India provides 'unprecedented' accommodations to religious minorities: Report

By NT Bureau Published on Jul 29, 2018 03:27 PM IST

New Delhi: The Indian government provides unprecedented religious accommodations to its religious minority population, says a report by a US-based advocacy group, according to which India is a force for stability in the region.

As such, it is critical that the US continues to strengthen relations with India, in order to bring greater stability to the region and prevent the growth of radical Islamist and Communist/Maoist terrorism, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) said in its latest policy brief titled 'India: Democracy in Diversity'.

Released at the historic rotunda of the US Capitol this week, the policy document highlights India's centuries-old status as a multi-religious, multi-ethnic region, and later nation-state, that is both the birthplace of four of the world's religions, as well as a refuge for faith communities fleeing persecution.

The report also details the ways in which the Indian government provides unprecedented religious accommodations to its religious minority population, with more than USD 600 million allotted in 2016-2017 in benefit programs, the allowance for faith-based law for both Muslims and Christians, and how India has had significant minority representation at all levels of government, military, and judiciary.

Highlighting the infrequent nature of interreligious conflict in the country, the report explores the varied root causes - from pecuniary to political, and historical to religious - of the same.

"Though there have not been major riots or attacks targeting religious minorities in India in recent years, there have been reports of individual incidents involving attacks by Hindus on Christians and Muslims," the report acknowledges.

HAF said it unequivocally condemns these attacks and believes that any such violence is unacceptable and contravenes Hindu teachings and India's pluralistic ethos.

India is a force for stability in the region, it said recommending the US continue to "strengthen relations with India in order to bring greater stability to the region and prevent the growth of radical Islamist and Communist/Maoist terrorism that is impacting the lives of innocent civilians, causing domestic unrest, and forcing large scale migrations of Hindu refugees (and other religious minorities) from Pakistan and Bangladesh into India."

"This report is both timely and necessary, as its release coincided with the US State Department's inaugural Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom," said Samir Kalra, managing director of HAF.

"Overall, it seeks to show the broader story of religious freedom and pluralism in India, which is often not reflected in the media or US policy circles," Kalra said.