//CHRO statement on World Human Rights Day, 10th Dec 2006

CHRO statement on World Human Rights Day, 10th Dec 2006

A Statement by the Confederation of Human Rights Organizations, Kerala on the World Human Rights Day, 10, Dec 2006

On 10 December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has become a universal standard for defending and promoting human rights. Every year on 10 December, Human Rights Day marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration.

10 December

This year Human Rights Day focuses on fighting poverty as a matter of obligation, not of charity. Poverty is a cause and a product of human rights violations. It is this double edge that makes poverty probably the gravest human rights challenge in the world. India accounts for 40 per cent of the world's poor and its fiscal deficit is one of the highest in the world. Almost half of Indian women are still illiterate; about 40 million primary school-age children are not in school.

On 10 December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has become a universal standard for defending and promoting human rights. Every year on 10 December, Human Rights Day marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration. On Human Rights Day it is celebrated around the globe that "All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms".

Poverty and Hunger  in India 

National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO)  soon-to-be-released official report has estimated that poverty declined by a mere 0.74% during the 11-year period ended 2004-05. Although there are signs of things moving a little faster, at 0.79%, between 1999-2000 and 2004-05, going by another measure, the number of people below poverty line may have remained unchanged. The number of people living below poverty line (BPL) at 22.15% in 2004-05, compared with 26.09% in 1999-2000. In the same period, the country’s GDP grew at around 6%. This mismatch between growth and its distribution is socially worrying as it indicates a rise in economic disparities.

Economists say uneven growth often leads to social unrest which, in turn, can cause problems for politicians. Anyone consuming less than 2,100 calories in urban areas, and 2,400 calories in rural areas, is classified in the BPL category. According to NSSO, Census of India and NFHS-II, 37 percent of Dalits living below poverty in India while 45 percent them don't know how to Read and Write. The distribution of poverty in India's hierarchical society which remains skewed against traditionally disadvantaged sections of the population like Muslims, Tribals and Dalits. These disadvantaged sections accounted for 75 percent of the total number of poor people in India in 1999-2000.

In the Global Hunger Index, India ranks 117th for the prevalence of underweight children. Only Bangladesh and Nepal are worse-off. Overall, India is ranked 96th out of 119 countries covered by the index, which doesn’t paint a rosy picture per se. But India comes off far worse in its record for malnutrition in children, as measured by body weight. One-third of the babies born in India are born with low birth weight, compared to one-sixth in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, India has the highest number of street children in the world. There are no exact numbers, but conservative estimates suggest that about 18 million children live and labor in the streets of India's urban centers. Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta each have an estimated street-children population of over 100,000. 

"The average rural family today is eating nearly 100 grams less of food grains than six or seven years ago and the average per capita availability of food grains has declined sharply. In 1991, when reforms began, availability of food per person was 510 grams, today it has fallen to 437 grams" says Mr. P Sainath, the first reporter in the world to win Amnesty International's Global Human Rights Journalism Award in its inaugural year, 2000.

Giving snapshots of what he described was the spectacular inequality that has been growing faster in the past 15 years in India than at any time since the country was colonised by the British, Sainath said while India has eight billionaires and hundreds of millionaires, the country ranks 127th in the Human Development Report Index. Labour productivity has been 84 per cent in a period of reform during which real wages dropped to 24 per cent. 

India's Economic Growth Index 

The media talk to us about “emerging superpower”, with a booming sensex and a GDP growth poised to reach 8, 9 and even 10%. And it is this power crazed libido of the elite which have made them the cheerleaders of the government which is straining to become the Asian right hand of the United States. While the nation has risen to "pre-eminence" in computer and other technology, the new "technocratic class" is tiny. Also, the so-called consumer boom has benefitted at most about 15% of the population. The boom idea is exemplified by the popular phrase that India accounts for close to a third of the world's software engineers but we should understand that we are home to  a quarter of the world's undernourished.

