Religion and freedom
India must protect its freedoms, and come down heavily on religious violence
- Religious freedom is of paramount importance, not because it is about religion, but because it is about freedom.
- The characterisation by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) of India as a country of particular concern, the Indian government not only repudiated the report but also ridiculed the USCIRF.
- The U.S. has used arguments of freedom, democracy, tolerance, and transparency as tools in its strategic pursuits, but there is no proof of any uniform or predictable pattern of enforcement of such moral attributes.
- The process can be selective and often arbitrary in spotlighting countries. Mirroring this pattern, India selectively approaches global opinions on itself, embracing and celebrating laudatory ones and rejecting inconvenient ones.
- India advertises itself as a multi-religious democracy and as an adherent to global norms of rule of law. It also aspires to be on the table of global rule making.
- For a country with such stated ambitions, its record on religious freedom as reflected through events of the last one year is deeply disconcerting.
- The catalogue of religious violence, incitement and wrecking of the rule of law in several parts of the country remains an unsettling fact.
- Reputation is important for a country’s economic development and global standing but beyond that instrumental perspective, rule of law and communal harmony are essential for any functioning democracy.