Imagini ale paginilor

According to blueprints and drafts of additional constitutional amendments, the judiciary would be virtually subordinated to the executive. Vast power would be concentrated in the hands of the executive. Moreover, basic human rights enshrined in the Constitution of India as "Fundamental Rights" would be even further curtailed and made non-justifiable, and the executive would be empowered to ban opposition parties.

Once habeas corpus has been abridged, and secret police surveillance, phone tapping and similar repressive actions become commonplace, it is a small step to mistreatment and torture of "detainees" and prisoners. I sadly report that the step has been taken in Gandhi's India.

During a trip to India last December, I personally verified many instances of police brutality and torture in police stations and jails. The methods used are revolting victims were doused with cold water in winter nights to waken them; hung upside-down, naked; and victims were beaten with shoes, gunbutts and steel rods; victims had burning candles applied to the soles of their feet which were then punctured with nails. One might ask what information could be so valuable as to justify such inhuman treatment. In most cases, the police sought confessions to involve in non-existent plots against the government or the whereabouts - of opposition leaders who had gone underground.

Nor are detention, imprisonment, and torture of political opponents the only -evidence of gross abuse and arbitrary exercise of political power. For example, in slum-clearing operations in Delhi and Bombay, thousands of people had their huts razed and were forcibly loaded into trucks and moved at a distance of 20 to 30 miles away from the cities. They were left in the countryside without any assistance and miles from the source of their livelihood.

Also, last spring, a large number of men including newlyweds from a Moslem neighborhood of Delhi were herded into trucks to be taken to clinics for compulsory sterilization. Only the outbreak of riots, to which the police responded with guns, killing dozens, forced the government to rethink its policy.

The repressive actions of Mrs. Gandhi's government are squarely in conflict with international law norms on human rights. To illustrate:

The United Nations Charter itself, in Articles 55 and 56, requires member states to take joint and separate action to promote "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. . . ." India has many times herself invoked the U.N. Charter in relations to human rights violations by other states, yet now defies it when applied to her own action.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, first adopted in 1948 and periodically reaffirmed by the U.N. General Assembly, provides an authoritative elaboration of the human rights recognized and protected by the international community. The Declaration has a great moral and political weight as an expression of community standards, and many of its provisions have attained the status of general principles of customary international law.

The Universal Declaration protects the rights of all persons to life, liberty and security of persons (Art. 3) and to due process of law, including the rights to a fair and public hearing (Art. 80), the presumption of innocence (Art. 11) and protection from arbitrary arrest, detention or exile (Art. 9). Since the beginning of the "emergency", the Indian Government has consistently and flagrantly violated these fundamental rights.

Between 100,000 and 170,000 Indian citizens have been deprived of their liberty and fundamental rights under the "emergency" proclaimed by Mrs. Gandhi. Among these are former cabinet ministers, members of both houses of Parliament, the leaders of the opposition parties, and even dissenting members of the Congress Party itself. Perhaps most distressing is the fact that judicial review, once a firm protector of the civil and political rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, has been sharply curtailed by executive-legislative fiat.

The practice of torture and other forms of inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment is categorically prohibited under international law. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration and Articles 7 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights clearly outlaw such measures against any person under any circumstances. The Covenant further stipulates that the right to be free of torture is so fundamental that it cannot be derogated even in time of public emergency (Art. 4(2)).

As mentioned earlier, I was personally able to verify a number of instances of such repugnant treatment of Indian citizens. These practices, so at odds with the ideals which Indian democracy set for itself, are clear violations of inter

national law, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration, the Covenant, the Declaration on the Protection of All persons from Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and a long line of Resolutions of the U.N. General Assembly.

The rights to freedom of expression, of the press, of peaceful assembly and the right to self-government are recognized as fundamental both in the Indian Constitution (essentially Art. 19) and in international law (Articles 19, 20, and 21 of the Universal Declaration).

These rights have been denied under the "emergency" proclaimed by the Government. The blanket of silence imposed on the Indian press denies not only the freedom of expression, but also the concomitant right to receive information, a right essential to democratic government. Through the Emergency Proclamation and subsequent actions of the Government, the once vital Indian political system has been by-passed and made impotent.

The exigencies of emergency situations have been recognized by the international community as allowing some derogation of human rights. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in Article 4, provides that states may depart from their obligations when an emergency "threatens the life of the nation", and only "to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation." While war with Pakistan or China-the situations when India previously declared an "emergency" can be said to threaten the life of the nation, the overthrow of a Prime Minister most certainly is not. Even if such a grave situation existed, the far-reaching and pervasive measures taken by Mrs. Gandhi far exceed those required by the exigencies of the situation. In addition, Article 4 specifically stipulates that torture is prohibited and that freedom of thought and conscience is to be protected, even in times of emergency.

Thus, the above standards of international law and the expectations of the world community, standards that India has set for herself in the past and to which she has held others accountable, have been flagrantly and brutally violated by the Government of India during the past year.