Over two thirds of Indians live in rural villages and depend on small scale agriculture for their livelihood and survival. These people have been devastated by the nation's embrace of the Western economic model. It's caused a hidden epidemic of suicides among them because they can't compete with agribusiness. Those opting for a less severe solution are forced off their land in a futile attempt to seek refuge among the teeming masses in the cities. The result is growing poverty, deprivation and extreme human misery on a massive scale. Because of its huge population of over one billion, India stands out as a warning of the kind of future people everywhere will face unless a way is found to reverse a failed economic model that enriches the few, devastates the many and is strangling the ability of the planet to continue sustaining the abuse afflicted on it.

A recent UN report said  that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. In contrast, the bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth!  Under the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER) study, India's average per capita net worth was only 24.7 per cent of the world average, and its GDP was 29.2 % of the world average.

The scale of the exodus of capital from countries like India, which is facing major social problems is a proof of massive corruption and money laundering that will hurt the rights of India's poor.  India is ranked 70 th last year on the list of most corrupt nations, according to a transparency international survey.  Another TI study published last month, found that firms from  India were most willing to pay bribes abroad to do business. Money flowing to British Banks from India has surged to all time high, reports, Independent News Paper.  UK bank claims on India have risen $9.6bn to $19.3bn in the three years to September 2005. The total UK bank claims on  India have risen from $9.6bn to $19.3bn over the same period.

Between 1996 and 2005, the US attracted the highest s
hare of Indian direct investments approvals ($2.16 billion), followed by Russia ($1.76 billion), Mauritius ($1.04 billion) and Sudan ($964 million). Many Mauritius companies are owned by Indians who want to misuse the double tax treaty  with Government of India.  A recent World Bank Report on Doing Business  blamed  "India as a country with world's most extensive tax administration system with 9,000 pages of primary tax law" but an ordinary India citizen is not aware about the bigwigs who pay proper tax.  Russia and Sudan are famous for illegal money laundering and mafia culture. Between April 2005 and January 2006, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approved the highest FDI outflow of $225.15 million into the US. However, the actual outflow may be higher as several investments may have fallen under the automatic (approval) route,' said the a joint study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and global consultancy firm Ernst & Young.

For many of India’s working class, the media hyped boom is no help as they struggle to maintain their basic rights. India lost 13.75 million man-days and incurred Rs 181.82 crore as production-related losses because of strikes and lockouts in the first nine months of 2006, data with Ministry of Labour and Employment has revealed. 

A recent World Bank study showed that 59 per cent of the rural households(inclusive of the rich and the poor)  in India did not have a deposit account and 79 per cent had no access to credit from a formal source. Around 70 per cent of rural households (only the poor) did not have a bank account and 87 per cent did not have the access to credit from a bank or other formal institutions.

Unemployment in India

A recent national report on the employment situation in India has warned that nearly 30 percent of the country’s 716 million-strong workforce will be without jobs by 2020. Such a large scale shortage of employment in India can trigger many social security problems as the bulk of the unemployed – 85 to 90 per cent – will be in the age group of 15-29. The study titled India Labour Report presents the shortage of jobs as the flip side to the much-touted young workforce in the country. It said 213 million Indian without jobs would be a huge task for the government to manage. 

Focred Migration  and Government's ignorance against Gulf Malayalees

More than ONE million Indians migrate annually due to economical, social, religious and political reasons. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) revealed India has the dubious distinction of being a sort of 'all-rounder' in the sex trade. The report, which focuses on migration, lists trafficking as one of the greatest risks to women during the process of migration. 

Over a four million strong Indian diaspora is working in Arab world. India received the highest inbound remittance estimated at $23 billion in 2005-06. The remittances from Indians working in Gulf countries worked out to a whopping $20 billion while the remittance from other countries, (which include US, UK and the rest of the gulf ) was merely $ 3 billion.  In the first quarter of this year alone, remittances have exceeded $6 billion, says India's Finance Minister, Mr. P. Chidambaram. FDI from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to India has exceeded $2 billion this year. Indians form about half of the 2.6 million expatriate workers in the United Arab Emirates' private sector.  The Arab countries supply nearly 30 per cent of India's crude oil needs. 

Nearly half of more than three million Indians working in various Gulf countries are from Kerala. They are credited with having boosted Kerala's economy in the past three decades by sending remittances worth billions of rupees every month. During 2004, the remittance was reached 18460 crore rupees. As a result of remittances, the per capita income in Kerala has increased by 5,678. Indians form about half of the 2.6 million expatriate workers in the United Arab Emirates' private sector.

Foreign remittances to the state have been 7 times of what kerala received from the Government of India as budget support. They have formed 1.8 times of the annual budget of the state and 1.74 times the revenue receipts of the state and the remittance were sufficient to wipe out 60% of the state's debt in 2003! As the district level, remittances were the highest in Thrissur Dist with 3,234 Crore. Malappuram came next with 2892 Crore.

36.5 % of emigrant Malayalees resides in U.A.E, and 26.7 % Saudi Arabia. Hindus constitued 31.2 % ( Among them 36.1 % are Brahmins while only 3.1 % Sheduled Castes ) and Christians constitued 25.1%. 43.7 % emigrants are muslims. During 2004, Kerala's muslim population reduced to 25.9 % from 27.1% in 1999. The largest increase during (199-2004) in the number of NRKs was not among Muslims (17.3%) but among Christians (53.9%).

Among Hindus, the Brahmin community was the most educated (51%) followed by Martoma Syrian Christians (47.5%). Muslims are at the bottom and are at par with Sheduled Castes, only 15 % of them fall in the high education group. Muslims are the most backward community in Kerala with respect to human resources.

The total remittace of 7,977 crore consists of 2,365 crore recieved by Hindu households, Rs 2,021 crore by Christians households and Rs. 3,590 crore recieved by Muslim households.

(Source : Gulf Revisited:Economic Consequences of Emigration from Kerala, Emigration and Unemployment, September 2004, K.C. Zachariah and S. Irudaya Rajan, http://www.cds.edu) 

Unfortunately, the Government of India, continuously  ignored the basic needs of Indians Citizens working in Gulf countries. On the other hand, the less remitting, foreign citizens of Indian origin enjoyed heartier welcome at our home land due to their proximity to the west. 

Women in India

According to the 2001 census, female literacy in India is 54.16 per cent against male literacy of 75.85 per cent. Most of the working women remain outside the organised sector: A mere 2.3 per cent women are administrators and managers, and 20.5 per cent professional and technical workers. Women to men ratio was feared to reach 20:80 by the year 2020 as female feutus killing is rampant.

The Census 2001 statistics reveal that the child sex ratio in slum areas  are better than "non-slum areas" inhibited by fairly well-off people. The data also shows that the girl child is treated better in rural India as compared to urban India.

India has 4mn prostitutes nationwide and 60% of the prostitutes are from the Scheduled Castes and Tribes or other backward caste.

Incidents of violence against women are on the rise in India, with one act of sexual harassment being reported every 12 minutes, one rape every 28 minutes and one dowry death every 67 minutes. And these are just the tip of the iceberg, as most cases go unreported. 

Dalits and Minorities in India

According to the Indian census of 2001, the total population was 1.028 billion.

Hindus numbered 827 million or 80.5 %. About 25 per cent, or 24 million, of those Hindus belong to Scheduled Castes and Tribes. About 40 per cent, or 400 million, are "Other Backward Castes”. 15 per cent belonging to the three upper castes. Dominant group of Hindu nationalists come from the three upper castes who constitute about 10 per cent of the total Indian population but controle the civil service and economy. And thus the caste system virtually leaves lower caste Hindus to an oppressed minority.

The proportion of Dalits living under the poverty line has fallen from nearly 50 per cent in 1993-94 to 37 per cent in 1999-2000, according to the National Sample Survey. Dalit households with electricity grew from 2
9 per cent in 1991 to 44 per cent in 2001, according to two Censuses. But caste discrimination did not change. About 80 per cent still live in rural areas where caste discrimination reigns and Dalits live in separate enclaves. Those who challenge power structures — such as by contesting elections in councils — have been threatened or beaten up, a study by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights in New Delhi said. 

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in its Report on the Prevention of Atrocities on Scheduled Castes released in 2002, had said there was "virtually no monitoring of the implementation of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act at any level." The report also quoted a study of 11atrocity-prone districts of Hindutva ruled Gujarat that found that 36 per cent of atrocities cases were not registered under the Atrocities Act. In 84 per cent of the cases where the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was applied, cases were registered under the wrong provisions to conceal the violent nature of the incidents. Charge sheets were framed in only 53 per cent of the cases registered under the Act, and over 22 per cent of cases registered were closed after investigation. According to these figures, over 92 per cent of the cases ended in acquittal.

