International Relations

The US seeks sanctions against Indian agencies for violations of religious freedom

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has requested the freezing of assets of Indian government agencies and officials responsible for “severe violations” of religious freedom.

What exactly is the USCIRF Report?

  • The USCIRF report evaluates religious freedom around the world.
  • It presents a comprehensive examination of religious freedom in countries around the world, highlighting topics of concern and giving recommendations for US government action.
  • The report is a vital instrument for raising awareness of religious freedom breaches and pressing for stronger protection of this basic human right.

Allegations against India

(1) Policies

It is claimed that the Indian government advocated and enforced religiously discriminatory policies at the national, state, and municipal levels, including:

  • Religious conversion legislation
  • Interreligious connections
  • Ban on the wearing of hijabs and the slaughter of cows
  • Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and Adivasis have all suffered as a result of this.

(2) Laws of Suppression

According to the report, the national government has continued to silence critical voices, notably those 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)
  • Constitution

India’s reaction

  • India has condemned USCIRF for “misrepresenting” facts and labelled it a “specially concerned organisation.”
  • The biassed and erroneous statements were rejected by the Indian government.
  • The Foundation for Indian and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) chastised USCIRF for its biassed report and failing to recognise cows’ cultural and economic importance to Indians.

Why do such allegations frequently falsely target India?

  • Lack of objectivity: In the past, these reports have been chastised for being one-sided and lacking objectivity.
  • It is crucial to note that reports such as USCIRF’s are based on the organization’s own assessments.
  • Such claims have been levelled against India since the country’s independence.
  • The self-proclaimed father of democracy: the United States is notorious for selectively promoting democracy and human rights, as well as supporting authoritarian regimes that align with its strategic objectives.
  • Anti-regime: Such reports frequently neglect the current regime’s efforts in India to promote religious tolerance and communal harmony.

Way ahead

  • Urgent action is required: India must take immediate and essential steps to resolve religious freedom challenges and restore faith in the government and democratic process.
  • Nuanced understanding: Before making recommendations or issuing findings, international organisations and foreign governments must make a concerted effort to comprehend the nuances of India’s social, political, and economic milieu.
  • Avoid broad generalisations: It is critical to avoid broad generalisations and providing a one-sided picture of the problem, which might harm India’s reputation and cause misunderstandings.
  • Self-reflection by the United States: The United States must address its own difficulties of religious freedom and human rights transgressions, rather than simply lecturing other countries.

@the end

  • History of diversity and pluralism in India: India has a long history of diversity, pluralism, and peaceful cohabitation among many communities.
  • Provides of the Constitution: The Constitution provides fundamental rights to all citizens, regardless of religion, caste, or creed.
  • The media is a strong pillar of the country’s democracy, and it has a free and independent media that routinely scrutinises the government and its policies.
  • Nation-building: All communities have made major contributions to the country’s cultural and social fabric. The success of India is frequently frowned upon by the United States. People should not be swayed by foreign propaganda.
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