Skip to main content

Ask Modi to "actively" promote rights of minorities and "speak out" against violence of Hindu extremist groups

Dutch PM Rutte
Counterview Desk
Open letter by Gerard Oonk, director, India Committee of the Netherlands, to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaches the country on his first official visit on June 27:
On June 27, Prime Minister Modi of India will pay his first official visit to the Netherlands. Reasons for this visit are the 70 years diplomatic relations between India and the Netherlands and the fact that the Netherlands is one of the largest investors in India.

Silent support for violence of hindu extremists
The close Dutch relationship with India is a good reason to address the deteriorating human rights situation in India during the discussion with the Indian Prime Minister. Under Modi's hindu-nationalist government, the marginalization of minority groups such as Dalits (‘untouchables’), Christians and Muslims has increased significantly. Especially these groups, together more than a third of the Indian population, are nowadays regularly victims of extremist Hindu groups who respond by violence to every alleged abuse of cows. 
The government of India largely ignores this violence. In April of this year, Human Rights Watch also expressed her concern about this. In that month, ‘cow protectors’ killed a 55-year-old man who was on his way with his cattle truck.
We urge you to ask Prime Minister Modi to actively promote the rights of minorities and to speak out against the violence of the Hindu extremist groups.
Freedom of expression heavily under pressure
India is known as a country with a great diversity of civil society organizations that are e.g. addressing rights violations and appeal to the government to act against them. However, the freedom of critical human rights and environmental organizations – which are supposed to be crucial for a democracy - is heavily under pressure. 
The UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Association stated last year that the restrictions imposed by the Indian government on getting foreign funding "might disproportionately affect those organizations engaged in critical human rights work, those which address issues of government accountability and good governance, or represent vulnerable and minority populations or views."
Recently, for example, Dalit organization Navsarjan was unable to receive money from foreign donors. Navsarjan carries out development programs for Dalits and supports Dalits to stand up for their rights.
Refusal of visa hampers cooperation for human rights
Also for Dutch civil society organizations it becomes increasingly difficult to cooperate with Indian human rights organizations and to support their work. Another way to frustrate this cooperation is to refuse visas for employees of Dutch organizations, including journalists. For example, the person signing this open letter has been refused a visa for India for almost 15 years.
In response to parliamentary questions, Minister Koenders of Foreign Affairs announced in February that the Netherlands will exert itself to "pay attention to this situation [the various obstacles for Indian and Dutch civil society] and will continue to do so". The visit of your colleague Modi is a unique opportunity to emphatically discuss this issue again and to make it a point of permanent attention in the bilateral and multilateral relations with India.
Violations of labour rights by Dutch companies
With his program Make in India, Modi wants to put India on the map as an economic superpower. Success stories about economic growth are manifold. The downside of it gets much less attention. According to the Dutch policy on international corporate social responsibility, doing business in a country like India is not free of obligations, but must comply with the OECD Guidelines for responsible business conduct. 
As often confirmed by your government, there are often substantial, serious violations of labour rights in the supply chains of Dutch and other companies that are operating in India. For example, girls work as modern slaves on cotton fields and in spinning mills for products that international companies sell on the Dutch market. Also in for example vegetable seed production, mining and processing of natural stone and the production of leather products, Dutch companies are involved in systemic rights abuses.
Actively together against child labour, exploitation and modern slavery
Currently, at the initiative of Minister Ploumen, Dutch civil society organizations, companies, trade unions ánd the Dutch government are working together on solutions in various sector agreements [called covenants], including in the textile sector. But to address the labour and human rights problems in Indian supply chains of Dutch companies, engagement of the Indian government is indispensable.
In line with her policy, the Dutch government should take the opportunity of this state visit to do the maximum within her capacity to get the support of the Indian government to address child labour, modern slavery, exploitation and other abuses in the chains of Dutch companies.

Comments

TRENDING

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.