Every hour two Dalits were assaulted; every day three Dalit women raped, two Dalits murdered, and two Dalit homes torched. Yet the actual reality of crimes against Dalits is much worse than these numbers suggest. Amnesty estimated that only about 5 percent of attacks are registered. 

The prejudice against Muslim is acutely reflected in the political under-representation of Muslims. In India, only half as many, or fewer, Muslims get elected as legislators, as their population share. The proportion is abysmally low for Muslim women.

It is an important issue is how a nation of one billion people like India, is slowly slipping into fascism. Hindutva" (Hindu-ness) and "Hindu Rashtra" (Hindu nation) are the cultural supremacist and political nationalist RSS dogmas and policy guides of Indian Fascists. Their principal appeal is to the upper castes in India's socially debilitating and inhumane caste system, the worst excess of which, untouchability, Gandhi valiantly fought to eradicate.  RSS is the Hindu-supremacist organization that has fueled a rise in anti-Dalit, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian and anti-Sikh violence.  The former ruling  party, the BJP is the political arm of the RSS and helped  fascism to spread across civil, defence and educational steams of the society.  The caste system and the fact that the government machinery is basically controlled by this Hindu-centric group means that  violence against vicitims largely goes unpunished .

About 20 per cent, or 200 million, are religious minorities. Muslims constitutes 138 million or 13.4 per cent, Christians 24 million or 2.3 per cent, Sikhs 19 million or 2 per cent, Buddhists 8 million or 0.8 per cent and Jains 4 million or 0.4 per cent. "Others" numbered 6.6 million or 0.6 per cent. Christians  provided education at all levels to other religious groups without prosyletisation. According to Tahir Mahmoud, an Indian Muslim journalist, “The 2.3 per cent Christians in the Indian population cater to 20 per cent of all primary education in India, 10 per cent of all the literacy and community health care, 25 per cent of all existing care of destitutes and orphans, 30 per cent of all the handicapped, lepers and AIDS patients etc”.

1.38 billion Muslims across India are severely under-represented in government employment, including PSUs. Ironically, West Bengal, a communist ruled state reported 0 (zero) percent of Muslims in higher positions in its PSUs. ( Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee)

Muslims have a disproportionately high representation when it comes to being in prison — in many states, twice or thrice as much as their share of the population.  Data sourced from the Sachar report indicates that despite being educationally and economically backward, Muslims have a better sex ratio than the national average. The sex ratio among Muslims was 986 girls per 1,000 boys in the age group 0-5 years in 1998-99, significantly higher than the ratio of 931 among SCs/STs, 914 among Hindus and 859 among other groups.

Every bearded man is an ISI agent"…"Muslim boys are the first to be picked up by the police when something goes wrong". These are some of the grievances that Muslim bodies took to the Sachar panel. They even said there were more "policemen in Muslim localities than schools, industries, public hospitals and banks". Security personnel enter Muslim homes on the slightest pretext. The report also said that Muslims are forced to live with an "inferiority complex". Muslims are poorly represented in the armed forces, where their proportion is believed to be just 2 percent.

The committee found that this sense of insecurity comes from the fact that there are just 3.2 per cent Muslims in police forces and four per cent in the Indian Police Service. "The lack of adequate Muslim presence in the police force accentuates this problem in almost most Indian states," the report said. Muslim presence is even lower among IAS (three per cent) and Indian Foreign Service (1.8 per cent). Many Muslim women complained that finding a job for veiled women was getting increasingly difficult in the corporate sector. Muslims said their children had problems getting into good educational institutions though most prefer educating their children in general schools than madrasas. The report also said that Muslims, especially the youth, feel alienated because of their poor representation in the bureaucracy and in politics.

Thirty per cent of Muslim-majority villages have no primary schools and believe that the content in schoolbooks is communal. Muslim children who go to madrasas are treated as terrorists.

