India Slips On Human Rights Index

NEW DELHI (TIP): India has beencited for deteriorating human rightssituation by the foremost globalwatchdog of civil liberties with NewDelhi getting raked over the coals forabuses and mishandling cases rangingfrom the Maoist insurgence in centralIndia to the protests against a nuclearpower plant in Tamil Nadu.Human Rights Watch’s 665-pageworld annual opus on the subject for2012 released on Friday also zeroed inon the rape of a Delhi medical studentthat convulsed the nation and broughtworldwide opprobrium, sayingviolence against women continuedunabated in India with increasedreports of sexual assault.

“Global revulsion over the Delhigang rape should send a message tothe Indian leadership to bring aboutlong overdue reforms to criminalizethe full range of sexual assault and toprotect women’s dignity and rights,”Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW’s SouthAsia director said in a statement thatcame with the report. “Urgentlyneeded are resources to enforceIndia’s laws and hold accountableofficials who don’t discharge theirduties in a sensitive way.

“The criticism came even as India’sambassador to Washington NirupamaRao wrote on op-ed in the Wall StreetJournal on Thursday promising thatthe government is “determined tochange our nation’s laws—as well asthe implementation of those laws—toprevent such heinous acts in thefuture.””All of this energy anddetermination to improve, to bringabout and demand change, is good forIndia. It reflects the strongdemocratic experience andinstitutions in the country,” Raowrote, referring to the publicoutpouring of anger.

However, HRW’s tract on India wasconspicuous for its anti-governmenttone while giving a wide berth torebels groups and NGOs, some ofwhich are suspect in governmenteyes, particularly with respect totheir funding. In fact, the reportcriticized the government’s continuedto use the Foreign ContributionRegulation Act (FCRA) to restrictaccess to foreign funding for domesticorganizations. It also panned newrestrictions on internet freedomarising in part from concerns aboutthe use of social media to organizeprotests.However, the report acknowledgedthat the government did makeprogress in some areas, including newlegislation to protect children fromsexual abuse and stronger support forinternational resolutions to protecthuman rights in other countries.

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