India’s federal system challenging good governance: US senator

India’s federal system is challenging good governance leading to issues of religious intolerance and extra-judicial killings, a US senator said here on Wednesday.

“Good governance is challenged by India’s federalism system,” Senator Benjamin Louis ‘Ben’ Cardin, a Democrat and a ranking member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), said while delivering a lecture on “Role of good governance in international relations” organised by the US embassy and think tank, the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

“I believe in federalism system. I served in the United States legislature,” he said, adding that it can help a country to develop policies to deal with critical problems.

“However, the current federalism system here in is challenging the effectiveness of national policies to combat corruption and other human rights violations.

“There are extra-judicial killings here in India, in different areas of this country.

“That cannot be allowed to continue.”

Cardin also flagged the issue of religious intolerance in India.

“There are religious tolerance issues, you have anti-conversion laws a long time ago for different reasons that exist today and yet they are being used in some parts of India to infringe people’s rights to religious freedom,” he said.

He also said that women were particularly vulnerable in India.

“Crimes against women have been permitted to exist for too long a period of time,” he said, adding that these were national challenges.

He referred to US President Barack Obama’s observation that how a nation treated its women is a clear barometer of how well it would do.

“India must do better,” he stressed.

Cardin also raised the issue of human trafficking in India.

“And I must tell you it is particularly troublesome on the issue of human trafficking.

has been a Tier II country in the Trafficking of Persons (TIP) Report prepared by the United States government primarily because of the situation of forced labour,” he said, noting that the Global Slavery Index indicated that India’s has 14 million people trapped in forced labour and that the latest report showed that this figure has now increased to 18 million.

He said the 2015 TIP Report stated that officials’ complicity in India in human trafficking occurred at various levels of government.

“The government did not report investigations, prosecutions or convictions of government officials complicitous in human trafficking offences,” he said.

Cardin said some corrupt law enforcement officials protected suspected traffickers and took bribes from sex trafficking establishments.

The senator also flagged the scourge of corruption in India and said that fighting corruption was still a work in progress in India.

“India has made progress but there is still much more needs to be done in this country,” he said.

“According to the 2015 US Human Rights Report, (Indian) officials frequently engage in corrupt practices with impunity. Corruption was present at all levels of government. That should be unacceptable to the people of India.”

He said that an NGO reported the payment of bribes to expedite services such as police protection, school admission and water supplies for governmental assistance.

However, though he made these comments ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US next week, Cardin praised Modi’s comments in the Wall Street Journal last week.

“The Modi administration has been speaking out against corruption,” he said, but added that they need to act by the use of strong laws and by funding enforcement of those laws.

Source:Business Standard. Date: June 1, 2016