Education and Literacy in India

The recent UNESCO report gives India minus points (-1.7) in reducing the number of illiterates among adults above the age of 15 years in the country. According to the Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring report, while India had 27,30,66,000 illiterates in 1990, the number marginally reduced to 26,84,26,000 in 2004. This number is the highest in the world. This despite increasing literacy rate from 49.3% in 1990 to 61% in 2004.

India figures along with three other countries — Ethiopia, Nigeria and Pakistan — which account for a significant proportion of the world’s out-of-school children. The report says the children comprise child labour; children who cannot afford school fees; hard-to-reach groups such as those living in small settlements or remote areas where no schooling is available; children of migrant families; children in coastal fishing communities; those with special needs; Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe children; urban deprived children; and children from minority groups (read mostly Muslims).

India also tops in terms of gender disparity in education — for every 100 out-of-school boys, there are 136 girls. The numbers are comparable to Arab states (134), South and West Asia (129), Benin (136). Only Yemen (184) and Iraq (176) are worse than India.

On the EFA development index, the report gives India a score of 0.7. While 90 per cent children get enrolled in primary schools, only 79 per cent study till Class V. Only 71 per cent of these children enroll for lower secondary and 40 per cent for upper secondary. For tertiary education, the percentage enrollment is just 12.

Referring to a survey commissioned by the Government of India in 2005 (Social and Rural Research Institute), the report says a nationwide survey showed that 13.5 million children were out of school. The percentage for the 6-13 age-group was nearly 7 and for the 6-10 age-g
roup, 6.1.

The analysis focuses on results for the 6-13 age group, in line with the practice by the Centre and state governments in India. The highlights are:

• The 7% rate of out-of-school children reflects 6.2% for boys and 7.9% for girls

• The 7.8% rate in rural areas is significantly higher than 4.3% in urban areas

• In urban areas the rates for boys and girls are similar while in rural areas they are 6.8% and 9.1%, respectively

• The variations across social groups were much larger than those across gender and place of residence — 10.0% for Muslims, 9.5% for Scheduled Tribes, 8.2% for Scheduled Castes, 6.9% for Other Backward Castes and 3.7% for the remaining social groups

• Among the states, the rates are highest in Bihar (17%), Jharkhand (10.9%), Assam (8.9%), West Bengal (8.7%), Madhya Pradesh (8.6%), Uttar Pradesh (8.2%) and Rajasthan (6.9%)

• By contrast, in the south, some states appear to have virtually achieved universal schooling for the age-group — Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu record out-of-school rates between 0.5% and 2.1%

• Surprisingly, the number of SC and Muslim boys who are out of school are higher than those for girls. This is not the case for Other Backward Castes or STs

The only positive remark is about the India’s Open Basic Education (OBE) programme of the 1990s, which has targeted neo-literates who have successfully completed literacy and post-literacy programmes. Surprisingly, a survey conducted by Transparency International India (TII)  found Indians paid bribes amounting to Rs 21,068 crore in the 2004. And no one would have guessed it, but the biggest chunk of this money goes to schools till the Class XII level.

“The money was paid for either getting admission or certificates,” said Navin Sarangpani of the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), which carried out the study. The police (crime/traffic) were second in terms of collecting bribe money, accounting for Rs 3,899 crore.

This is not to say that schools are the most corrupt. That honour goes to the police who have been ranked the most corrupt according to a ‘corruption index’ prepared by the CMS. The reason schools receive the biggest chunk of bribe money is that “(the) proportion of citizens interacting with schools is much more than the police or municipalities,” said Sarangpani.

Corruption and Arms Trade

India has been ranked as the worst performer by Transparency International on its global Bribe Payers Index, which is based on the propensity of companies from the world's 30 leading exporting countries in bribing abroad. India has been ranked at the 30th position in the Transparency International 2006 Bribe Payers Index (BPI), with a score of 4.62. A score of 10 indicates a perception of no corruption, while zero means corruption is seen as rampant. India's major weapon supplier, Israel also ranked as one of the most bribing nation, with a score of 6.01. Israel accounted for 0.4% of global trade in 2005.

