What's the article about?
- It talks about the findings of the recent report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
- GS2: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation; Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes;
- The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recently released its 2023 Annual Report, which highlights the status of religious freedom across the globe during 2022.
- For the fourth consecutive year it has advised that the US administration should designate India as a ‘Country of Particular Concern,’ despite this recommendation not having been accepted since 2020.
- It called India “biased and motivated”.
- India categorically rejected the findings of the report and asked USCIRF to develop a better understanding of India, its plurality and its democratic ethos.
What is USCIRF?
- It is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
- Its mandate is to monitor religious freedom violations globally and make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress.
- Its recommendations are not binding on the US Government.
- The government’s stern reaction is understandable, and is in line with its response to such reports over the last two decades, since the USCIRF began to publish its findings.
- The process the USCIRF follows is non-inclusive, and the fact that it does not study the state of religious freedoms inside the U.S., suggests a double standard.
- Moreover, its recommendations hold no sway within India, and are meant only for the U.S. government to deliberate on, and accept or dismiss.
- Either way, there is little need for or utility to New Delhi’s public responses, which make it sound defensive and do not actually repair the reputational damage to India as a secular, inclusive and pluralistic democracy.
- Given the detailed and pointed accusations, however, the Centre may well consider an internal review of its conduct and the direction it hopes to lead India in, on issues such as religious freedoms and rights.
- Eventually, any government’s duty is not in achieving a perfect score in a survey run abroad, but rather in burnishing its record of delivering justice, equality and security to its citizens back home.
- The methodology used by the USCIRF is not transparent nor open to the public, and its findings are solely based on a certain individual's misunderstanding of India. Despite these facts, the Indian government ought to examine its policies regarding religious freedom in India.