SORELY-NEEDED ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL REFORMS AND THE "EMERGENCY" The economic "successes" of the post-emergency period are usually offered in evidence by Indira Gandhi's government and its apologists to rationalize the demise of democracy. They claim some of the repressive practices I have outlined earlier were imperative for implementing urgently needed economic and social reforms.

This rationalization is untenable on two counts: (1) the present Constitution of India recognizes only security grounds for declaring an "emergency" under Article 352, not economic and social reforms, and (2) the much-publicized social and economic progress under the "emergency" is sheer facade. Unfortunately, however, many western observers, lacking personal contact with the subcontinent, have swallowed the "Madison Avenue" approach to economic progress and social reform, and have failed to distinguish between substance and slogans.

For example, take the proposition that the emergency has halted inflation. Certainly inflation has declined the past year and a half, but the inflation rate turned the corner before the "emergency" was instituted. India began to restrict the growth of the money supply two years ago (as the United States did) in response to the threat of the world-wide inflation. This "credit squeeze" paid dividends-it caused inflation to decline. For confirmation, one need only examine the 1975 World Bank report on India which praised the Summer 1974 credit restraint policies as "a considerable achievement."

The claim that the "emergency" has fostered real economic growth similarly disguises the true picture. Certainly food grain output rose. But India also enjoyed her best monsoon season in several years. Given the ideal weather conditions, the 4 percent rise over food grain levels of five years ago might be termed disappointing.

The industrial sector enjoyed no such assist from Mother Nature. What little data can be gleaned from censored Indian sources indicate: (1) an ever-deepening recession-real production in all but the largest industries has declined: (2) growing idle capacity-the value of idle equipment has approached 7 billion dollars and (3) mounting unemployment-estimates range as high as 28 percent. 'Certainly India could well do without this "economic miracle".

The economy has failed to respond to the "emergency" because the "emergency has left untouched the basic social structures and gross inequities from which the country suffers." If anything, the so-called social reforms have only traded incompetence for inhumanity.

Specifically, the much publicized 20-point economic program-Indira Gandhi's New Deal-constitutes an exercise in bureaucratic hypocrisy. The six points aimed expressly at aiding the poor (including the abolition of bonded labor, liquidation of rural debt, and radical land reforms) have been reiterated so often in the past that they have lost all practical significance. The ruling Congress party has had twenty-eight years to fulfill these very same promises. Can one expect greater success now that they are "emergency promises"?

One instance where the "reforms" have succeeded, however, is the stifling of the labor movement. The "emergency" has abruptly halted labor activism, strikes, and annual bonuses to employees, much to the satisfaction of big industrialists. The achievement of such "industrial peace" exhibits the true spirit of the "reforms."

The Congress party remains the party of the rich farmer and the dominant landlord, and the legislation directed against them remains un-implemented. Also, Indira Gandhi to date has shown no practical effort directed at building a broadbased middle class. It is the middle class which supplies the savings for investment, and the discretionary income for consumption. Without a broad-based class of consumers-investors, significant economic growth will remain impossible. As it now stands, the vast majority of the people have little money to spend on staples, let alone investment.

Yet to date the "emergency" has served to reinforce the historical gulf between rich and poor, not bridge it. One must ask why, if the "emergency" is being enthusiastically welcomed by a large segment of the population and has resulted in such marked social and economic progress, does Indira Gandhi still believe that its repressive measure remain necessary to preserve social discipline? Also, why is there such intolerance and ruthless suppression of any form of dissent?

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, has Indira Gandhi yet proposed a "reform" that required an autocracy for its implementation? Is there any element of her 20-point program that could not be accomplished by a democracy, responsive to the needs of the people?


Let me summarize the conclusions of my statement. (1) The rationalization for imposing the "emergency" are devoid of substance. They are overstated, unsound, unpersuasive, and invalid. (2) In suppressing human rights, Indira Gandhi's government has grossly violated widely accepted norms of international law. (3) The imposition of the "emergency" by Indira Gandhi is an unforgivable act. For, to halt the free flow of information, to outlaw and silence political opposition, all that is needed is brute, naked force. But, once democracy is stifled and human rights crushed, it is an uphill task to reestablish democratic traditions. (4) The greatest hazard of Indira Gandhi's actions lies in setting into motion forces which she or her successor may not be able to control.

For example, the Indian military forces which have so far maintained a nonpolitical stance may seek to emulate the role of the armed forces in many developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

If discipline is the key word, who, after all, is more disciplined than the military? In addition, the military will have a ready-made rationale for a takeover, the one used by Indira Gandhi herself-maintenance of security and stability in India.

(5) Economic and social reforms and the restoration of democracy are not mutually exclusive. While before June 26, 1975, perhaps 30 percent of India's population enjoyed the fruits of democracy (70 percent of the rural population were not real participants in decision-making because of a combination of factors such as a narrow economic base, a high percentage of illiteracy, and acute poverty), today less than one percent-bureaucrats, Indira Gandhi, her son Sanjay and their faithful followers in the Congress party are in that privileged position. The contrast between a year ago and today is that a combination of the spread of education and other efforts to broaden the economic and political base could result in a steady increase in the percentage of people actively participating in a democratic process, a process abruptly halted with the imposition of the "emergency".

