From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : SHI Report
Mains level : Religious intoleranc issue
In 2020, India has been ranked first in the Social Hostilities Index (SHI) released by US think-tank Pew Research Center.
What is Social Hostilities Index (SHI)?
- SHI measures acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organisations or groups in society.
- The SHI measures acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organizations or groups.
- The index comprises 13 metrics, including religion-related armed conflict or terrorism and mob or sectarian violence.
- Questions used to compute the SHI included whether the country saw violence motivated by religious hatred or bias, whether individuals faced harassment or intimidation motivated by religious hatred or bias and whether there was mob violence against those of particular religious groups.
How bad has India fared?
- At 9.4 out of a maximum possible score of 10, India’s SHI in 2020 was worse than neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan, and a further increase in its own index value for 2019, the Pew data showed.
- India has faced severe backlash due to its crackdown on a ‘religious’ congregation held in New Delhi defying the COVID pandemic.
Other components: Government Restrictions Index (GRI)
- India much better on a second index: the Government Restrictions Index (GRI).
- This index looks at laws, policies and state actions restricting religious beliefs and practices.
- China ranked the worst, with a score of 9.3.
- India’s 34th rank was enough to categorize it among countries with “high” levels of such government restrictions.
- The GRI comprises 20 measures, including efforts by governments to ban particular faiths, prohibit conversion, limit preaching or give preferential treatment to one or more religious groups
Official data for substantiation
- By India’s own official crime statistics, the picture is more mixed.
- According to police data, religious riots for which cases were filed rose substantially in 2020, and declined again in 2021.
- But there have been significant variations over time, and the numbers are too low as a share of overall rioting incidents to indicate a definitive trend.
- Moreover, the home ministry no longer provides data on “communal incidents”, and the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) now only publishes data on religious “riots”.