World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


INDIA: Fear over fundamentalism real but misdirected

May 4, 2014

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

INDIA: Fear over fundamentalism real but misdirected

India faces the threat of being won over by religious fundamentalists; so say many experts, commenting in light of the on-going elections. Nothing could be more unfortunate for India, which has stood tall and contained regressive radicals for six decades. This is no mean task, given how many neighbours have fallen prey to homegrown rogues like a houses of cards.

Despite being real, the fears, however, are misplaced. Though the spectre of fundamentalism that looms over the country presents a grave danger, graver still is the absence of strong and independent institutions that can halt the march. Forget about being a dictatorship, India does not even follow a Presidential system, which can bestow immense power on the executive.

Then why should Indians be worried about a particular individual coming to power? All the checks and balances that define a democracy are firmly in a place? So what if the individual has a proven track record of failing to prevent a pogrom? Or, as per two dominant narratives of the Gujarat riots, being complicit in what rendered thousands in the minority community dead and far more homeless?

The answer is simple.

This so-called democracy should be worried, because the checks and balances are not in place. In fact, they have never been in place.

Indians are right to worry because evidence from the past proves the possibility of these institutions being taken for a ride by an individual or political outfit. This is what happened in Delhi in 1984, when thousands of Sikhs were massacred under the watchful eyes of the police. This is exactly what occurred in Punjab when, consequently, the police and security agencies assassinated countless innocent men and women using extrajudicial means. And, this is also what happened earlier in Marichjhapi, West Bengal, and in Nellie, Assam, and in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, to name a few.

What is common to these incidents is that the police were silent, sometimes even complicit, in the murders of Indian citizens, in order to placate or follow the instructions of political bosses. The failure of criminal justice system let nearly all the offenders go scot-free.

This is the real threat.

The difference with fundamentalists in power will be that the attacks – on the back of a supine and corrupt criminal justice system – will be more vicious and murderous.

This so-called democracy should be worried, as it is not merely a matter of mass killings or riots. Institutions in India have categorically failed to contain all other kinds of criminality, including corruption. On the contrary, these institutions have often delivered whistle-blowers to the criminals instead of protecting them; Satyendra Dubey and Shanmughan Manjunath are but two examples.

Indians should be worried because their judiciary, the final check against criminal excesses of the executive, has failed to serve its mandate as well. The lower judiciary, in fact, has often been found to be hand in glove with the corrupt politico-criminal nexus. The higher judiciary, apart from its corruption, has failed to punish violators in time, and has thus denied not only redress, but also deterrence.

It is in this context that Indians must get their act together and radically reform their institutions; the criminal justice system must be reformed first. Holding elections regularly is good but not enough for sustaining democracy. Democracy can only be sustained by functional institutions, which respond to the grievances of citizens.

Would fundamentalist forces not have knocked so boldly on the door to power had the criminals in their ranks been prosecuted and punished in time?

For six decades, India has failed to build institutions that can protect its citizens, and protect democracy itself, and, if citizens do not act soon, the chance might go for good.

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Visit our new website with more features at www.humanrights.asia.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

'Very Concerned' After Court Ruling: UNHRC On Transfer Of 267 People From Australia To Nauru

Most of these people were reportedly brought to Australia from Nauru to receive medical treatment and are in a fragile physical and mental state. The group includes more than 12 women and at least one child who have allegedly suffered sexual assault or harassment while in Nauru. The group also includes 37 children born in Australia. More>>

ALSO:

Sanctions To Be Lifted: NZ Welcomes Implementation Of Iran Nuclear Deal

Duty Minister Nikki Kaye has welcomed the next stage in the historic nuclear deal between Iran, the Five Permanent (P5) members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany... “New Zealand has now started the domestic process for removing the UN sanctions." More>>

ALSO:

Pre-Davos Reports: 62 People Own Same Wealth As Half The World

Runaway inequality has created a world where 62 people own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population – a figure that has fallen from 388 just five years ago, according to an Oxfam report published today ahead of the annual gathering of the world’s financial and political elites in Davos.. More>>

ALSO:

Jakarta: UN Secretary-General On Attacks

The Secretary-General condemns the bombings and gun attacks in Jakarta today... there is absolutely no justification for such acts of terrorism. He hopes the perpetrators of today's attacks will be swiftly brought to justice. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: America, The Gated

How, in a global metropolis like New York, do you write about immigration as a problem to be solved? And yet immigration is a hot button issue among those fighting to break away from the unruly clump of starters in the race for Republican nominee. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news