As per a report published by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), an independent bipartisan wing of the United States Congress, the secular nature of India is eroding due to the rise of Hindutva in the country. The report titled “India: Religious Freedom Issues”, which can be read here, states, “Religious freedom is explicitly protected under its constitution. Hindus account for a vast majority (nearly four-fifths) of the country’s populace. Hindu nationalism has been a rising political force in recent decades, by many accounts eroding India’s secular nature and leading to new assaults on the country’s religious freedoms.”
The report makes use of multiple US and Indian government resources, in addition to liberal media outlets which their own President calls ‘Fake News’ and quotes various Indians including senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, to further its narrative. The report only takes into account the opinions of liberals to reach its conclusions and a contrarian point of view finds no place in its pages. At a time when the US is itself so divided as a country, perhaps their Congress will be better advised to focus on the rise of Neo-Nazis and various political leaders and vast sections of their media openly supporting violent organizations like the Antifa.
Most conspicuously, the report cites S.M. Mushrif when it states, “In 2016, Maharashtra’s former senior-most police official reportedly called for banning the RSS as “the country’s largest terror organization.” Mushrif was one of the individuals who had attended the inauguration event of the book, ’26/11: RSS ki Saazish?’. Interestingly the book insinuates that the RSS conspired with CIA and Mossad to perpetuate the horror in Mumbai. It is interesting that the CRS accepts the assertions of a man as gospel truth who appears to have endorsed a book that blames the top US intelligence agency for the terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008.
The CRS also appears to harbour a special grudge against anti-conversion laws. Its report says, “According to USCIRF, although these laws have resulted in few arrests and no convictions, they “have created a hostile atmosphere for religious minorities, particularly Christians,” and “Christian communities have long reported harassment and violent attacks in the states that have adopted anti-conversion laws,” largely as reaction to perceive proselytizing activities.” It also cites the annual report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which states, “Advocate for the central Indian government to press states with anti-conversion and anti-cow slaughter laws to repeal or amend them to conform with international human rights standards.”
The CRS would be well reminded that every nation has a right to protect itself from demographic invasion and drastic demographic shifts cause great damage to the social fabric of a society, which are often irreparable. And Hinduism, unlike the Abrahamic faiths, does not have proselytizing as one of its integral tenets, thus making such provisions necessary to protect itself against such aggressive faith systems.
The report says of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which would grant citizenship rights to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries, “If enacted, it thus could violate the Indian Constitution’s equal protection provisions.” Perhaps the CRS is not aware of Indian history and the Indian subcontinent. India was partitioned on the basis of religious faith, Pakistan and Bangladesh were formed as a consequence. We, as a country, do not owe citizenship rights to those whose ancestors participated in the partition of the Indian nation as they were granted a great chunk of land for themselves and the generations to come. And people of Indic faiths are persecuted in those countries to this day. Thus, it only makes sense that only persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are given citizenship rights should they so desire.
The report also raises concerns about the crackdown on NGOs that receive foreign funds from the current administration. It says, “Human rights watchdogs have found their activities constrained under the Modi government, and they express concerns about Modi’s commitment to minority rights, his past willingness to tolerate suppression of free expression, and the vigour with which some of his supporters have quashed dissent.” The NDA government has shutdown thousand of NGOs for non-compliance with the FCRA laws.
As we have documented in our ‘Demystifying Civil Society’ series, NGOs that receive foreign contributions from abroad are often involved in political activism in the country and other such contentious issues of great social significance. Under such circumstances, it is of critical importance that the Indian government monitors such NGOs to ensure that foreign elements are not destabilizing Indian society. It is also crucial to mention that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also blamed US-funded NGOs for the protests against the Koodankulam Nuclear Project.
The inherent biases of the report is revealed by the fact that Muslim intolerance is completely ignored. It is commonplace in India for Hindu festivals to be attacked and yet not a single account of Muslim atrocity against Hindus finds mention when it rakes up the issue of mob lynching. When the report raises the issue of cow vigilantism, it fails to appreciate the menace of cattle smuggling and how poor farmers are robbed of their livelihood by these criminals who often take up arms against law enforcement authorities. When it raises the issue of the campaign against ‘Love Jihad’, it fails to take into account the fact that there is strong evidence which suggests that radical Islamic organizations like the PFI are involved in a concerted campaign to brainwash Hindu women and convert them to Islam.
The response of the Indian government to such biased reports thus far has been, “India does not take cognizance of internal reports of a foreign country.” And it is the correct stance to adopt in response to an internal report of a country that prides itself in moralizing without holding itself to the same standards. More importantly, the report is a relic of the establishment that still occupies most corridors of power in the US despite Donald Trump’s election to power. President Trump has been a pleasant departure from the constant patronizing that came with Barack Obama.