, was lifted from her house by the Assam Rifles personnel, raped and shot her to death. This cruel behavior of the army made the Manipur so disturbed and perturbed that on July 15, 2004 they stripped themselves and demonstrated in front of the Assam Rifles Headquarters.
Army officers have legal immunity for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under most of these laws. As a result, custodial death, death in encounters, death without trial, arrest or detention on suspicion, demolition of residential houses or prayer houses or shops occur frequently in India which is branded as the largest democracy in the world. Democracy in India is seen only during elections, but it is absent from Indian social life. Under such a situation Human rights in India is alarmingly in the lowest state among the existing permanent members of the UNSC and the aspirants that seek the same status.
To maintain its control over Kashmir and of Northeastern seven sisters comprising Manipur, Tripura and Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, troops lunch despotic and ruthless rule. Indian military and intelligence agencies control those areas where human rights are nakedly violated.
To comprehend the gravity of situation in seven sisters, one may follow Irom Chanu Sharmila, a Manipuri civil rights and political activist and poet who has been on hunger strike since November 4, 2000 demanding annulment of the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act).
On November 2, 2000, Manipuri insurgents attacked an Assam Rifles convoy near Malmo town of Manipur. In retaliation, the troops shot at civilians at a nearby bus-stop that left 10 civilians dead, including a 62-year old woman and an 18-year old Sinam Chandramani, who had been awarded the bravery award by the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Besides, as many as 42 people were dragged out of their houses and severely beaten up by the Assam Rifles personnel.
The brutal combing operation enraged Irom Sharmila so much that it prompted her to go on a fast-to-death (hunger strike) demanding the repeal of the AFSPA. About 15 years passed by, but neither Sharmila bends to end her hunger strike till date nor her hunger strike could move the largest democracy India to repeal the law.
The most serious allegation that one may bring to the forefront is that India dishonors the UNSC, so to say United Nations. The UN Security Council resolution adopted on April 21, 1948 stood for a referendum in Kashmir under UN supervision to decide whether the people of Kashmir to decide their fate. The resolution is yet to be honoured. How a country that dishonours the UN Security Council resolution could desire to get its permanent seat?
The realities of communal and caste violence, crime against the women and religious minorities, above all, the psyche of the South Asian people, have to be addressed before engaging in an all-out campaign for UNSC membership.
(The contributor is a journalist and researcher based in New York, USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mohammad Zainal Abedin, from New York