Agrarian crises, part of issues in “shadow reports” submitted to U.N. panel

Aarti Dhar

Parallel reports supplement and counter information provided by the government

State-sponsored violence and social discrimination are some of the issues highlighted

“Women facing wide-scale violation of economic, social and cultural rights”

NEW DELHI: Agrarian crises leading to suicides by farmers, large-scale evictions in rural and urban areas, state-sponsored violence and social discrimination are some of the issues highlighted in the “shadow reports” submitted to the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) committee that will review India’s record 17 years after its ratification by the country.

The “shadow reports,” prepared by over 350 civil society organisations and people’s movements from across the country, are parallel reports that supplement and counter information provided by the government.

Large-scale evictions

The review comes at a juncture when the current model of economic growth is emerging as a serious threat to lives and livelihood of the poor in the country. The “shadow reports” point out that the agrarian crisis had led to farmers’ suicides, declining farm produce and rising food prices. Large-scale evictions in rural and urban areas are accelerated by urban renewal with Special Economic Zones causing forced land acquisition.

Rising State impunity and State-sponsored violence with regard to movements such as the Salwa Judum and arbitrary detentions and human rights violations by the corporate sector are other issues that find mention in the alternative report.

Declining sex ratio

The “shadow report” says that women are facing wide-scale violation of economic, social and cultural rights. Four of the most worrying trends are declining sex ratio, high maternal mortality, discrimination against women living with HIV/AIDS and growing violence against women, particularly in militancy-hit states.

Denial of basic services such as water and electricity to the majority and continued discrimination against religious minorities, Dalits, persons with disabilities and people living with HIV/AIDS, prevailing inhuman practice of manual scavenging and “ghettoisation” of Muslims, resulting in social and economic insecurity, and breakdown of traditional occupations are among the major issues raised in the report.

Independent experts, who make up the ICESCR Committee, will draft its outcome on the basis of the official report and additional submissions from civil society organisations, which will be a “report card” in the form of Concluding Observations.

Civil societies will use the outcome to press India to take concrete actions to improve its record of human rights.

Some of the civil society groups that have prepared the reports are the Housing and Land Rights Network, Action Aid, Asian Human Rights Centre and the National Commission for Dalit Human Rights.

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