U.S. Should Pressure India to Curb Hindu Extremism

ICC Note:

In recent years, the growth of Hindu extremism and religious intolerance in India has skyrocketed. This has directly led to millions of religious minorities in India suffering widespread discrimination and, at times, out right persecution at the hands of these extremist groups. Christians, who are considered followers of a foreign religion by Hindu extremists, are among the communities most targeted. According to Open Doors USA, India is the 11th most dangerous country in the world to be a Christians. The U.S. and its allies must do more in their relations with India to curb Hindu extremism and the religious intolerance it creates. 

02/03/2018 India (National Review) – India has been a steady U.S. strategic and economic partner for at least the past decade. It helps maintain political balance in the region, while reforms implemented to boost economic growth hold the promise of lifting millions out of poverty. Flying well below the radar of most mainstream media, however, is an ugly side of India’s success story. Its focus, and ours, on economic reform and innovation is masking the increasingly flagrant and violent harassment — in many cases, clear persecution — of India’s Christian and Muslim minorities.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also belongs to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), widely considered to be the BJP’s parent entity and considered the world’s largest missionary organization. Modi’s rise to power has gone hand in hand with growing Hindu intolerance of Christianity and Islam. Fanatic adherents of radical Hindu nationalism regard both faiths as foreign imports that do not belong on Indian soil.

Prejudice against Muslims and Christians is deeply ingrained in India. Contrary to the Indian constitution, Muslim and Christian dalits, members of the lowest caste in the Hindu hierarchy — are denied government benefits that were intended to compensate for centuries of discrimination in Hindu society. Buddhist and Sikh dalits do receive benefits, including access to education and government employment, because their faiths, unlike Christianity and Islam, did originate in India.

For years, the nation’s Christian and Muslim leaders have been lobbying the government and the supreme court of India to grant Muslim and Christian dalits their constitutional rights as a matter of social justice — but to no avail. In the past year, chronic suspicion and disdain of Christianity and Islam have evolved into outright hostility and aggression. This is happening in the form of mob violence at the grassroots but also at the level of state legislatures, in the form of discriminatory legislation.

During the 2017 Christmas season alone, there were 23 incidents. Most dramatic was the arrest of 30 priests and seminarians singing Christmas carols in Madhya Pradesh state. They were accused of violating the state’s anti-conversion law, which has been on the books since 2013. Similar legislation is in force in seven other states. Eight priests who came to the carolers’ aid were physically assaulted, and their vehicles were set on fire. Police officers reportedly stood by without intervening. That scenario is an all too common. By some accounts, hundreds of anti-Christian incidents have occurred in the past year.

In 2008, in Kandhamal, Odisha State, a Hindu mob killed more than 100 Christians and destroyed more than 300 churches and thousands of homes. Five clearly innocent Christians are still in prison for allegedly murdering a local swami whose death triggered the killings. Left unchecked, Hindu nationalism will continue to grow more violent and claim more victims.

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