Jonas Ekströmer / TT
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven with India's president Shri Pranab Mukherjee in Stockholm in June. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer / TT Credit: Jonas Ekströmer / TT

Professor: Löfven should discuss minority rights on India trip

4:16 min

Saturday Prime Minister Stefan Löfven is scheduled to travel to Mumbai for two days to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and to make an appearance at an industry conference called "Make it India." One professor says Löfven should use the opportunity to express concern over deteriorating human rights and religious intolerance in India.

Ashok Swain, a professor in peace and conflict research at Uppsala University, wrote in daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter that Löfven should ensure that Swedish economic investments in India's growing economy do not support environmental degradation, forced displacements, or the exploitation of low-paid workers. India is seen as a potentially lucrative export partner, but Swain writes that religious intolerance and the problematic treatment of minorities, especially during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's time in office, are points that a Swedish foreign policy, which would champion human rights, should find issue with.

"Sweden is trying to establish its image as a humanitarian superpower, particularly with emphasis on minority rights," Swain told Radio Sweden. "India's minority population is huge. There are 200 million Muslims, around 25 million Christians, there are the lower castes, and also gender rights are in a despicable state in India. This is where Stefan Löfven can have a very frank and open discussion with Modi."

Swain said that Löfven has a chance to speak up on these issues if economic cooperation is being discussed. He also said that attempts to develop India's industry should not be conducted at cost to the environment and to its citizens.

Do you expect Löfven to raise these issues?

"I think that will not probably take place because we haven't seen any signs of any discussions, any ways that Sweden or any other country in Europe... have problems with the minority rights in India," said Swain.

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