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Human Rights Issues at the Sixth Regular Session of the Organization of American States General Assembly. August 10, 1976. (Hearing before the Subcommittee on International Organizations.)
Human Rights in the Philippines: Report by Amnesty International. September 15, 1976.2 (Hearing before the Subcommittee on International Organizations.) Religious Persecution in the South Union. June 24 and 30, 1976.2 (Joint hearings by the Subcommittee on International Political and Military Affairs and the Subcommittee on International Organizations.)
1 Document only available from Government Printing Office.
2 Document available from Government Printing Office, or from International Relations Committee.
* Document available from the International Relations Committee only.
HUMAN RIGHTS IN INDIA
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 1976
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 2: 14 p.m. in room 2255, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Donald M. Fraser (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. FRASER. Today the Subcommittee on International Organizations begins a series of hearings on the human rights situation in India.
Since the attainment of independence in 1947, India has been widely respected for its defense of human rights in the face of overwhelming economic and social challenges. On June 26, 1975, the President of India proclaimed a national emergency on the grounds that the security of India was threatened by internal disturbance. Essential human rights have been curtailed and many persons, including members of the Indian Parliament, have been detailed without being tried or having charges placed against them. Many persons have been detained since the emergency was declared a year ago.
The demise of democratic freedoms in India has serious implications beyond the situation in India itself. India has been one of the few developing countries with a democratic form of government. Does the situation in India suggest that traditional civil rights and civil liberties are unworkable in developing societies? These are questions which the subcommittee intends to explore at these hearings.
Today's witnesses are Dr. Homer A. Jack, Secretary General of the World Conference of Religion for Peace, and Prof. Ainslee Embree. Dr. Jack has had a special interest in India since its preindependence period. Professor Embree is associate dean of the International Affairs of Columbia University and a specialist in Indian affairs.
I welcome both our witnesses today, and, Dr. Jack, perhaps we will begin with you.
STATEMENT OF DR. HOMER A. JACK, SECRETARY GENERAL,
Mr. JACK. Mr. Chairman, I will give much of my prepared address, but since it is a little bit long, I will skip over some parts, and I will indicate where I skip.
Mr. FRASER. We will have your entire statement put in the record.
Mr. JACK. I have been involved with India and Indian-American relations for almost 35 years. I was born here in the United States, but I have come to know India better than any country other than my own. Despite this long, admittedly subjective, tie with India, I am today prepared to criticize the violations of human rights in India today.
I must give my bona fides, immodestly at some length at the onset of this testimony, only because the Government of India is especially critical these days of Americans who dare question Indian policy. I have criticized the Government of the United States, and on many counts including human rights, so I hope that I may be allowed to criticize the Government of India.
My long involvement with India began in 1942 when as a theological student at the University of Chicago I participated in the worldwide "Quit India" day and protested in front of the British Consulate in Chicago. Gandhi and Nehru were arrested in India; some of us only received publicity in the Chicago Tribune. I continued association with J.J. Singh, Roger Baldwin, and others in the India League of America until India gained its freedom in 1947. During the 1950's I was a friend of Indian Ambassador G. L. Mehta, in the period when U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was especially cool toward India. I was a Chicago representative of Pearl Buck's campaign to send American wheat to India to prevent famine. During the 1950's I was a special correspondent for "The Hindustan Times" and wrote articles from Washington, the United Nations, and Africa.
I have visited India a dozen times, first in 1955. I had discussions with Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru on several occasions, not only in India, but in Indonesia at the Bandung Conference; Yugoslavia, at the first summit of non-aligned States, and the United States. I was a close friend of Prof. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan-the scholar of comparative religion-when this scholar-statesman was Vice President of India and during his two terms as President. I also dealt with, more than in an honorific way, with two other Indian Presidents, Mr. Rajendra Prasad and Dr. Zakir Husain.
Although I never met Mohandas Gandhi, I was a friend of two of his sons-Devadas and Manilal-and spent several weeks with the latter in South Africa at the ashram founded by his father. Within the past year I visited both the daughter-in-law of Gandhi, living in Madras, and one of Gandhi's grandchildren, living in Bombay. I have studied the life and teachings of Gandhi and have edited two volumes: The Wit and Wisdom of Gandhi, Beacon Press, 1951; and The Gandhi Reader, Indiana University Press, 1956. I have long been associated with the Gandhi Peace Foundation and was cosecretary of its International Interreligious Symposium on Peace in 1968 at New Delhi. I write frequently for the foundation's quarterly, Gandhi Marg, the latest article being in the January 1976 issue on the U.N. debate on racism and Zionism-probably one of the few articles critical of this Arab action printed in India.
I have known and worked with several of the other architects of independent India. I was a friend of C. R.-Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, the first Governor General of India-and helped his international deputation to prevent atomic war. Also I worked with J. P.— Jayaprakash Narayan, the American-educated Gandhian-cum-demo
cratic-Marxist-especially in his effort to inform world public opinion about massacre in East Pakistan and to advocate the independence of Bangladesh. I saw J. P. at the zenith of his career at Patna in March 1975 and on his sickbed at Bombay last January.
