Human rights in India

status in world's 2nd most populous country

Human rights in India is an issue complicated by the country's large size and population, widespread poverty, lack of proper education, as well as its diverse culture, despite its status as the world's largest sovereign, secular, democratic republic.


  • At most periods of her history India, though a cultural unit, has been torn by internecine war. In statecraft, her rulers were cunning and unscrupulous. Famine, flood and plague visited her from time to time, and killed millions of her people. Inequality of birth was given religious sanction, and the lot of the humble was generally hard. Yet our overall impression is that in no other part of the ancient world were the relations of man and man, and of man and the state, so fair and humane. In no other early civilisation were slaves so few in number, and in no other ancient lawbook are their rights so well protected as in the Arthasastra. No other ancient lawgiver proclaimed such noble ideals of fair play in battle as did Manu. In all her history of warfare Hindu India has few tales to tell of cities put to the sword or of the massacre of non-combatants…There was sporadic cruelty and oppression no doubt, but, in comparison with conditions in other early cultures, it was mild. To us the most striking feature of ancient Indian civilisation is its humanity.
    • A.L.Basham in his “The Wonder That Was India” quoted in [1] [This article is a major extract from the article "Sita Ram Goel, memories and ideas" by S. Talageri, written for the Sita Ram Goel Commemoration Volume, entitled "India's Only Communalist", edited by Koenraad Elst, published in 2005.
  • Most Westerners have never heard about the Hindu refugee problem, for most journalists including reputed India hands have simply kept it out of the picture.
    • About the Hindu refugees from Kashmir, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Elst, Koenraad (2014). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p. 250
  • Western human rights activists and non-Westerners trained and funded by them, go around the world creating new categories of ‘victims’ that can be used in divide-and-conquer strategies against other cultures. In India’s case, the largest funding of this type goes to middlemen who can deliver narratives about ‘abused’ Dalits and native (especially Hindu) women.
    • Rajiv Malhotra. Academic Hinduphobia (2016) (p.219)
  • One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one's self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma.
    • The Mahabharata XII 113.8, cited in Rajiv Malhotra:Indra's Net. p. 182
  • This might appear ironic, but in spite of a comparatively higher degree of repression, the lack of popular protest is more because of the success of the regime in constructing and popularising a narrative that not just delegitimises but simply denies the existence of suffering, injustice and victimhood. This is the narrative of subverting reality into its opposite. In this world of alternative reality, the victim is the offender (as in case of Muslims), suffering is sacrifice if not ill-informed exaggeration (as in the case of migrants’ plight) and marginalisation or exclusion are outcomes of past politics (as in the case of Dalits or Adivasis). This narrative posits two contrasting social camps. One is the nation. It represents unity, progress and a possible millennium. All else is fragmentary and divisive. So any voice speaking of a particular group's suffering becomes a hurdle in the march of the nation; any coalition of the marginalised by definition assumes an anti-national tenor. Such is the power of the narrative that the facts of suffering, humiliation or injustice lose their evocative potential; they cease to scandalise, they are unable to evoke a moral response. Democracy can thus afford the co-existence of multiple injustices and a quiet citizenry when such narratives are able to reconstruct facts and convince the masses of the validity of that reconstruction. The silence today is a result of the popular acceptance of reconstructed reality and adherence to an alternative morality.
  • You must make a difference between Hindu refugees and Muslim immigrants and the country must take responsibility of the refugees.
    • – Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s letter to the then chief minister of Assam, Gopinath Bordoloi, May 1949, quoted in Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story, by Monika Arora, Sonali Chitalkar, and Prerna Malhotra, 2020. Chapter 3
  • I refuse the fact that we should not care about the Hindus of Pakistan since they are Pakistani citizens. Irrespective of citizenship of Pakistan’s Hindus, it is our duty to protect them like we protect Indian Muslims and Hindus.
    • – Dr Ram Manohar Lohia (translated) as quoted by PM Narendra Modi in his speech in parliament, 6 February 2020., quoted in Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story, by Monika Arora, Sonali Chitalkar, and Prerna Malhotra, 2020. Chapter 3

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