A 2006 survey by E&Y in emerging markets has revealed that fraud levels in India are considerably higher at 42 per cent than the global levels of 27 per cent.  Someone who is familiar with the Indian social fabric know the age old doctrine of exclusion legitimized and sanctified by the caste supremacy ideology. This upper elite controls the Business and Civil Service structure in India, by culminating "Bribing" as a ‘routine matter’ in India's daily life. Transparency International's BPI Index proves how this dangerous ideology of "self purity and pollution" has extended its wings to the "Cannibalization of Corruption."

Global expenditure on defence has crossed the 1,000 billion US dollar mark and is still rising. Worldwide military spending represented 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2005, or $173 per capita. To India, the spending was $18.50 per capita and but we remained world's 10th largest spender. Arms sales by the 100 top worldwide companies rose 15% in 2004, the latest year for which figures are available. Companies in the United States and Europe accounted for most of the amount. The arms industry had become increasingly concentrated, with the top five companies doubling their share of the top 100 to a combined 44% from 2003. There were 17 major armed conflicts in 2005 in 16 locations, mostly in Asia!  Many of the US based arms industries including Boeing are owned by people with Zionist links.

The Barak deal was one of 15 defence deals that figured in the Tehelka's corruption expose. Under BJP's rule, India became Israeli arms industry's prized market and there were also reports in 2003, of the Israeli defense establishment dispatching "scores of agents" to persuade the Indian armed forces in to buying weapons resulting in large scale bribes among civil servants and politicians. The ideological bond between Zionism and Hindutva made India as the second largest trade partner for Israel in Asia, after China. It is currently working hard with their old "Hindutva bureaucrats" to make India as their "biggest trade partner". Since the advent of Hindutva's grip on the Indian elite castes, every visit by a delegation of Israeli officials either preceded or followed the cementing of ties involving the purchase of weapons, or the training and/or expansion of cooperation between Israeli armaments interests and their Indian counterparts.

In 2005, Israel has achieved a four-fold increase in the bilateral trade with India which stood at $2.4 billion. Business Week reported in 2005 that India became Israel's largest importer of weapons the previous year, accounting for about half of the $3.6 billion worth of weapons exported by that country. Not coincidentally, that year also proved to be the second best recorded year for the Israeli weapons industry, making Israel the 5th largest weapons exporter in the world and accounting for about 10 percent of the world's weapons trade. Obviously the Israeli armaments industry values India as a major new market for its weapons, and as such has much to gain from maintaining and deepening the appetite for arms by the Indian state.

US companies involved in Indo-US civil nuclear deal already indicated their willingness  to participate in India’s $50-billion nuke programme. Indian Navy recently proposed acquisition of several stealth warships worth more than Rs 30,000 crore.

Responding to an International survey jointly promoted by Amnesty International, Oxfam International and International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) , 93 % Indians requested  better control on Arms in to India. An average of 87 percent of all respondents want “strict international controls on where weapons can be exported to”, with 93 percent of people in Brazil, 91 percent in Guatemala, 90 in both Canada and India, 86 percent of people in Britain and 73 percent of South Africans agreeing. “Our survey shows that uncontrolled proliferation of weapons has blighted every corner of the globe, with millions of people living in daily fear of becoming a victim of armed violence,” said Irene Khan, Amnesty International’s Secretary General. (http://www.controlarms.org/ )

When any insurgent or terrorist strikes, the ready governmental answer is: "foreign hands bent upon to destabilizing our social fabric and economy", but  behind the scene arms traders supply the materials to both ends of the conflict.  US and Israel are infamous for their involvement in international conflicts. Weapon industry in these countries are one of the biggest business and has to be dealt with. If the international market does not absorb that weapon production, it’ll become the burden of state to do it.

A fraction of the money that the India spends on defence could make a difference to the lives of millions of people in this country who live in abject poverty and suffer from deprivation of survival needs.

HIV threat 

By classifying India as a “severe epidemic”, a new World Bank report on HIV-AIDS prevalence says we have nearly 60 per cent of Asia’s 1 crore infected AIDS patietns.

The report says that,  just eight states — Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Karnataka and Manipur — account for 70 per cent of all of India’s HIV cases. One of the prime reasons for the rapid spread of HIV infections is homosexuality, according to the authors of the report. Drug usage by injections and prostitution are the other main reasons for India’s high HIV prevalence, the report said.

