By Arul Louis
United Nations– India has accused Pakistan of promoting a “culture of violence” and using the high-level UN meeting on the culture of peace for hate speech.
“We have witnessed yet another attempt today by the delegation of Pakistan to exploit a UN platform for hate speech against India, even as it continues to foment a ‘culture of violence’ at home and across its borders,” Vidisha Maitra, a First Secretary at India’s UN mission told the General Assembly on Tuesday.
“We dismiss and condemn all such efforts,” she said in her address to the high-level forum on culture of peace while making a passive reference to Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Munir Akram’s remarks.
Akram devoted six paragraphs of his nine-paragraph speech to India and the RSS and asked the General Assembly to “confront Hindutva”.
Though often speeches at the UN veer off the topic, Akram’s address was unusual in that it almost entirely targeted an organisation in a member country using an invective for it.
Without identifying Pakistan, Maitra drew attention to the religion-based terrorism emanating from there, saying “There can be no doubt that terrorism, which is a manifestation of intolerance and violence, is the antithesis of all religions and cultures. The world should be concerned by terrorists who use religion to justify these acts and those who support them in this quest.”
She said that the UN and the member states “refrain from selectivity on such issues which hinders a culture of peace”.
“India reiterates its call for the application of the principles of objectivity, non-selectivity and impartiality to form the basis of discussions in the United Nations especially on the issue of religion,” she said.
She recalled Swami Vivekananda’s speech at the Parliament of World Religions in 1893 at Chicago in which he emphasised India’s civilisational ethos of accepting the greatness of all religions.
She said, “India is called a country of ‘unity in diversity.’ Our concept of pluralism is based on our ancient ethos of ‘Sarva Dharma Sambhav’ which means ‘equal respect for all faiths’.”
Although the Covid-19 pandemic brought out the interdependence of humanity, there has also been “an upsurge in intolerance, violence, and terrorism.”
“We face the ‘infodemic’ challenge which has been responsible for a rise in hate speech and in seeding hatred within communities,” she said.
The World Health Organisation defines infodemic “as too much information including false or misleading information in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak” which causes mistrust of health authorities and undermines public health response and can lead to intensification or lengthening of disease outbreaks.
Maitra recalled that in June, last year India along with 12 countries had co-sponsored the Cross-Regional Statement on ‘Infodemic’ in the Context of Covid-19. (IANS)