The Geneva Council, expresses deep concern over the current state of affairs in India. As the world’s largest population of young people, with a rapidly growing economy and a diverse democracy, India’s current challenges warrant international attention and concerted efforts to address the pressing issues.
In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the crackdown on dissent and civil society, and the rise of communal violence and discrimination against minorities, the Geneva Council notes with alarm the deterioration of the rule of law, democracy, and human rights in India.
The European Union (EU), India’s largest trading partner and a strategic ally, has also expressed similar apprehensions over these issues. The Geneva Council supports the EU’s efforts to raise concerns about human rights violations and the erosion of democratic principles in India during their scheduled human rights dialogue. The postponement of this dialogue, without an official reason, underscores the gravity of the situation and raises questions about India’s commitment to addressing these pressing matters.
Furthermore, the Geneva Council stands in solidarity with the EU’s objections to India’s protectionist measures, which have adversely affected EU exports and investments in India. These measures, including high tariffs, non-tariff barriers, subsidies, and local content requirements, seem inconsistent with India’s commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and impede the prospects of a fair and rule-based multilateral trading system.
The ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the EU and India are of great significance for both parties, as well as the global economic landscape. However, the stalled negotiations due to disagreements on market access, regulatory standards, labor rights, environmental protection, and human rights clauses present significant challenges. The Geneva Council supports the EU’s insistence on including provisions in the FTA to protect human rights, uphold democracy, and address climate change and social development.
The Geneva Council encourages both the EU and India to find common ground and resume FTA talks in the spirit of constructive dialogue. As India seeks to become a global player and a key partner in the green and digital transition, it must recognize the imperative of upholding human rights, democratic principles, and international norms.
India’s progress in economic growth, social development, and technological innovation is commendable, but it is equally crucial to address the pressing issues of human rights violations, social unrest, and trade disputes. The Geneva Council believes that India’s future as a global actor and a partner of the European Union will be shaped by how it addresses these challenges.
The Geneva Council calls on India to prioritize its democratic principles, respect the rule of law, and engage in open dialogue to address concerns over human rights violations. The EU and other international stakeholders must continue to uphold their standards and values while finding constructive ways to engage with India on these crucial matters.