Dividing the Diaspora

by May 10, 2024Diaspora0 comments

America continues to make ‘unfounded accusations’ about religious freedoms to unbalance the internal political situation in India and complicate the general elections


A certain section of Indian Diaspora in the Western countries seems to have been active collaborating with the Western governments in spreading the narrative that India under prime Minister Narendra Modi is pursuing a communal agenda and there is no secularism in India any more, with Hindus making the religious minorities , particularly the Muslims , second class citizens. The Western media and few branches of the government in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia are legitimising these narratives. So much so that in some select university campuses, there are now demands against those who are studying vedic texts. There are systematic campaigns to divide the Indian Diaspora on the basis of caste, region, and religion. And here, some Indian opposition leaders are lending their support to these campaigns.

Anti-India statements from the western media, critics and partisan Diaspora, often funded by activist anti – businessmen like George Soros seem to be carefully timed to influence the Indian electorate against Prime Minister Narendra Modi now that the country is in the midst of general elections.

There seems to be a lot of merits in the claim of Russia, India’s time-tested friend, that the United States was trying to interfere in India’s parliamentary elections and “unbalance” the internal political situation in the country. In a media briefing, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova also said the US was yet to provide “reliable evidence” of the involvement of Indian citizens in the foiled murder plot against Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

Referring to the US’s report on religious freedom in India, Zakharova said the US lacked understanding of India’s national mentality and history.

“America continues to make ‘unfounded accusations’ about religious freedoms,” RT News quoted Zakharova as saying. Zakharova called it “disrespectful” to India. “The reason (behind the US accusations) is to unbalance the internal political situation in India and complicate the general elections,” she further said.

In its latest report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has criticised India for alleged violations of religious freedom and several other issues. It called for designating India and 16 other nations as “countries of particular concern” for “engaging in or tolerating particularly severe violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief”.

It is in fitness of things that India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in a strong response, has called the report “biased” and said the USCIRF continued to “publish anti-India propaganda” masquerading as part of its annual report.

The Russian official also rubbished allegations by the US that an Indian intelligence official planned to allegedly kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. “According to the information we have, Washington has not yet provided any reliable evidence of the involvement of Indian citizens in the preparation of the murder of a certain Pannun. Speculation on this topic in the absence of evidence is unacceptable,” Zakharova said.

India is proud of its diversities and Hindus , the majority community, consider other religions as “equal”. The narrative that India is becoming a Hindu-India is nothing but a huge myth.

Amid an ongoing debate over the status of the Muslims in India, the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister has published a study this year – with an analysis of global datasets and scenarios – that states that minorities are not “just protected but thriving in India”. On the other hand, it says that the Hindu, Jain and Parsi population in India has shrunk.

According to the paper, titled Share of religious minority – A cross country analysis (1950-2015), “Contrary to the noise in several quarters, a careful analysis of the data shows that minorities are not just protected but indeed thriving in India. This is particularly remarkable given the wider context within the South Asian neighbourhood where the share of the majority religious denomination has increased and minority populations have shrunk alarmingly across countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Afghanistan. India’s performance suggests that there is a conducive environment to foster diversity in the society.”

The study also explains that the Muslim population in India has increased while the percentage of Hindus has dropped over the decades. “In India, the share of the majority Hindu population decreased by 7.82 per cent between 1950 and 2015 (from 84.68 per cent to 78.06 per cent),” it said.

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) is an independent body, which advises the prime minister and the government on economic and related issues. Council member Dr Shamika Ravi and two others – Abraham Jose, a young professional, and Apurv Kumar Mishra, a consultant – have done the analysis and written the paper. They analysed global and country-specific data.

The paper, according to News18 media platform, said: “It is not possible to promote better life outcomes for the disadvantaged sections of society without providing a nurturing environment and societal support through a bottom-up approach. By way of illustration, India is one of the few countries that has a legal definition of minorities and provides constitutionally protected rights for them. The outcomes of these progressive policies and inclusive institutions are reflected in the growing number of minority populations within India.”

“The share of Muslim population in 1950 was 9.84 per cent and increased to 14.09 per cent in 2015 – a 43.15 per cent increase in their share,” the paper said.

“The share of Christian population rose from 2.24 percent to 2.36 percent – an increase of 5.38 percent between 1950 and 2015. The share of Sikh population increased from 1.24 per cent in 1950 to 1.85 per cent in 2015 – a 6.58 percent rise in their share. Even the share of the Buddhist population witnessed a noticeable increase from 0.05 per cent in 1950 to 0.81 per cent,” it added.

The researchers, meanwhile, also found out that the share of Jains decreased from 0.45 per cent in 1950 to 0.36 per cent in 2015. The Parsi population has also witnessed a stark 85 per cent decline, reducing from 0.03 per cent in 1950 to 0.004 per cent in 2015.

The paper further showed how Muslims in India have flourished. Minority populations from across neighbouring nations have also come to India when in trouble, it said.

“It is not surprising, therefore, that minority populations from across the neighborhood come to India during times of duress. India has been a nourishing environment for the Tibetian Buddhists who had to escape from China and have found a comfortable home in India in the last six decades,” the paper said.

“Similarly, Matuas who took refuge in India due to religious persecution in Bangladesh have been assimilated into Indian society. India also hosts a significant population of refugees from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar and Afghanistan. Given its plural, liberal and democratic nature, India has continued its civilisational tradition of harbouring persecuted populations from several countries over the last six decades,” it added.

The paper delved deep into factors related to the global economy and demographic transitions. Explaining the global scenario, it said: “The global economy is in a phase of churn and being closely watched and analysed by economists and policymakers everywhere. There are, however, major demographic transitions that are also underway across countries – but mostly going unnoticed by analysts ranging from economy-watchers to democracy-watchers. These silent transformations have the power to reshape societies and states. Ironically, of the four megatrends whose cascading effects are bringing about these transformations – demography, technology, economy and climate change – the forecasts for demography are the most predictable.”

“Shifting demographic trends are aggravating economic disparity within and between countries, straining governance and fuelling friction between states and people. Political changes are mere symptoms of deeper structural changes that are happening in societies due to a variety of transformations, of which demographic evolution is an important component. The composition of populations in countries around the world is changing along several axes that are well-documented such as age, urbanisation and migration levels,” the paper said.

According to the analysis of multiple datasets by the committee, the share of the majority religious denomination has decreased in four countries while its share has increased in five countries.

“All the Muslim majority countries witnessed an increase in the share of the majority religious denomination except the Maldives, where the share of the majority group (Shafi’i Sunnis) declined by 1.47 per cent,” said the document.

“Among the five non-Muslim majority countries, Myanmar, India and Nepal saw a decline in the share of the majority religious denomination while Sri Lanka and Bhutan saw their share increase. The members of SAARC are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives. The range of the rate change in the share of the majority religion for this region spans from -9.84 per cent for Myanmar (where the share of Theravada Buddhist population fell from 79 to 71 per cent) to 18.55 per cent for Bangladesh (where the Hanafi Muslim witnessed an extraordinary rise from 74 to 88 per cent of the population),” it added.

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