Geneva: India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Indramani Pandey, during the 49th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday said that India is a secular state and safeguarding the rights of minorities forms an essential core of democracy.

"India is a secular State and safeguarding the rights of minorities forms an essential core of our democratic polity," he said at the UNHRC session.

"Our Constitution has enshrined basic human rights as fundamental rights. Our democratic institutions, including the watchful Parliament and independent judiciary, vibrant media and civil society ensure the enjoyment of human rights by all Indian citizens, including minorities. We have robust internal mechanisms to address any grievance faced by any citizen of India, including minorities," he added.

He emphasized that India has been at the forefront of global action and discourse on promotion and protection of human rights adding, "As a democratic, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-cultural society, India bring a pluralistic, moderate and balanced perspective to deliberations in the Council."

The envoy further stressed that India has an abiding commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights that has been manifest in its strategy to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed at saving both lives and livelihoods.

Moreover, during the session, the envoy mentioned India's global contribution in tackling the pandemic. "While meeting our own huge needs, we have offered vaccines, essential medicines and equipment to more than 150 countries," he remarked.

"India remains committed to ensuring that all basic needs of our citizens, including women, girls and minorities, are fully met. It is imperative to achieve sustainable and inclusive development for the realisation of basic human rights. We have made tremendous progress in the realisation of these mutually reinforcing objectives," he added.

He noted that to empower the marginalized and vulnerable sections of Indian society, the country has undertaken targeted policy interventions by increasing access to education, housing, healthcare, social welfare, basic services, employment and finances.

"Over the past seven and half decades, India has undergone an enormous political, social, economic and cultural transformation, in a democratic environment, which is unprecedented in the world. We are committed to continuing this journey while promoting and protecting the human rights of our people," the envoy stated during the UN session.