UN meddling in Indian politics: Top representative must be removed
Renata Lok-Dessallien, the United Nations' top representative in India, was ticked off by the foreign ministry on Monday for her gratuitous comments about alleged incidents of rape and murder in Uttar Pradesh. The UN's Resident Co-ordinator thought fit to preach to the government about ensuring justice in the Hathras and Balrampur cases. She went on to make comments about gender-based violence and "entrenched social norms," finding her tongue in India after a track record of bowing and shaping before authoritarian regimes, especially China.
India's mild rap on the knuckles is way too gentle for the Canadian diplomat. Anurag Srivastava, the spokesman for the foreign ministry, called her intervention unwarranted and "best avoided" while saying that the investigation is still underway. There is no need to justify India's commitment to rule of law with someone who has a demonstrated track record of bias.
In April, during a meeting where Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant was present, Lok-Desallien commented about migrant labourers and the "stigmatisation of certain sects of people." India, at that time, described her comments as "highly objectionable."
Observe the pattern: The so-called diplomat is clearly venturing into domestic political territory and making remarks on issues which clearly are aligned with the Opposition's point of view. The Opposition has carried out campaigns on the very same issues on which Lok-Dessallien is intervening. It is not enough that India mildly chastise her. Rather, we must demand that the United Nations withdraw her as the Resident Coordinator and appoint someone who is fit to do the job.
From 2010 to 2013, Lok-Dessallien was the Resident Coordinator in China. Did she stand up for human rights and freedom in Tibet? Did she speak out about the plight of the minorities in Xinjiang? Did she raise her voice against authoritarianism? No, no and no. In fact, she wrote this (hyperlink) gushing piece in China Daily, the Communist Party's mouthpiece, glorifying the achievements of the regime.
Sample one of her observations here: "China already has long-standing inbuilt systems to canvas the views of its citizens and, more recently, has experimented with a wide range of innovative approaches to citizens' involvement in public decision making and problem solving."
Is this not rich? She is drooling all over the authoritarian regime in China. In fact, she was removed as the Resident Coordinator in Myanmar because of her inaction in the Rohingya crisis. But here in India Lok-Dessallien has the gumption to inveigle herself into domestic politics and lecture the world's largest democracy about the rule of law.
The admonitions of the government are an ineffective response. Lok-Dessallien is not just undiplomatic, she is sinister. Her agenda is very clear and she must not be allowed to pursue it any further. India must resolutely demand that the United Nations remove her from the post.