By the end of 2006, 39.5 million people would be living with HIV/AIDS around the world, 5.7 million of them in India. Within two decades of being first detected in Chennai in 1986, HIV has spread rapidly within India, making it home to the highest number of HIV positive people in the world.
Women, mostly monogamous, account for 38 per cent of those infected, getting the virus from their regular partners. Parent-to-child infection is the leading cause of infection among the 65,000 children under 15 years living with HIV. Only 125,000 people in India know that they have HIV, and just over 48,000 people get free treatment for AIDS under the government programme.

Pollution in India 

India, one of the most polluted countries in the world, which does not even have a standard for many harmful chemicals and gases, and thus no monitoring nor regulation for them. Air pollution monitoring and regulation is primitive, and the world's fourth-largest economy has no standards for some of the most toxic and commonly found air pollutants.  A recent environmental  study found that millions of Indians in cities and villages were exposed to at least 45 dangerous chemicals, including 13 carcinogens, some of which were present at levels 32,000 times higher than globally accepted standard! The chemicals found targeted virtually every system in the human body – eyes, central nervous system, skin and respiratory system, liver, kidneys, blood, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, the report said. India has refused cuts to greenhouse gases imposed by the Kyoto Protocol, saying such a cap would hamper its furious pace of industrialization.

Some interesting findings about Indianness

* 13 per cent of adult Indians still do not recognise the Tricolour
* 18 per cent don't know the name of the country; another 9 per cent give wrong answers
* 27 per cent go blank when you ask them about 15th of August
* 39 per cent don't have the faintest idea of what is 26th January
* the figure goes up to 55 per cent if you accept only 'Republic Day' as the correct answer.

These are some of the shocking findings of the CNN IBN-HT State of the Nation Poll conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) during the Republic Day Celebrations of the year 2006.  The poll was carried out between January 7 and 14 among 15,141 eligible voters spread across 986 villages or urban localities in 230 parliamentary constituencies.
The sample was a true mirror of Indian population: 75 per cent rural respondents, 46 per cent women, 11 per cent Muslims, 18 per cent Dalit and 9 per cent adivasis. Indianness trumps all other identities, while people are proud of their languages and state identities.

Throughout the country, 88 per cent people recognised Gandhi's photograph and named him.
The primacy to nationalism has not made most Indians an aggressive and chauvinist lot. The rulers may have changed their mind, but the Indian people still believe in the Nehruvian foreign policy. On balance, more people want India to resist US hegemony rather than cosy up to the super power. They would not like India to act big brother vis-a-vis its small neighbours and pursue an active policy of friendship with Pakistan.

There is a considerable pride in Kargil victory, but that does not indicate an aggressive nationalism. When asked to name a moment of shame, an overwhelming majority chose the farmers' suicide. Clean drinking water for every Indian is an overwhelming choice as the wish for country's future. Not a bad Republic Day resolution. The good news to us that we, India has defied the contention of doom sayers that say such a deeply-divided country can never survive as a single nation-state. After independence in 1947, India not only stayed in one piece but has emerged as one of the fastest growing countries of the world.


Human Rights of Indians

Overall,  the links between human rights and poverty should be obvious: People whose rights are denied — victims of discrimination or persecution, for example — are more likely to be poor.    Generally they find it harder or impossible to participate in the labour market and have little or no access to basic services and resources. Meanwhile, the poor in many societies cannot enjoy their rights to education, health and housing simply because they cannot afford them. And poverty affects all human rights: for example, low income can prevent people from accessing education — an "economic and social" right — which in turn inhibits their participation in public life — a "civil and political" right — and their ability to influence policies affecting them.

India accounts for 17 percent of the world's population, 36 per cent of the world's poor surviving on less than one US dollar a day live in the country, as do 68 percent of those afflicted with leprosy and 30 percent of people suffering from tuberculosis. India also accounts for 26 percent of the deaths that take place all over the world that could have been prevented with vaccinations during childhood.  India’s subordinate courts have a backlog of over 22 million cases while the 21 high courts and the Supreme Court have 3.5 million and 32,000 pending cases (2006) There were 13 judges for every million people. Merely 7.8% Muslim employees working in Judicial sector of  12 high-Muslim population states surveyed by Sachar Panel.

