Religious Freedom in India deteriorated in 2018: U.S. Commission

According to United States Commission on International Religious Freedom 2019 report, India saw an “overall deterioration of religious freedom conditions in 2018”. US Commission on International Religious Freedom is a bipartisan, independent federal government commission, created by International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

Key Highlights of Report

  • India continues to remain a Tier II country. It is in same list since 2009.
  • Tier II countries are those in which during 2018 ‘violations engaged in or tolerated by government are serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of systematic, ongoing, and egregious (horrible)’. Other Tier 2 countries are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.
  • India is facing declining religious freedom, apart from increased securitisation and politicisation of religion.
  • It is increasingly becoming difficult to separate religion and politics. It is a tactic which is sometimes intended by those who seek to discriminate against certain religious communities.
  • Over the last decade Minorities conditions have deteriorated in country. The reason is attributed to extremist groups, anti-conversion laws, cow-protection groups, mob lynching, concerns that millions from Assam will be incorrectly left out of NRC (National Register of Citizen) and a denying international NGOs registration.
  • The Chairperson of Commission, Tenzin Dorjee gave a dissenting view. He argued that India is an open society with a robust democratic and judiciary system where religious harmony exists. He cited “positive developments” like communal attacks dropped by 12 % in 2018 from 2017 levels, a 12% increase in budget of Ministry of Minority Affairs and Supreme Court’s push for a 11-point plan to counter mob violence.
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