Home Global Village “Saffronization” of India: US Federal Commission Report

“Saffronization” of India: US Federal Commission Report

Saffronization
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News Analysis |

Religious freedom conditions witnessed a “downward trend” in India last year, as Hindu-nationalist groups sought to “saffronize” it through violence, intimidation, and harassment of non-Hindus and Hindu Dalits, a US federal government-appointed commission has alleged.

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its latest report has placed India in the Tier 2 countries of particular concern along with Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.

“Conditions for religious minorities have deteriorated over the last decade due to a multifaceted campaign by Hindu-nationalist groups like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sang (RSS), Sangh Parivar, and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) to alienate non-Hindus or lower-caste Hindus,” the USCIRF said.

This helps them to polarize society and convert animosity into votes and popular support. It is through such perception management that often Hindutva militants get away with horrific atrocities and eventually are hailed as “guardians” of Indian Hindus.

Saffronisation or Saffronization is an Indian political neologism (named after the saffron robes worn by Hindu sannyasis) used by critics and others to refer to the policies of right-wing Hindu nationalists (Hindutva) that seek to recall and glorify ancient Hindu cultural history.

“The victims of this campaign include Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains, as well as Dalit Hindus, who belong to the lowest rung in the Hindu caste system,” the USCIRF said in its latest annual report on international religious freedom.

“These groups face challenges ranging from acts of violence or intimidation, to the loss of political power, to increasing feelings of disenfranchisement and otherness,” it said. “India’s history as a multicultural and multi-religious society remained threatened by an increasingly exclusionary conception of national identity based on religion. During the year, Hindu-nationalist groups sought to ‘saffronise’ India through violence, intimidation, and harassment against non-Hindus and Hindu Dalits,” it said.

Read more: BJP condemns Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary celebrations

Approximately one-third of state governments enforced anti-conversion and/or anti-cow slaughter laws against non-Hindus, and mobs engaged in violence against Muslims or Dalits whose families have been engaged in the dairy, leather, or beef trades for generations, and against Christians for proselytizing, it said.

“Cow protection” lynch mobs killed at least 10 victims in 2017. Forced conversions of non-Hindus to Hinduism through “homecoming” ceremonies (ghar wapsi) were reported, and rules on the registration of foreign-funded NGOs were used discriminatorily against religious minority groups, the report said.

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its latest report has placed India in the Tier 2 countries of particular concern along with Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.

The report was highly critical of the current BJP Prime Minister Narendar Modi.  “At the federal level, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made statements decrying mob violence, but members of his own political party have affiliations with Hindu extremist groups and many have used discriminatory language about religious minorities,” the report alleged.

The worsening conditions, said the USCIRF, impacted Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. The remaining 19 states remained relatively free for religious minorities, the report said. Based on the concerns, this year’s report placed India in Tier 2 for “engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations.”

Read more: Yogi Adityanath responds as war of words over Taj Mahal escalates

The report referred to violent protests over the film Padmaavat, blaming them on “Hindu extremist groups”. Interestingly, the report speaks of groups being agitated over allegations that Padmaavat depicted “a Hindu queen having a romantic daydream about a Muslim king”, when what really angered protestors was the movie showing a Muslim king fantasizing about their “revered” queen.

In its report, the USCIRF has urged the US government to integrate concern for religious freedom into bilateral discussions with India, including the framework of future Strategic Dialogues, at both the federal and state levels. It also urged the US government to press the Indian government to allow the USCIRF to visit the country and to invite the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to visit India.

The response to the report has been mixed. Hindutva activists and Indian rightwing circles have decried the report as fake and “against Hinduism”. However other neutral experts have also criticized the report for being too soft on the Hindutva regime, which is actively supporting and protecting Hindutva terrorists, due to vested interests.

The remaining 19 states remained relatively free for religious minorities, the report said. Based on the concerns, this year’s report placed India in Tier 2 for “engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations.”

With the rise of the Hindutva fundamentalist BJP to power in 2014, Hindutva militants have become prominent in most parts of India. These brutal militants have enacted savage murders of mainly Muslims on various reasons such as “Gau Raksha” (Cow protection) and “Love Jihad”.

Read more: Are Hindu women being radicalized by RSS?

On account of the brutal killings of Muslims – from Mohammed Akhlaq (on September 28th, 2015) to Ahmed Bashir (on January 8th, 2018) – the minority community feels insecurity in every part of the country. The roots of this hate lie in the rise of extremist Hindutva thought and the machinations of the British colonial masters.

Most Hindutva extremists spread polarization by exerting hatred within the Indian high caste Hindus against other minority in India. The extremists compare the Muslim population of India with their “archenemy “Pakistan, Christians as “agents of the West”, Sikhs as “Khalistani agents” and secularists as “Maoists”. This helps them to polarize society and convert animosity into votes and popular support. It is through such perception management that often Hindutva militants get away with horrific atrocities and eventually are hailed as “guardians” of Indian Hindus.


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1 COMMENT

  1. Saffronisation, what’s wrong with you dude. US appointed a commission to study Saffronisation of India. Hahahaha

    Why do you hate Hindus so much, your URL says GlobalVillage so I am sure you are Indian ( )😂. So let’s be analytical and talk with facts.

    1. Where is the report you have mentioned.
    2. Who is the head of the commission.
    3. For sure (lynch + ing) = murder (crime). But you only bothered to record or mention 10, what about the other hate crimes which results in 1000+ deaths every year.
    4. Ok, you mean people wearing saffron are mass murderer, so when did you see a mob of saffron armed men/women burning cities.
    5. How can you be so sure that commission is not partial.
    6. How can you be so sure that reports (which you have not shared) are genuine.
    7. How can you be so sure dalits, shiks, jains, Muslims + every non hindu is looked down by Hindus.
    8. If it’s really happening (which is not), what have you done (apart from writing this non factual article) to stop Saffronisation.

    Dear writer human brain is a product of billions years so please use it (if you have). And please don’t twist the facts to support your Saffronisation theory.

    I know you will delete my comment, but Happy Diwali anyway.

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