Emphasising the need for India to promote inclusivity and protect human rights, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday, 19 October, that the country must condemn hate speech "unequivocally."
"India's voice on the global stage can only gain authority and credibility from a strong commitment to inclusivity and respect for human rights also at home," Guterres said, while addressing a gathering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bombay.
Guterres, who is on a two-day visit to India, said:
"As an elected member of the Human Rights Council, India has a responsibility to shape global human rights and to protect and promote the rights of all individuals, including members of minority communities."
Lauding India's non-violent Independence movement, the UN Secretary-General impressed upon Indians to practise "the values of Gandhi" and secure and uphold "the dignity of all people – especially the most vulnerable." He also stressed the need for a "concrete action for inclusion, recognising the enormous value and contributions of multicultural, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic societies."
Guterres' speech comes just weeks after the Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organisation, expressed concerns over India allegedly using abusive punishments against Muslims accused of violating laws.
India must nurture diversity "...by condemning hate speech unequivocally, by protecting the rights and freedoms of journalists, human rights acitivists, students and academics," the UN Secretary-General said.
India has also received criticism from several UN experts in light of journalists and activists like Teesta Setalvad, Rana Ayyub, Siddique Kappan, and Umar Khalid being allegedly targeted by BJP-led government agencies.
Earlier in the day, Guterres visited the memorial for the victims of the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai, where he spoke about terrorism. "Fighting terrorism must be a global priority for every country on earth," he said.