Governments of India and Kerala or those in a position of authority can, indeed are obliged to, do something about poverty. They have committed to it by overwhelmingly accepting a number of human rights treaties. The social problems of contemporary India are the result of a complex nexus between the factors of exclusion and inclusion that are rooted in the history, values and cultural ethos of the country. The incidence of poverty has certainly come down but not uniformly and the same is true for the spread of primary education and health care. The policies of globalisation and economic liberalisation have undermined the role of larger societal norms as well as the state apparatus that could have countered exclusionary forces keeping social tensions simmering. The realization of human rights – including the fight against poverty — is a duty, not a mere aspiration.

The government should initiate its constitutional responsibility of providing public goods in such crucial areas as education, health, sanitation and housing rather than arms purchase. It should understand that Indian society that is becoming increasingly polarised not just along class lines but also across regions and states. If the gap betwe
en the richest and poorest states were roughly around 1:3 during the 1990s, this gap has now widened to around 1:5. It points  towards the yawning gap between policy prescriptions and implementation of programmes.  It should meant for the poor who have been indiscriminately generalized . The situation has been compounded by rampant corruption and mismanagement of scarce resources.  The economic growth does not necessarily lead to social development and thus fails to alleviate poverty. The current development plans can be a political success but really an economic failure. Despite our 8 to 10 % GDP growth rate, we should n't ignore the fact that there are between 280 million and 300 million people in the country who live in sub-human poverty.

The development strategists should  recognise the need for institutional reform and changes in legal procedures, more significantly it points to imbalances in political power that shape inequities. The costs of injustice, in an increasingly inequitable society, are paid not only by the poor, who are deprived of rights in land, in access to resources and development opportunities, but a growing number who are being marginalised on account of differences of religion, ethnicity and gender. Their demand for social justice itself may have been muted because of systemic deprivation, political subordination or exclusion. But there are limits to such tolerance.

In its last survey in 2002, the National Human Rights Commission found that 74 per cent of the prisoners in the country are under trials.The National Crime Records Bureau in 2003 has more conservative, but no less shocking, estimates of nearly 67 per cent under trials.  According to the government, 135 such persons are still in jail under the draconian, defunct POTA, but human right activists insist that at least 400 persons remain under detention. Amnesty International found that a minimum of 265 persons remain under detention, either without a trial or at pre-trial stage (The number of persons convicted under the act is small, but these convictions pertain to serious and high-profile cases).  In Kerala, from May 2003, 137 under trial prisoners have been denied bail in a single case alone, which is the  Marad revenge killings of May, 2003.  All of this under trials are belongs to Muslim minority community and some of them are severely sick

The complaints from Muslim Youths in Kerala, majority of  whom are waiting to find a Job in Gulf are generally silenced, in Hindutva 's  interests of "Muslim Extremism", even though causing grievous hurt is a criminal offence. Delays in police investigations or falsely implicating innocent persons in litigation are well known ways to deflect justice. So far, the response of the Ministry of Home Affairs to the general discontent with law enforcement from dalits, tribals and  minorities  has been woefully inadequate. Changes in laws, do not appear to have brought about any justifiable improvement.  Are we to assume that a change of clothes is all it takes to prevent the brutality which many face, when for example, they are arrested without warrant  or remand ? Many of these problems are based on policies of segregation that have not been addressed by the  policies followed by successive governments.

Anti-Muslim discrimination has visibly increased as a result of the  India government's ''counter-terrorism'' strategy, which is largely controlled by the inheritance of Hindutva groups in India's power corridors. This explains the large number of jailed Muslim awaiting trial. The plain, bitter truth is that Muslims have long been the target of systematic exclusion and discrimination by hindutva fascists. 

CHRO demands the Government of India and Kerala to accept a new and viable strategy to alleviate poverty and  uphold human rights. There should be an official mechanism in our police stations and prisons  to ensure that the governments maintain the highest human rights standards in order that the dignity and lives of our people are respected and their rights protected.


Dr. Abdul Salam,

Secretary General

CHRO ( Confederation of Human Rights Organizations, Kerala)



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