From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : USCIRF Report
Mains level : Religious freedoms allegations on India
- The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has announced that it will hold a hearing on religious freedom in India on September 20.
- India has previously rejected USCIRF reports that alleged violations of religious freedom in the country.
What is the USCIRF Report?
- 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.
- The report is an important tool for raising awareness of violations of religious freedom and advocating for greater protection of this fundamental human right.
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.
(2) Laws of 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 / Harassment / Cow Vigilantism
- Accusation 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)
- 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.
- The 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.
Why such reports often falsely target India?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.