(6) The most promising prospect on India's political horizon is the merger of various non-Marxist political parties into a united party. It could offer a viable alternate to the ruling Congress party, if and when elections are held. Any discussion of India's return to democracy is highly speculative. Indira Gandhi is not likely to give up power voluntarily. However, she could be persuaded to enter into a dialogue with the opposition and to restore democracy. The underground in India, which is reportedly gathering momentum, has pledged to remain nonviolent, and is mobilizing public opinion to achieve its goal of the restoraton of democracy in the first instance, to be followed by the implementation of a reform program it has recently outlined.

Silence on the part of those who care for individual freedom and liberty and human dignity is often considered a license by the oppressor. India's friends abroad cannot afford to be silent. In this context, organizations such as Amnesty International, The International League of Human Rights, the Friends of India Society International, Indians for Democracy, and the World Committee for Human Rights in India, have been providing yeoman service in the cause of liberty and freedom in India. International public opinion, while admittedly fragile, can certainly play a most useful role in putting pressure on Indira Gandhi's government to relent, to halt and even reverse the current use of repressive policies. That is why I cannot thank you enough for conducting these hearings.

Mr. FRASER. Thank you very much, Professor.

We will turn to our second witness now, Bishop Mathews, United Methodist Church.


Reverend MATHEWS. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee,. let me say, first of all, how pleased I am to be able to make a statement about the present situation in India. Ours is a global period in history. The concerns of people anywhere are the concerns of all. The welfare of one-seventh of the human race matters to the whole of humanity. That India should succeed in fulfilling its aspirations. and plans as a free nation is of great importance to the entire world. In my view it is also in the best interest of the United States that our attitude toward and relationship with India should be as constructive as possible.

In what I say I do not speak for any group either in India or the United States. My views are my own though I believe they do express. the sentiments of a great many close observers of the Indian scene. In a sense I am surprised that I speak in support of the emergency policies of India's Government. Ordinarily and in principle I should find repugnant any measures which restrict the civil liberties of a people. Nevertheless in the present situation I believe these measures have been warranted. I would hasten to add that it is my earnest hope that the restrictions will be lifted at the earliest possible moment. Perhaps I should attempt to establish my qualifications to speak about India. For the past 38 years I have been intimately related to that nation, and its people and their neighbors. In early 1938 I went there to serve as a missionary. During World War II I was for 411⁄2 years. a U.S. Army officer in the China-Burma-India theater. I have some acquaintance with two languages of India and have traveled widely in almost every part of the subcontinent. During the years I have at least met many of her leaders and have hosts of Indian friends. My doctoral dissertation at Columbia University dealt with the methods

of Mahatma Gandhi. I have lived in India for 10 years and for 14 years my work was related administratively to that nation. It has been my privilege to visit Southern Asia repeatedly and at least annually for a number of years. Moreover, I am in frequent correspondence with India and am constantly in touch with visitors from that part of the world. In other words, I have been in a position to keep fairly well informed about Indian affairs. Last summer my wife and I were in India for 6 weeks, during which time the emergency was proclaimed.

Indeed, when we returned to this country in mid-July and read the news dispatches about India we could scarcely recognize the reports as having to do with the country from which we had just returned. In my view the reporting was distorted, one-sided and in many respects misleading. Some went so far as to liken Indira Gandhi's India to Adolph Hitler's Germany. The impression given was that the country was chaotic and under a reign of terror. Friends were worried about our safety. The fact is that two of our children and two of their friends traveled alone for an additional month all over the country with never a bad experience nor an anxious moment. Now it is quite true that the emergency has involved the suspension of a number of civil liberties; that the press has been subject to censorship and control. I know how distasteful this is but I know too that many of India's newspapers had been indiscriminate and often irresponsible in what they published as news. The international press could scarcely be exempted from restrictions regarded necessary with respect to the vernacular press. It is also true that the emergency has occasioned the arrests of a large number of persons and their imprisonment without trial. There is no denying the pain this has occasioned them and their families. One could hardly suppose that there have not been incidents of police brutality but I do not believe this has been usual. Nevertheless, as objectionable as I would find all these restrictions, they have been prompted by prevailing circumstances which have justified them.

India is a large, complex and highly diverse country. A reading of its history would suggest that it is not easy to govern. Balkanization has been a persistent tendency. The instinct for democracy, however, runs deep in the national life. This stems not only from its tutelage in parliamentary procedures under British rule but also from a tradition of very long standing of considerable local autonomy. Since independence the party in power at the center has been the Congress Party which won independence. In February 1971 Mrs. Gandhi, enjoying much prestige and popularity, was continued in office by a sweeping majority. A persistent minority, deeply dissatisfied with her rule and rate of progress, determined to unseat her— by extra-parliamentary means if necessary.

The opposition to the prime minister's government was a strange coalition of parties and people of the extreme right and extreme left. They had often voiced opposition to parliamentary democracy and free elections and had no real ground in common except the desire to overthrow the majority rule by any available means. It was not conceivable that this coalition could have mounted a program offering a positive alternative. There appears to have been a deliberate effort

« ÎnapoiContinuă »