Washington, February 9: An independent bipartisan American body has claimed the religious minority communities and Dalits are faced with discrimination and persecution in India where social boycotts, hate, crimes and forced conversion have escalated dramatically since 2014, requesting the US to put the focus on human rights when it comes to trade and diplomatic interactions with India.
According to a report released by US Commission for International Religious Freedom that monitors violation of religious freedom abroad,”Under Congress Party and BJP-led governments, religious minority communities and Dalits, both have faced discrimination and persecution due to a combination of overly broad or ill-defined laws, an inefficient criminal justice system, and a lack of jurisprudential consistency.”
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“In particular, since 2014, hate crimes, social boycotts, assaults and forced conversion have escalated dramatically,” states the report ‘Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in India’ which has been authored by Iqtidat Karamat cheema, director of Institute for Leadership and Community Development, Birmingham, England.
According to PTI, the report suggests the US Government, to place religious freedom and human rights at the heart of all trade, aid, and diplomatic relationships with India.
USCIRF Chair Thomas J Reese said,”India is a religiously diverse and democratic society with a constitution that provides legal equality for its citizens irrespective of their religion and prohibits religion-based discrimination.”
“However, the reality is far different. In fact, Indias pluralistic tradition faces serious challenges in a number of its states,” he added.
Reese mentioned, “During the past few years, religious tolerance has deteriorated and religious freedom violations have increased in some areas of India. To reverse this negative trajectory, the Indian and state governments must align their laws with both the country’s constitutional commitments and international human rights standards.”
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Running into 22 pages, the report alleges constitutional provisions and state and national laws can be found in India that does not comply with international standards of freedom of religion or belief, including Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The report also alleges concerns have been mounting about the fate of religious minorities in India following the victory of BJP in May 2014 elections.
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The author also demanded, “As feared by many faith communities across India, threats, hate crimes, social boycotts, desecration of places of worship, assaults and forced conversions led by radical Hindu nationalist movements have escalated dramatically under the BJP-led government.
– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang
Secularism is neither universal nor golden standard in the contemporary world. There are many non- secular states predominantly Islamic countries, Israel, the Vatican, and so forth. They enjoy equal clout in international affairs without being reduced to second-grade status in the absence of Secularism.
There is no other country in the world that showed pride in their constitution, which is anti-majority in character except India. Indian law is Anti Hindu and pro-minority. Due to this very nature, Indian Secularism is a double-edged sword. Secularism in India is ineffective, dangerous, and self-destructive. In spite of having Hindu phobic secularism installed in its constitution, the anti-Hindu bias in domestic and international media is rampant. Hindus are shown as fundamentalists in so-called liberal and reputed publications like “New York Times” and “Washington Post.” Almost every year India stands along with Pakistan and countries alike in religious freedom report prepared by not so neutral agencies like USCIRF. (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom) The resurgence of nationalism and dominance of the current political regimen in India is the direct result of perverted Secularism, which is not in sync with Indian customs, Dharma, and culture.
So, what is Secularism? Secularism means separation of state and religion originated in European society as a solution to prevent Catholic-Protestant conflict among Christians. The concept of Secularism found a unique solution for western civilization at that time. The current Secularism in the West is matured enough as they have also amended their laws along with times of Renaissance and Reaffirmation.
India adopted the imported model of Secularism from Europe after its independence. But think tanks of India never considered integrating various aspects of Dharmic civilization (Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism) to make Secularism relevant to the Indian context. Dharma embraces all pathways in achieving an eternal goal, and there is no history of religious persecution in India nor a conflict between “Temple vs. State” or “Dharma Vs. Science.” The imported model adopted by the government blindly after independence caused ideological darkness in India. Hence real progress as a modern nation of India is hampered. The Indian state has positive secularism. Unfortunately, it can interfere in religious matters related to Hindus only. It is politically correct for media, academia, and intellectuals to uphold Muslims and others to practice and propagate on to their religious ways but Hindu’s rights to articulate their religion, sentiments or cultural concerns are considered communal, and that is perplexing.
WHO ARE THE MINORITIES IN INDIA?
Hindus who are in numerical majority face unique problems as the constitution, and the legal system favors minorities. Muslims ruled India for 700 years and Christian British who colonized India for 300 years. Though both are at their best in Proselytization Dharmic civilization survived due to its inner strength. The minorities in India are historically Hindus who become the follower of Abrahamic faith due to conversion by inducement or by force but very few of them by their consciousness.
