Mumbai: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for practising the values of Mahatma Gandhi – the Father of the Nation – to achieve all-inclusivity, protecting the rights of all sections in the richly diverse country to make it stronger.
He said that the country’s voice can gain credibility on the world stage from a strong commitment to inclusivity, respect for human rights and dignity of all people, especially the most vulnerable, the freedom of journalists, activists, academics and students, by condemning hate-speech and ensuring the continued independence of India’s judiciary.
Addressing students at the IIT-Bombay, Guterres pointed out that as an elected Human Rights Council member, India had a responsibility to shape up global human rights, protect and promote the rights of all individuals, including the minorities, and nurture and strengthen it in its diverse and pluralistic society.
Here, Gandhiji’s principles would help by recognising the enormous values and contributions of the multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies, and unequivocal condemnation of hate-speech, he said.
Guterres urged Indians to be vigilant and step up investments in inclusive, pluralistic, diverse communities and societies besides doing much more to uphold women’s rights and gender equality, in this country and all over the world.
Terming the issue of women’s rights and gender equality as a “moral imperative”, he said that it will also serve as a multiplier for prosperity and sustainability, as no society can achieve full potential without equal rights for all women, men, girls, and boys.
Guterres highlighted how India is among the biggest contributors of military and police personnel to various UN Missions, including the first all-women peace-keeping mission, and over 200,000 Indian security personnel have served in 49 similar missions in the past 75 years.
Dwelling on how the UN is also working to achieve gender parity, but could not succeed to have a woman Secretary General, though half the women at the top management levels in the world-body are women, heading the department of political affairs, and mission heads in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, he frowned at violence against women as “a big cancer” which must be tackled in every nation with an emergency plan, besides how women activists and politicians are targets on social media with a “terrible campaign” run there.
Guterres confessed that we live in “a male-dominated world and a male-dominated culture”, and hence gender parity is all the more necessary at the top levels so that decisions are taken in such a manner “which makes gender equality a downstream phenomenon”.
Earlier on Wednesday, Guterres arrived to a warm reception in Mumbai and later attended a commemoration event for the victims of the 26/11 terror strikes at the Hotel Taj Mahal Palace, as part of his 3-day visit to India.