In 2008, India appeared before the U.N. Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review process, an important human rights procedure in which States review one another’s human rights records. The Human Rights Council explicitly called India’s attention to the suicides of Indian farmers as a human rights issue.India responded to questions about poverty and human rights by stating the following:
“[Other countries] had referred to India’s phenomenal growth but rightly raised questions about whether this was an all inclusive growth and if the gulf between the rich and poor is not growing. This is one of the greatest concerns of India and every effort is made to ensure there is no disparity between the rich and the poor. Recently, in the budget presented by the Finance Minister, India decided to write off US$15 billion worth of farmers’ debt. This is one of the largest schemes undertaken by any government to promote the welfare of its farmers. However, this was not a one-time exercise. India is committed to make sustained efforts and coordinated programmes.”
Pay attention to the evident hollowness of the Indian government’s claim to be making efforts to ensure that “there is no disparity between the rich and the poor.” To cite one case in point, in comparison to the US$15 billion farmers’ debt waiver once in 2008, the Indian government has written off a total of US$84 billion in corporate income taxes since 2005.
–Source: Every 30 Minutes – Farmer suicides, Human rights and the Agrarian Crisis in India (Center for Human Rights & Global Justice, NYU School of Law)