Count on India to act on Justice Verma report: UN chief

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Monday said he "counts" on India to act on the report of Justice JS Verma suggesting stricter laws to deal with crimes against women.

IANS| Updated: Jan 12, 2015, 23:17 PM IST

New Delhi: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Monday said he "counts" on India to act on the report of Justice JS Verma suggesting stricter laws to deal with crimes against women.

Delivering the 13th Sapru House Lecture at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), Ban said India has a responsibility for South Asia to "stop" countries from developing nuclear arsenal.

Ban said he wants India to support the UN`s women programme for fostering equality.

"Justice Verma delivered valuable recommendations to prevent violence against women. I count on the government to act on them," he said.

Justice Verma, who died in April 2013, chaired the panel that came out with recommendations on improving women`s security following the Dec 16, 2012, gang rape.

"No country can prosper while its women suffer and are held back," Ban said, adding that though women constitute more than half of the world`s population, they were the least utilised resource.

In a tacit reference to the rights of homosexuals and transgenders, Ban said: "I call on India to promote gender tolerance and non-discrimination, and with the full participation of women and all minority groups through sustainable peace."

The UN secretary general, speaking on the subject "India and the United Nations in a Changing World", said he was deeply influenced by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and that there was a need for "collective responsibility to conserve the spirit of Gandhi`s teachings".

He said that while India has laws that enshrine equality and laws that address past discrimination, "millions of Dalits and tribals and others still face discrimination, especially women and girls. In too many communities, religious minorities also suffer, and must continue battle for equality".

He said that if Gandhi`s teachings were followed in their true spirit, there will be no corruption or inequality.

"Let his teachings inspire all of us," he said, and added that "education is the key and schools should be the gardens of global citizenship, not battlegrounds of divisive ideology".

He said India was a backer of a nuclear-weapons-free world and therefore "India has responsibility for South Asia to stop developing nuclear arsenals" which he said was all the more important in the context of rising terrorism.

Referring to the Mumbai terror attack and the recent terror attack on an army school in Peshawar, Ban said the UN has a comprehensive counter terror policy that India fully supports.

He urged India to "walk with its neighbours" on the ways to tackle terror through preventing and combating terror, controlling it and ensuring respect for human rights and the rule of law.

He also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s `Make in India` as a "very good policy".

"`Make in India` is a very good policy to make the country into a manufacturing hub. I saw the possibility in Gujarat in Vibrant Gujarat, I felt the vibrations... the whole world is vibrating with its dynamism.

He suggested that `Make in India` could be made into "Make it Green in India".

He said Modi "gives rightly priority to smart cities", which he said was central for action on climate change.

Ban said India was a "driver of peace in the region and world" and added that with regard to regional security, the "world is looking to India to advance peace and stability in South Asia".

"A peaceful environment will help India achieve its goal," he said, and urged India and Pakistan to "put aside their disputes".