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India Will Never Be Great Until It Protects Religious Freedom

May 2, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Five years ago, Narendra Modi’s election victory sparked
hope for an Indian economic renaissance. The world’s second
most populous nation would follow China’s growth path, the
experts said, and provide a democratic alternative to the
repressive “Beijing Consensus.” Modi was anointed the
Indian Ronald Reagan.

However, Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have proven a
great disappointment. Modi is more pro-business than he is free
market. Worse, he believes in Hindu nationalism far more than
capitalism, and has failed to combat the steady rise in religious
intolerance. When younger, he was active in the Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, a paramilitary Hindu nationalist group.
While heading the government of Gujarat state, he presided over the
massacre of as many as 2,000 Muslims in a spasm of sectarian
violence. His culpability was suspected but unproven, as key
evidence disappeared.

Most importantly, over the last five years, he’s done
little to dissuade BJP-controlled states and BJP-inspired mobs from
infringing on religious liberty and attacking minorities.

Hindu nationalist mobs
there are increasingly targeting Muslims, Dalits, and especially
Christians.

India has long ranked among the most dangerous nations for
religious minorities. The U.S. Commission on International
Religious Freedom’s newly released 2019 report notes that
Indian religious liberty “continued in a downward
trend.” A third of all states restricted religious conversion
and/or trade in cattle; mobs targeted Christians (who tend to
proselytize) and Muslims (who dominate the beef, dairy, and leather
trades). USCIRF cites “the government’s allowance and
encouragement of mob violence against religious
minorities—that have facilitated an egregious and ongoing
campaign of violence, intimidation, and harassment against
non-Hindu and lower-caste Hindu minorities.” Warned the
Commission, “India’s history as a multicultural and
multi-religious society remained threatened by an increasingly
exclusionary conception of national identity based on
religion.”

The State Department notes the role of private vigilantism:
“Religious minority communities felt increasingly vulnerable
due to Hindu nationalist groups engaging in violence against
non-Hindu individuals and their places of worship.” Those
involved in cattle businesses are at increasing risk. Human Rights
Watch recently concluded: “Between May 2015 and December
2018, at least 44 people—36 of them Muslims—were killed
across 12 Indian states. Over that same period, around 280 people
were injured in over 100 different incidents across 20
states.” Yet in many cases, the government failed to
prosecute anyone, even murderers.

Christians make up a small percentage of the population, and
thus account for a proportionately smaller share of casualties of
religious intolerance. However, Hindu hostility is often virulent:
a decade ago, mobs in the state of Orissa killed scores of
Christians, causing tens of thousands of others to flee. Today,
persecution is a violent constant.

Unfortunately, the latest legislative election has inflamed
Hindu nationalism. The Religious …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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