US religious freedom report: Selective in its approach

Even After more than 6 decades of our independence a section of elites in our country still looks to west as our masters and their words are being considered as the basis for our policy making. The customary US religious freedom report is one of them which excite lot of media personnel and elites in India every year and they never debate on the merits of this report in global perspective but feel happy to draw inferences for their ideological and political motives on domestic front. This group in India waits eagerly for this US report to get a stick in their hand to beat with to their ideological rivals. As a ritual every year this so called US religious freedom report comes out with few recommendations and strictures on India which sounds like a melodious music to the ears of few section of people in country. In its annual report of religious freedom this US department presented such a situation which was very much anticipated and nothing new comes out of this report. It sounds nothing more than an extension of US foreign policy and arm twisting method of this so called human rights protector giant in selective manner to achieve its political goals rather than resolve to change the whole discourse of the debate of Human rights. The US religious freedom report keeps India in tier 2 category with those nations where efforts not being done to stop the systematic violations of religious freedom and it is necessary to warn them about their grave situation to put them in this category and India the most plural, secular as its inherent tradition falls short on the parameters of religious freedom in the so called US religious freedom report. Recommendation to continue the policy to deny the Visa to the Gujarat chief Minister Narendra Modi to the US, in itself tells the story that this report is nothing about religious freedom but loaded with perception rather than substance. This report talks on this matter the same way as political detractors of Narendra Modi talks. This similarity raises two suspicion in minds either forces who are launching baseless attacks against Gujarat chief Minister for more than one decade have more access to the so called religious freedom commission in comparison to others who are never been allowed to put their argument before this commission and this game of one sided report is going on for almost one decade without interruption, or those groups who are raising the issue of Gujarat riots and have almost converted it in to a Modi hater cottage industry are those people who in some way or the other suits to the foreign policy of USA which want to patronize them to serve its own purpose . In its religious freedom report it makes some sweeping remarks on the situation of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh but never talks about any punitive measures against the state heads of these countries who are the mute spectator of the ethnic cleansing of its minorities in general and Hindus in particular. This report has never recommended any hard measures for these states to push them to stop these killings or put a break on this systematic annihilation of one community of the country. This religious freedom report never recommended the state department of their so called great democracy to deny the visa to Asif Ali Jardari or Sheikh Hasina against their dismal religious freedom record. They will never do it because it does not suit their grand design of foreign policy. USA knows it very well that Pakistan is the source of terrorism and pivotal to the religious fanaticism not only in South Asia but across the world but ever this religious freedom commission recommended its state department to deny the visa to its state head. The situation in Bangladesh is no more different. The known writer and Human Rights activist in USA Dr Richard Benkin has not only written a book on the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh but time and again he raised this issue with several political leaders in his country and gave testimony before several house panels of its government with his hard evidences on the ground of the persecution of Hindus and systematic annihilation of Hindus with clear consent of state and authorities in Bangladesh but in last year’s we have not seen any mention of this hard work in any of the religious freedom report . Instead of that in this year’s report we have found only ordinary and general remark on the situation of Hindus in Bangladesh. The issue of the persecution of Bahai’s in Iran has the same fate in religious freedom report from USA. The elaborate discussion of this issue is bthere and in its annexture it named those Bahai’s who have been arrested in last few years but why this pro active and sensitive religious freedom commission don’t recommend its state department to deny the visa to the president of Iran Mahmoud Ahmedinejad on the sustained policy of minority persecution and state sponsored holocaust denial . Iranian president every year go to USA and address the UN summit and before the state heads of the entire world call upon them to destroy the Israel from the world map but not only others listen to them but embolden him to go for his ambitious nuclear programme. The religious freedom commission of USA needs to be more mature and inclusive to consult other stake holders and organizations other than left leaning organizations and pro evangelical NGO’s who mix the facts with myths according to their convenience. For every year in its religious freedom report US commission criticize the curb on forceful, allured and deceitful conversion in India. It has been a contentious issue in India since the days of British colony and if religious freedom commission is honestly believes to arrest this problem they should initiate a debate on the whole concept of religious conversion in the name of religious freedom. In the name of religious freedom no religion should be allowed to impose its will on others and pressurized to be on board with one religion and act accordingly. Since time immemorial India has followed the doctrine of “There is one truth said by sages in various ways” not the doctrine of “There is only one truth and the only one way of salvation”. Religious freedom report of US seems handicapped on several fronts and its officials should be more open and truly free in their approach to develop a mechanism to gather more accurate reports rather than depend on those evangelical and left leaning groups who are selective in their approach. Religious freedom commission needs to treat India with more respect. India is a country where religious freedom, democracy and pluralism have been translated into action in its true spirit and it needs to be recognized.

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