India is willing to discuss human rights issues on the basis of “equality and partnership” with the US ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit here next week, but will not accept any kind of ‘judgemental pronouncements’ in this regard, Indian officials said.
The message has quietly and firmly been conveyed to the US with some of the American Senators raising their voice ahead of Modi’s visit next week.
In recent communications with the Obama Administration and also with lawmakers, senior Indian officials have acknowledged that like any society, everything is not perfect in India and there are issues of social justice and human rights within the country.
“Of course, we have problems in India,” an official familiar with the conversation said, but at the same time quickly pointed out that there exists an equally strong voice against any such injustices, be it violation of human rights or religious freedom or freedom of expression.
Indian officials, were quick to point out some of the recent developments inside the US itself.
“All societies have problems,” officials said, adding that India is willing to have discussion with the US “on the basis of equality and partnership” but is not willing to accept any kind of ‘judgemental pronouncement’ in this regard from the US.
In New Delhi yesterday, key American Senator Ben Cardin had sharply criticised India on alleged human rights violations, extra-judicial killings and religious intolerance, saying these were “national challenges” the country faces.
At a Congressional hearing last month, a senior Obama Administration official had told Senators that India itself has a vibrant civil society who are themselves fighting for these causes.
“India is also an extraordinarily transparent democracy in that the issues that we raise are not only issues that we are raising, but they are grappling with these issues in the context of their own democracy and debate,” Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal had said in response to a question during a hearing on India organised by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“And that what I believe the administration seeks to do in these engagements is to find the places where our engagement on these issues can have the kind of results and actions, in a constructive way, that we would like to see,” Biswal had said indicating that the Obama Administration agrees to the viewpoint of the Modi government that such issues can only be discussed on the basis on equality and partnership, wherein the two countries can learn from their best practices.