Both Christians and Muslims are well represented in politics, governance, Bollywood, media, and even in Hindu temple management. Globally Christianity and Islam are significant power-packed organized religions and dominate the world demography.
Indian Muslims are nearly 200 million in number, and India has the third-largest Muslim population in the world. India has more than 300000 mosques, and Indian Muslims have political back up in international circles due to the powerful Islamic bloc. There are more than 30 million Christians in India, and generally, they are more educated and economically forward than Hindus. It’s a known fact that Church is the largest landowner in India after the Indian government thanks to the British colonial legacy.
The Indian constitution stipulates there should not be any particular bill for any religion. Article 29 of the constitution refer to Minorities as “section of citizens having a distinct language, script, and culture.” Some of the anomalies and contradictions of Indian Secularism are briefed below. It’s an irony that Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and Jews are also a minority in India, but establishments and political parties are not wooing them with special treatments.
ABSENCE OF UNIFORM CIVIL CODE
Article 44 of the constitution declares that the state shall endeavor to seek for the citizen a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India. But even after 70 years of independence, there is no Uniform Civil Code in India, unlike Australia. That means there are separate personal laws for Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and the Jewish community. Out of all their laws, only Hindu customs are secularized.
At present, but civil requirements are different from public law and cover marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, and maintenance. Lack of uniform civil code makes India a false secular state since it cannot provide social justice and gender equality in family matters.
The absence of a uniform civil code affects national integrity and security. For example, Muslim Personal Law Board vehemently opposes uniform civil code as they argue that they will be deprived of Sharia law once the Uniform Civil Code is implemented. The Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir has enacted Sharia law in the country more than a decade back. Secularism without Uniform Civil Code means communities living in enclaves and exodus of Hindus which started from Kashmir is spreading to West Bengal, Kerala, UP, and Bihar.
MINORITY AFFAIRS MINISTRY AND MINORITY FAVOURING SCHEMES
Article 15(1) of the constitution stipulates “The state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
But the Indian government probably only one in the world with Minority affairs cabinet ministry meant for all religions except Hinduism. Muslims are the second-largest majority in India. Till recently Haj pilgrimage was subsidized for Muslims on taxpayer’s money in a Hindu majority country. In 2011 Karnataka Government formed Karnataka Development Parishat for the overall development of the Christian community. In states like Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland Christians are in the majority. The Hindus are in the minority in eight of the states in India, but Indian Secularism does not recognize them as minorities.
In 2006 former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh stated minorities must have the first claim on resources, especially Muslims. Just after the recent election in 2019 Ministry of Minority Affairs came out with several freebies for minorities in education, jobs and welfare programs targeting Muslims exclusively. This sort of Secularism where minority pandering at the cost of the majority community is occurring even under the so-called pro-Hindu government. Refer to http://indiafacts.org/for more details.
ONLY HINDU TEMPLES ARE UNDER GOVERNMENT CONTROL
The government controls many Hindu temples in South India, but not Mosques or Churches. Rich Hindu temples are cash cows for the government. Once the government takes over temples, its dignity comes down drastically as the government is not bothered about its traditions and customs except its revenues. The revenues originating from the temples are used for non-Hindu causes like filling up revenue deficits and minority welfare programs. The money collected on Hundi is not spent on Dharma purposes like promoting Indic traditions and causes. The government appoints people of their choice, including politician’s family members to administer temples.
ANTI HINDU AND PRO MINORITY LEGISLATIONS
The striking legislation against the majority is about establishing educational institutions. In India, minorities like Muslims, Christians got a special right to develop their institutions. They can set their own rules on admission of students, recruitment of staff, and also introducing their faith specific rules and curriculum. But Hindus does not have these privileges. That’s the reason why some of the sects of Hindus like Lingayat’s are demanding separate religion status to avail minority benefits.
Hindu customs has to go through the Western lens of human rights, animal rights, and gender equality. But the same lens does not apply to the traditions of minorities. The recent Sabarimala controversy is a classic example of how media, NGOs and Courts use the discourse of gender equality, the Right to pray and so on to undermine the age-old tradition of the temples using an imported ideological lens.
Indian constitution and Secularism are blunder-wonder of the world. India and Indians are the ardent admirers of Western democracy. In the West, there is no Secularism without a Uniform Civil Code. In a highly successful democratic secular country like Australia, there are no discriminatory benefits to ethnic minorities at the cost of majorities. Muslims and Christians enjoy the privileges given by the constitution in India, but in the same way, no neighboring country (or any other country) reciprocates the same for Hindus.