The title ‘country of particular concern’ is a designation given by the US secretary of state who implements policy formation for external affairs under the international religious freedom act of 1998.
A country that was once an example of unity in diversity has been named a country of particular concern, not once, not twice, but three times in a row. These ongoing accusations against India force us to ask, Is India actually becoming intolerant? With rising extremism in the country and no interference by the government to protect the ones being oppressed, acts like CAA and movements NRC are side-lining a particular community. However, India does not give much importance to USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom) since we have seen in the past that such titles are not much entertained.
Now comes the question of reliability, several Indian-Americans have already termed it as anti-India bias and accuse the annual report to be ignoring the ground reality and the laws by which we govern the country. Ironically, the United States is no saint when it comes to basic rights to religion and race; let alone human rights. Also, USCIRF is a dependent body, so if we critically analyze, the list mentioned by USCIRF is going to consist of nations that are by default involved in a war or can simply accuse the nations who have politically not associated with America. India recently had a rebuttal with the external affairs of the United States after they accused India of indulging in ‘human rights abuses’ which soiled the relations between the two. Over the past few years, India has imposed high tariffs on US companies which have affected those industries; during the Russia-Ukraine war, the American administration had given an open warning stating if “India aligns with the Russians there will be consequences” and if we sum up all of these, it is a natural and tactical move by the American side to play this card. The US is a capitalist economy that cares more about capital than people, which is evident. However, it doesn’t buy them a warranty to exploit minorities just because the administration raising the accusation is inherently flawed.
So after analysis, are the concerns justified? There have been instances where the government has launched schemes for the minorities, helped Muslim women from Triple Talaq, Iftar parties were thrown by many political parties, the government considered all people equal thus saving people from some patriarchal rules laid down by the religious leaders are some of the examples of government initiatives. Still, the core accusations were revolving around the arrests of individuals whose ‘crime’ was that they were vocal about the wrong actions taking place against the minorities. In the end, it doesn’t matter if all the points raised are genuine or out of aggression they are absolutely justified.
Lastly, to see what implications this title will carry? India was not the only country on this list in fact there were 14 other countries including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Russia in this list too, the whole world has realized how unity is a must to have a peaceful life, no one religion is the cause of all problems and no one religion is free of all sins. The World will live in belief in secularism and seeing India fall on this list will affect our image thus making other countries think twice before making deals with our country, especially the Muslim-dominated ones. India should evaluate all aspects and do the needful to make our country a better place. We, as the citizens of India, should also look into the matter and make sure our country is a better place for everyone and make small changes in our activities in order to live peacefully. These lists are merely for the countries to improve themselves and not to shame them, rather than fighting it we should learn and improve, and make our country great again!
By Pranav Jainani, FYBAF