[Burning Issue] Western Media’s Bias Against India



  • Recently, A federal U.S. commission, Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has urged the Biden administration to impose targeted sanctions on Indian Government agencies and officials responsible for “severe violations” of religious freedom in the country by freezing their assets.
  • In this context, this edition of Burning Issue will talk about this issue and the overall propaganda of West against India.

About USCIRF and its report

  • The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent U.S. federal government agency created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
  • USCIRF monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) abroad; makes policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and US Congress; and tracks the implementation of these recommendations. 
  • The USCIRF report assesses the status of religious freedom around the world.
  • It provides a comprehensive analysis of the state of religious freedom in countries across the globe, highlighting issues of concern and making recommendations for action by the US government.
  • Its report is an important tool for raising awareness of violations of religious freedom and advocating for greater protection of this fundamental human right.

More on the recent report

  • In its annual report on religious freedom, the USCIRF asked the U.S State Department to designate India as a “country of particular concern” on the status of religious freedom along with several other nations.
  • The USCIRF also recommended to Congress to raise the issue of religious freedom during U.S.-India bilateral meetings and hold hearings on it.
  • The USCIRF has been making similar recommendations to the State Department since 2020, which have not been accepted. The recommendations of USCIRF are not mandatory for the State Department.

What is religious freedom?

  • Freedom of religion or belief is an expansive right that includes the freedoms of thought, conscience, expression, association, and assembly. 
  • Inherent in religious freedom is the right to believe or not believe as one’s conscience leads, and live out one’s beliefs openly, peacefully, and without fear. 

Religious Freedom in India

Article 25: Freedom of Religion

  • Article 25 guarantees the right to freedom of religion to all citizens of India. It ensures that every person is free to practice, profess, and propagate the religion of their choice. However, this right is subject to certain restrictions, such as public order, morality, and health. The government also has the power to regulate economic, financial, political, or other activities that are associated with religious practices.

Article 26: Freedom to Manage Religious Affairs

  • Article 26 guarantees every religious denomination the right to manage its own affairs in matters of religion. This includes the right to establish and maintain institutions for religious purposes, and the right to manage its own property. However, this right is subject to public order, morality, and health, as well as to other provisions of the Constitution.

Article 27: Freedom from Taxation for Religious Purposes

  • Article 27 prohibits the state from compelling any person to pay taxes for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious institution. This means that the state cannot use public funds to support or promote any particular religion, nor can it force individuals to financially support religious institutions.

Article 28: Freedom from Religious Instruction in Educational Institutions

  • Article 28 guarantees the right of all religious denominations to establish and maintain their own educational institutions. It also prohibits the state from providing any religious instruction in public educational institutions funded by the state. However, students attending such institutions are free to receive religious instruction from outside sources, as long as it does not interfere with the educational activities of the institution.

Reports’ Allegations against India


  • It is alleged that the Indian government at the national, state, and local levels promoted and enforced religiously discriminatory policies, including: Laws targeting religious conversion, Interfaith relationships, Ban over wearing of hijabs and cow slaughter
  • This has negatively impacted Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and Adivasis citizens of the country.

Laws of so-called ‘Suppression

  • The report also alleges that the national government continued to suppress critical voices, particularly of religious minorities and those advocating on their behalf through Surveillance, Accusations of Sedition, Demolition of Property, Detention under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Targeted banning of NGOs ex. Missionaries of Charity under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).
  • The continued enforcement of discriminatory laws facilitated a culture of impunity for widespread campaigns of threats and violence by mobs and vigilante groups.

India’s response

  • India has slammed USCIRF for “misrepresenting” facts and described it as an “organisation of particular concern”.
  • The Indian government rejected the biased and inaccurate comments.
  • Foundation of Indian and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) slammed USCIRF for its biased report and failure to acknowledge the cultural and economic significance of cows to Indians.


  • Ever since India gained independence, the Western media have painted a negative picture of the country. Indeed, many did not expect India to last long as a nation. There are countries that are failed states and countries which are engulfed in civil wars, but they do not get much of a mention from British and other Western media. 

Previous cases of such allegations

  • In February 2020, a major daily national declared the North Delhi riots were called the riots a “Hindu nationalist rampage”
  • Also, India is being frequently labelled as ‘Intolerant Democracy’ or depicted as a poor nation. Recent example is the Cartoon from a German newspaper mocking Indian Railway’s infrastructure developments.
  • The BBC Documentary on PM Modi and 2002 Gujarat riots was also a part of this targeting by western media.

Why such reports often falsely target India?

  • Sensationalized news: Negative news stories tend to receive more attention because they can be more emotionally engaging and impactful. For example, a study found that negative news stories receive significantly more engagement on social media than positive news stories.
  • Political biases: Media outlets may have different political affiliations or biases that shape their coverage of certain countries or events. For example, some media outlets may have a pro-Western bias and view India as a less developed or “exotic” country. Additionally, some outlets may have a negative view of Indian government policies or leadership, which can influence their reporting.
  • Complex challenges: India is a large and diverse country with many challenges, including poverty, inequality, and political instability, which can be difficult to report on accurately and without bias.For example, India has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world, with the top 1% of the population holding nearly 60% of the country’s wealth. Additionally, India has a history of caste discrimination and violence, which can be challenging to report on accurately and sensitively.
  • Differing perspectives: Different media outlets may have different perspectives on issues related to India, which can lead to differing coverage.For example, some outlets may focus on India’s economic growth and potential as a major player in the global economy, while others may highlight the country’s challenges and inequalities.Additionally, media outlets from different countries may have different cultural or historical perspectives on India that influence their reporting.
  • Lack of objectivity: There have been instances in the past where these reports have been criticized for being one-sided and lacking objectivity.
  • US lobby against everyone: It is important to note that reports like USCIRF’s are based on the organization’s own assessments.
  • Inherent bias against India: Such allegations are prevalent ever since India attained its Freedom.
  • Self-proclaimed father of democracy: US has infamous for selectively promoting democracy and human rights, and for supporting authoritarian regimes that align with its strategic interests.
  • Anti-regime: Such reports often overlook the efforts made by the present regime in India towards promoting religious tolerance and communal harmony.

Way forward

  • Urgent action: India needs to take prompt and necessary steps to address religious freedom issues and take everyone’s faith in the government and democratic process.
  • Nuanced understanding: International organizations and foreign governments must make a conscious effort to understand the complexities of India’s social, political, and economic landscape before making any recommendations or issuing reports.
  • Avoid sweeping generalizations: It is important to avoid sweeping generalizations and presenting a one-sided view of the situation, which can be detrimental to India’s reputation and lead to misunderstandings.
  • Self-reflection by the US: The US must address its own issues related to religious freedom and human rights violations, and not just sermon other countries.

Countering western media’s allegations

  • India’s historical diversity and pluralism: India has a long history of diversity, pluralism, and peaceful coexistence among different communities.
  • Constitutional guarantees: The Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all citizens, regardless of their religion, caste, or creed.
  • Media as a strong pillar: The country has a vibrant democracy and a free and independent media that regularly scrutinizes the government and its policies. This eliminates the scope for anyone’s oppression.
  • Nation-building: All communities have contributed significantly to the country’s cultural and social fabric. Success of India is often unwelcomed by the US. People should not fall prey to foreign propaganda.


  • It’s important to approach news coverage critically and evaluate the sources and biases behind the stories. This can involve reading articles from a variety of sources, fact-checking claims, and considering the cultural and historical context of the news.
  • EAM S Jaishankar has rightly summarized west’s biasness, “Problem of Europe is world’s problem but problem of world is not problem of Europe”.

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