"As societies build walls of separation between communities,
ICAAD works to remove each brick to illuminate our common humanity"

UPR: India, 27th Session, 2017

Executive Summary

Through their collective community monitoring project, End Maternal Mortality Now – initiated to bring down the rate of maternal deaths in Assam, India – ICAAD, Nazdeek, and PAJHRA can confirm that India still faces serious problems in regard to the violation of women’s right to nondiscrimination and right to life as protected under the Indian Constitution (Articles 14, 15, & 21), and international instruments including Article 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and Article 12 and 14 of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.[1] India still has much to do to fulfill its obligations under the multiple UPR recommendations regarding maternal and infant health that India supported during the last UPR cycle. The current condition of public health services, further elaborated in the report, underscore the need to adopt a national legislation on the right to health.

This submission brings to light labor rights violations of tea plantation workers in Assam, with recommendations to meet the statutory minimum wage and provide safe & healthy working and living conditions in keeping with its legal obligations. Recommendations on housing seek to address the large scale of violations taking place in the absence of a national legislation on the right to adequate housing, with India’s urban poor being victims of forced evictions and inequitable rehabilitation.

Furthermore, since its last UPR review, India has still not ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol.[2] The practice of torture of civilians by police in custody continues unabated, and a case filed in the United States shows that despite being a signatory to the Convention against Torture, India failed to uphold diplomatic assurances not to torture an individual who was extradited from the United States, in violation of international law. During its prior UPR, India previously supported recommendations to ratify the Convention, but has made no progress in doing so.

[1] ISIF Asia 2015, Project Factsheet Information, isifasia_grants_grants2014_technicalreport_nazdeek_vfinal, p.5.

[2] United Nations 2012, Human Rights Council, Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Thirteenth session, India, A/HRC/WG.6/13/IND/1, p.7, viewed 19 September 2016, <https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G12/116/85/PDF/G1211685.pdf?OpenElement>.


This Civil Rights and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’d like to challenge you to reflect on how fear may have influenced your opinions, especially of others, and to take a step towards the courage to overcome those fears. Why the focus on fear you might ask?

Famed marketer and author Simon Sinek in his book “Start with Why” outlines six typical manipulations used in sales and marketing, one of which is the use of fear. On fear, Sinek says, “When fear is being employed, facts are incidental. Deeply seated in our biological drive to survive, that emotion cannot be quickly wiped away with facts and figures.”

In the current political atmosphere, in the U.S. and around the globe, fear is often used by politicians and campaigners to polarize debates and to demonize marginalized communities, using them as scapegoats for the real economic, social, and political challenges that societies face.

Martin Luther King, Jr. understood how important fear is, so much so that he gave a sermon on it named “Antidotes for Fear.” It’s worth reading in its entirety, especially because it recognizes the importance, necessity, and creativity of fear (kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/draft-chapter-xiv-mastery-fear-or-antidotes-fear). However, particularly pertinent section was highlighted by King’s wife Coretta Scott King in her book “My life with Martin Luther King, Jr”:

“First Martin spoke of the many kinds of fear that troubled men and women in this period of change and "calamitous uncertainty"— fear of illness or economic disaster, fear of personal inadequacy in our highly competitive society. More terrible was the fear of death, even racial annihilation, in this atomic age, when the whole world teetered on "a balance of terror . . . fearful lest some diplomatic faux pas ignite a frightful holocaust."

"Some fears are normal and necessary," he said, like the fear of snakes in a jungle, but when they become neurotic and unchecked, they paralyze the will and reduce a man to apathy or despair. He quoted Emerson, who wrote, "He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear."

How, then, to overcome fear? First, Martin said, "We must un-flinchingly face our fears . . . this confrontation will, to some measure, grant us power. . . . "Second, we can master fear through one of the supreme virtues known to man— courage . . . courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.”"

MLK Coretta Scott King Simon Sinek
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