External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his American counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, discussed human rights during their bilateral meeting on Tuesday.
The two sides spoke of their commitment to further democracy, governance and human rights, Mr. Jaishankar said. He said each country approached these issues differently.
“Each country approaches the set of issues from their history, tradition and societal context. Our yardstick for judgment are the integrity of the democratic processes, the respect and credibility that they command with the people, and the non-discriminatory delivery of public goods and services,” the Minister said at a joint press availability at the State Department.
“India does not believe that the efficacy or indeed the quality of democracy should be decided by vote banks,” Mr Jaishankar said, adding that the two sides looked forward to a “healthy exchange” of views.
Mr Jaishankar had told The Hindu in April this year at a press conference following the India-U.S. 2+2 Ministers meeting in Washington DC that people were entitled to have their views on India but that India was equally entitled to views on their views and the “lobbies” and “vote banks” driving those views. Presumably he was referring to some U.S. Members of Congress voicing concerns over human rights in India and pressing the Biden administration on the issue.
Mr. Blinken, in his remarks which preceded Mr. Jaishankar’s on Tuesday, said that both countries were striving to form “ a more perfect union”. “This is a project for both of us,” he said. “And we must continue to hold ourselves — both of us, as well as our fellow democracies — to our core values, including respect for universal human rights, like freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression, which makes our democracies stronger.”
The human rights comments were a part of discussions on a range of topics, which Mr. Blinken characterised as the two countries talking about how they could advance shared security, economic and geopolitical goals.