Aarti Dhar

Its performance was reviewed in Geneva last week

Over 50 per cent of Indian children dropped out of school before they turned 14

Employment guarantee scheme did not reach those who needed it the most

NEW DELHI: A United Nations committee has described India’s performance as “poor” and asked it to “try harder” in its progress towards realising rights including health, housing, food, water, education, work, social security and gender equality.

India’s performance was reviewed after a gap of 17 years by the U.N. International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in Geneva last week. India’s 13-member official delegation reportedly faced harsh questioning. “Progress on all social fronts was deemed unsatisfactory,” according to members of a host of civil society groups who were in Geneva to witness the review.

According to Babu Mathew of ActionAid everyone appreciated India’s Constitutional framework, its laws and policies. But when it came to implementation, there were no satisfactory answers.

The gap between the goal of education for all and the actual situation was cited as an example. It was pointed out that more than 50 per cent of Indian children dropped out of school before they turned 14. Employment guarantee scheme did not reach those who needed it the most.

The delegation was grilled about the status of dalits, tribals and Muslims. “While admitting that these groups were excluded from India’s economic growth story, the proposed solution of more growth of the same model was unconvincing,” Mr. Mathew said.

The government delegation’s argument that rights were being realised progressively were not acceptable to the Committee which insisted that there were immediate obligations to realise certain rights such as food, housing, health and education.

Agrarian crisis leading to suicide by farmers, large scale evictions in rural and urban areas, state-sponsored violence and social discrimination were some of the issues highlighted.

There was also concern about violation of rights of women and girls, declining sex ratio, high maternal mortality, growing violence against women and discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS.

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