05/01/2020 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – India. It’s the first time that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended that the Department of State list India as a Country of Particular Concern. They are completely right in doing so.
For years, Prime Minister Modi’s harsh rule has led India down the road of religious bigotry directed at the nation’s religious minorities. Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and other religious minorities have had their rights stripped away throughout India through the anti-forced conversion laws (now enforced in twelve states), and the Citizenship Amendment Act which limits access to government programs on the basis of religious identity.
The Modi regime and its allies openly compare religious minorities to termites eating away at the foundations of India—a blatant attack on the kind of diversity that used to be celebrated in the land of Ghandi. Modi’s brand of radical Hindu nationalism, which cites the Nazi movement as an inspiration, undercuts the fundamental principles on which the secular state of India was founded in 1947. This philosophy, needless to say, is destructive to India’s societal and political health.
The radical Hindutva philosophy of Modi and his followers consistently lumps all Muslims together into a single category of terrorists and rails against them as enemies of the state. The Modi regime remain complicit as religious bigotry inflames the country. They refuse to publicly condemn attacks against Christians and propose unconstitutional laws, such as the anti forced conversion laws that directly inhibit free speech, freedom expression, and freedom of religion.
With the CPC recommendation from USCIRF, India has been handed a golden opportunity. Now is the time to act and reverse the tide that has been set in motion. India can take significant steps in cultivating healthy foundations for religious, ethnic, and societal pluralism. The Modi regime should take charge and lead with the values that made India the country that so many around the world admired as a bastion of religious diversity.
The Modi regime should publicly condemn Hindutva ideology and radical nationalist organizations like the RSS and implement a system of reforms for the BJP. The regime should invest in elements within civil society to foster conversation and dialogue between different religious groups and cultivate healthy institutions for religious pluralism. The Modi regime should oust religious bigotry that prevents non-Hindus from receiving government benefits.
Instituting these reforms and pushing to cultivate stronger religious pluralism will cultivate the groundwork for healing within the Indian society and once again foster the religious diversity upon which India was founded.
India has an opportunity. They shouldn’t miss it.
Matias Perttula serves as the Advocacy Director for International Christian Concern where he leads the government relations efforts to mobilize the US government to address issues of persecution in countries where religious minorities are oppressed and the freedom of religion is in decline.