I last visited India for a short period in December 1975 and January of this year, after the emergency was declared. Finally, I am acting chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Human Rights in India, with headquarters in New York City. Beyond my interests in India, I am a Unitarian Universalist clergyman and, since 1970, have been Secretary General of the World Conference on Religion and Peace, an international nongovernmental organization in a consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. However, I give this testimony in my personal capacity.
During this brief oral testimony on human rights in India, I would like to attempt to answer five questions. And the first question is to what degree have human rights in India-called fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution-eroded since the emergency was declared on June 26-1 year ago Saturday?
Mr. Chairman, when I returned from India in January, I wrote an extensive memorandum on this topic which, somewhat updated, I would like to place in the record of these hearings as exhibit 1.1 Let me outline this material very briefly. I believe, Mr. Chairman, you have a copy of this exhibit 1.
The declaration of the emergency by the President of India on June 26, 1975, was preceeded by events of several years, and I present a chronology in section 1 of the exhibit. The most recent date is June 16-when the Government of India extended for 1 year its right to hold political prisoners without trial or formal charges. The emergency decree itself was all very legal, and I discuss that at some length in section 2. However, the emergency cannot be separated from Mrs. Indira Gandhi's own emergency, her conviction on June 12, 1975, of two charges under the Indian election laws, and I discuss this situation in section 3. There are some parallels between the predicament of Richard Nixon and Indira Gandhi. Both were involved with minor infringements of the law which symbolized their far greater misunderstanding of the essence of their respective political traditions. Both Nixon and Gandhi sadly identified-almost using the same accents their personal future with that of their nation. However, Mrs. Gandhi was a far better politician in her ability to survive; or, perceived in another manner, the American people were far more jealous of their prerogatives and far less able to be manipulated than the Indian people.
A week after the emergency was declared, on July 1, 1975, Mrs. Gandhi promulgated her 20-point economic program, and I give the outline of that in section 4. The emergency, and its aftermath, is a complex political phenomena for India and it cannot be regarded in simplistic terms. Some of its effects, including that of the 20-point program, were positive. I can only list some of the positive aspects: more discipline, less corruption including fewer economic offenses, less inflation, and lower prices. I discuss these at some length in section 5 of appendix 1. I would warn, however, that the discipline is external,
1 See exhibits in appendix 1, p. 177.
based on fear, noc internal, that corruption continues but may be more expensive, and that what economic indices are rising are the result of many factors, including good weather, and thus it is difficult to determine how much is due to the emergency.
I turn now to the legal erosion of fundamental rights. In section 6 I provide a list of some of the legal measures taken to whittle away human rights. In section 7 I discuss the problem of political prisoners and make a conservative estimate of at least 50,000. One should not be conservative, however, in reflecting evidences of torture, and later I will put into the record of this hearing several documents in this regard. In section 8 I discuss press censorship. In section 9 I discuss the postponement of national elections earlier this year and other problems facing the Indian Parliament. In section 10 I discuss surveillance and fear which is pervasive in India today. In section 11, I discuss the lessening of the rights of workers. The rest of the paper deals principally with the opposition and other efforts to oppose the growing totalitarianism. Appendix A contains a discussion on "Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution." Efforts are continuing to amend the Constitution, but perhaps not as drastically in its human rights provisions as originally feared.
Mr. Chairman, this is all that I will discuss about the anatomy of the situation in India today unless it is your pleasure now for me to go into greater detail in this exhibit 1, but this is for the record as far as I am concerned. Should I go on?
Mr. FRASER. I am not sure I understand what you are proposing? Mr. JACK. I tried very quickly to put into the record this exhibit 1, which gives the situation in India.
Mr. FRASER. We will incorporate all of exhibit 1 in the record.
Mr. JACK. Now I will be discussing other questions relating to this in terms of American policy.
I turn now to the second question, which was asked specifically by the chairman of this subcommittee in a letter inviting me to this hearing. To what extent has the emergency been necessary or desirable in terms of bringing about social and economic reforms? Mrs. Gandhi was in power for almost 10 years before the emergency was declared. After the 1971 war with Pakistan, and especially from 1972 onward, she had the good will of the Indian people and of much of the world. She possessed large political majorities. Yet the inertia and the corruption of the ruling Congress Party, under the undisputed leadership of Mrs. Gandhi, led to the all-party movement of J. P. Narayan and others in 1974 and 1975 to get India moving. Whatever prevented Mrs. Gandhi's leadership in social and economic reform was not due to any great interference with existing government programs on the part of the Indian people through the use or abuse of their civil liberties. Her leadership was weak; the corruption was great.
While Mrs. Gandhi and her government have leaned on any excuse to explain the emergency, they have most often perhaps used the rationale of needing stability. They argue that the country was falling apart and such Draconian measures as the emergency were needed to keep India together. India was falling apart, admittedly, but not because of opposition to any social and economic reforms initiated by