The Indian Diaspora led by Foundation London Story, a diaspora-led organization based in the Netherlands, released the first EU-India People’s Roadmap on August 15, 2021. The Roadmap, is a common agenda to guide political action and strengthen the EU-India strategic partnership with human rights and inclusive values at its heart. Marking India’s Independence Day, the Roadmap is an assertion of democratic values, constitutionalism and respect for human rights. The Roadmap predominantly reiterates and puts into context existing legal obligations of the European Union and India under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and demands the release of political prisoners held by populist governments in India as well in Europe.
In the preparation phase of the Roadmap, Amnesty India’s director Aakar Patel added “It is of utmost importance that governments are held accountable towards human rights violations in bilateral and multilateral relations in areas. Human rights must not be interpreted narrowly, he emphasized, but must feature centrally in debates all the way from climate change to complex surveillance”.
On the day of its release, the London Story communicated the roadmap to members of the European Parliament’s delegation with India, including Jakop Dalunde; members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, including Alviina Alametsä; members of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, including Maria Arena; Members of the German Parliament, including Omid Nouripour, Deputy Chair of the Germany-India Friendship Group; Members of the Dutch Parliament, including Nilüfer Gündoğan; and others. Several of these MPs and MEPs have already expressed their support for the spirit of the roadmap and have participated in the EU-India People Summit held from 1-8th of May 2021.
The roadmap enumerates specific action points in the areas of digital democracy, human rights, and climate change. It calls upon governments to position respect for human rights and human security at the core by incorporating human rights into every clause and also by regularly engaging with civil society through a comprehensive and continued EU-India Human Rights Dialogue.
“Given the persecution of dissenting voices in India, we as members of the diaspora and their friends are doing everything, we can to ensure those with political mandates hear what they have to say,” says Ritumbra Manuvie, co-director of The London Story.
“The official EU-India Strategic Partnership Document dedicates only 2 out of 118 points to human rights. That is why we positioned human rights and human security at the core of the People’s Roadmap,” says Alena Kahle, policy associate at the Foundation London Story.
In light of the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which emphasized that the obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement to keep global warming under 1.5C will be impossible to fulfil if radical action is not taken within the next ten years, the climate crisis must now more than ever be taken seriously as an existential threat. As such, the Roadmap emphasizes that climate change adaptation and mitigation are included within the right to life, health and food. Importantly, the Roadmap counters the narrative in which the climate crisis can only be approached through advanced technology, and reiterates both the failure of the so-called Green Revolution and the importance of traditional knowledge. The Roadmap also addresses the recent discovery of the use of Pegasus spyware, and calls for an in-depth and independent investigation into and provide an adequate remedy for the use of the Israeli Pegasus Spyware by the EU and India, and the regulation of the distribution, use and export of surveillance technology.
The People’s Roadmap led by Foundation London Story is endorsed by the Indian diaspora resident in the European Union (EU), academic experts from leading international universities, political actors within the EU and India, policymakers at various decision-making bodies of government, human rights practitioners, and civil society actors from both regions including Amnesty India, Center for Development Policy and Practice, India Civil Watch International, Coalition Against Fascism in India, Coalition Against the Violation and Abuse of Civil and Human Rights, Indian Solidarity Finland, Indian Alliance Paris, International Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India, Peace Vigil, Scottish Indian for Justice amongst others.
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