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International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About USCIRF, key observations, impact on India and India’s response.

Context: The U.S. State Department has released its annual International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report.

What is it?

The annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom, also known as the International Religious Freedom Report, describes the status of religious freedom, government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies promoting religious freedom. The report is a survey of the state of religious freedom across the world.

Observations made on Religious freedom in India:

  1. The report takes note of the change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act(CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
  2. It discusses in detail mob lynchings and anti-conversion laws and related issues.
  3. Lawmakers failed: The report notes, Issues of religiously inspired mob violence, lynching and communal violence were sometimes denied or ignored by lawmakers.
  4. It details incidents of “cow vigilantism” and other types of mob violence.
  5. The report also takes note of the Babri Masjid decision by the Supreme Court and the challenges to the 2018 reversal of a ban on some women entering the Sabarimala temple.

Impact and implications:

The report outlines the U.S. engagement with India on the issues.

USCIRF had, in April, recommended to Secretary of State that the State Department downgrade India’s religious freedom to the lowest grade — ‘Country of Particular Concern (CPC)’. The Secretary of State is not obliged to accept the recommendation.

It recommended that the Trump administration “impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom by freezing those individuals’ assets and/ or barring their entry into the United States citing specific religious freedom violations”.

India’s response:

India has said the USCIRF’s “biased and tendentious” comments against the country were “not new”, but that, on this occasion, “its misrepresentation has reached new levels”.

Note: Details on this issue have been covered in detail previously on:

https://www.insightsonindia.com/2020/04/29/uscirf-2020-annual-report/.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is USCIRF?
  2. What are countries of particular concern?
  3. What is CAA?
  4. What is NRC?
  5. Which state in India has a NRC?

Mains Link:

How successful Indian polity has been in maintaining communal harmony in the state? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.