INDIA AND UNITED NATIONS
In India the concept of human rights emphasizing pivotal position of individual citizen stretches back to the first millennia. Human rights have been an inherent component of various philosophies that have flourished in India. The leaders of the Indian National Movement stressed the primacy of human rights in the future constitutional set-up. The Indian Constitution, as a result, stands as one of the most comprehensive and self-contained documents on human rights.
India took active part in drafting of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Dr (Mrs). Hansa Mehta, a Gandhian political activist and social worker who led the Indian delegation, had made important contributions in drafting of the Declaration, especially highlighting the need for reflecting gender equality. India is fully committed to the rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration. India is a signatory to the six core human rights covenants, and also the two Optional Protocols to the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
India has been advocating a holistic and integrated approach that gives equal emphasis to all human rights, based on their inter-dependence, inter-relatedness, indivisibility and universality, and reinforces the inter-relationship between democracy, development, human rights and international cooperation for development.
India had played an active role as member of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) since its creation in 1947. India was elected in 2006 as a member of the newly established Human Rights Council (HRC), which replaced the CHR, by securing the highest number of votes among the contested seats. India was re-elected again as a member in 2007 by securing the highest votes by polling 185 votes out of 190 votes cast. India attaches great importance to the Human Rights Council and is committed to make the Council a strong, effective and efficient body capable of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.
The National Commission for Human Rights (NHRC), established in India in 1993, serves as an independent and autonomous body for protection of human rights in the country. The Commission is now very much part of the life of the nation and, increasingly, of consequence to the quality of its governance. Awareness of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and included in the international instruments to which India is a State party, has increased dramatically in the country.
The enactment by the Indian Parliament in August, 2005 of a Rural Employment Guarantee Act, providing for 100 days of assured employment in a year to every rural household, is a step in the direction of ensuring justiciability of economic and social rights. The Right to Information Act passed by the Indian Parliament in 2005 is a testimony to India’s commitment for providing access to information to the citizens.
India is fully committed to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. India adopted a rights-based approach to promoting equality of women and evolved a multifaceted strategy aimed at their empowerment through awareness-raising, political participation, economic independence, education, health, and legal standards. The objective is to enable women to overcome disadvantages that they face and to enable them to play an effective and equal role in society. Among the most important of these measures include reservation of one-third seats in local and village-level bodies, and formulation of National Policy for the Empowerment of Women in 2001, provision for immediate and emergency relief to women in situations of domestic violence, amendment to the Hindu Succession Act to give daughters and widows equal right in ancestral property including agricultural land, dowry prohibition and prevention of immoral trafficking.
India adopted a National Charter for Children in 2003 to reiterate its commitment to the cause of the child in order to see that no child remains hungry, illiterate or sick. The right to free and compulsory education for all children, in the age group of 6 to 14 years, has been made a fundamental right in 2002 by an amendment to the Constitution. India has a proactive stand on the issue of child protection and in creating a protective environment for children. Towards this end, India has undertaken several initiatives, notably a National Commission for Protection of Child’s Rights has been set up in February 2007 to provide speedy trial of offence against children or of violation of child’s rights, thus ensuring effective implementation of laws and programmes relating to children. Eradication of child labour in all occupations and industries is one of the most important priorities of the Government of India. The National Human Rights Commission and the civil society, including non-Governmental organisations, have been supplementing Government’s efforts in eradication of child labour in the country.
The rights of vulnerable groups have received special mention in India ever since independence and the Constitution itself contains extensive provisions for the promotion and protection of the rights of all minorities, including some special groups of people unique to Indian society known as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. These measures have been further strengthened through a recent amendment of the Constitution granting the Scheduled Tribes local self-government and a high degree of autonomy in the management of their day-to-day affairs, control over natural resources, and other development activities in the areas where they live. Independent institutions such as National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and National Commission for Minorities are effectively promoting and protecting the rights of these vulnerable groups. Further, National Minorities Development and Financial Corporation and National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC) have been set up to promote economic and development activities of minorities and Other Backward Classes.
India became seventh country to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. India had participated actively in the deliberations of the Ad Hoc Committee of the UN General Assembly on finalisation of a Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities. The enactment in India of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act in 1995 marked a significant step towards providing equal opportunities for people with disabilities and their full participation in the nation building. The Government had also set up National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities in 2001 and a National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation in 1997 to promote economic development activities, including self-employment programmes, for the benefit of persons with disabilities.
INDIA'S POSITION ON: