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India’s shaded flip from model of non secular pluralism to cautionary account

(RNS) — Born in India, I’ve spent most of my life within the US, including 20 years in academia writing about faith in The US. For years, I imagined a “at some point” challenge to jot down a book comparing and contrasting my two dwelling countries’ non secular landscapes. Two of the field’s ideal democracies,…

India’s shaded flip from model of non secular pluralism to cautionary account

(RNS) — Born in India, I’ve spent most of my life within the US, including 20 years in academia writing about faith in The US. For years, I imagined a “at some point” challenge to jot down a book comparing and contrasting my two dwelling countries’ non secular landscapes. Two of the field’s ideal democracies, they are every officially secular while also being dominated by one faith community that wields nearly your whole valid and social vitality: Christians within the US, Hindus in India.

India, I as soon as thought, may perchance maybe maybe offer American citizens another model of non secular pluralism. While removed from having a ideally suited file on non secular liberty, in its 75 years the Hindu-majority nation has had a Sikh high minister and plenty of Muslim presidents, with smartly-liked film and sports stars of all non secular backgrounds. The U.S., in almost 250 years, has had most efficient Christian heads of instruct, all but two of them Protestant. That you just may perchance perchance well presumably also nearly depend our minority-faith film stars on one hand.

My dream of that perceive has extinct in new years, because India looks this day less admire a model than a cautionary account. Top Minister Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist elected in 2014 and now in his 2nd term, has made India an an increasing form of spirited instruct to be a non secular minority.


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On the institutional stage, the Citizen Amendment Act challenges Muslims’ Indian citizenship; the authorities has also shown a undeniable pattern of staying restful when communal violence occurs. On the societal stage, Hindu mobs own confused non secular minorities on holidays much like Eid al-Fitr and Maundy Thursday. On the actual person stage, there are makes an are attempting to alter what other individuals exercise by imposing Hinduism’s dietary standards on all Indians. 

When one among my cousins in Mumbai attended a Catholic college within the 1970s and 1980s, his circle of pals incorporated other individuals of varied religions — Hindus, Muslims and Parsis, amongst others. They would traipse to 1 another’s houses and to 1 another’s houses of admire — even to hope, if there used to be an examination rising!

When this identical community of pals gathers this day, they focus on in regards to the true fact that their youngsters, who support faculties with stunning moreover-known non secular diversity, don’t loiter around with formative years of other religions. On the new time’s Hindu formative years would no longer dream of going to a mosque; the Muslim formative years never think praying at a Hindu temple. “All of us agree, it’s in actuality sad,” my cousin tells me.

In Modi’s India, as within the U.S. political stunning, the tradition is go up in nationalism, and specifically within the manufacture of a nationwide identification tied to faith. As a exchange of the model I envisioned years ago, India has became an object lesson in what may perchance maybe maybe own took instruct if Donald Trump had been re-elected — and may perchance maybe maybe nonetheless nonetheless happen, if he or another leader from The US’s theocratic stunning wing is elected in 2024.

Members of JK Awami Aawaz Party hold placards as they take part in a protest against minority killings, in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Thursday, June 2, 2022. Assailants fatally shot a Hindu bank manager in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Thursday, said police, who blamed militants fighting against Indian rule for the attack. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)

Members of JK Awami Aawaz Birthday party support placards as they intention finish part in a direct in opposition to minority killings, in Srinagar, Indian -ontrolled Kashmir, Thursday, June 2, 2022. Assailants fatally shot a Hindu bank manager in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Thursday, talked about police, who blamed militants combating in opposition to Indian rule for the attack. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)

For somebody who writes about white Christian privilege, who has examined the historical and valid panorama of the U.S., the parallels are straightforward to detect. India is Hindu admire the US is Christian: officially no longer so in its founding documents but with a historical past of instruct-sanctioned violence in opposition to non secular minorities and the bulk faith’s privilege embedded deeply within the laws, mores and tradition.

I’m no longer arguing that Hindus in India never journey discrimination or that no person within the U.S. has ever been focused for being Christian. Nevertheless vitality lies with the bulk and within the valid and social infrastructure it has built.

Indian American Hindus know what it feels admire to be discriminated in opposition to. We’ve seen our mandirs vandalized. We’ve heard our faith ridiculed and trivialized. And we own now suffered the indignities and marginalization that form our on a regular foundation lives as non-white and non-Christian American citizens. When you happen to’ve been treated much like you may perchance perchance well presumably also own divided loyalties due to this of your faith, you perceive what Indian Muslims, Sikhs and Christians are experiencing.

Given which own, it’s incumbent on Indian American citizens to intention finish a undeniable-eyed search at what’s occurring in India. Now we must forever intention finish the blinders of nostalgia — finish seeing most efficient the India we left within the 1970s, ’80s or ’90s. Now we must forever act on the classes of our journey in The US and gawk ourselves in India’s non secular minorities.

Many Indian American Hindus own sturdy transnational ties. Now we own household there, are keen about diasporic politics, own investments in India or finish linked via philanthropy and remittances. All of us own a accountability to exert our vitality in give a exercise to of non secular minorities in India. 

When you happen to’re in opposition to states admire Georgia purging minority voters from the rolls, you own to be stunning as packed with life when Assam purges 2 million Muslims from its nationwide registry. When you happen to received’t store at Abercrombie & Fitch or Hobby Foyer due to this of their histories of non secular discrimination, you’d larger focus on up when Indian faculties pressure girls to rep a exchange from carrying hijab and going to class.


RELATED: Dispute over mosque turns into non secular flashpoint in India


In immediate, ought to you’re someone within the Hindu diaspora who has financial or social vitality and likewise you don’t focus on up in opposition to instruct-sanctioned violence and discrimination in India, you may perchance perchance well presumably also as effectively be taking half in it. When you happen to’re in opposition to discrimination here, then you definately’ve bought to be in opposition to discrimination there.

On the uncover time, many members fright in regards to the inability of American democracy, and in particular in regards to the solutions that white Christian nationalists in actuality feel emboldened to chat about going help to segregation, focused on immigrants and restoring an The US where LGBTQ other individuals had been marginalized and girls “knew their instruct.”

Now we must forever fright moreover-known about Hindu nationalism in Modi’s India. And we own now to be stunning as keen about steering sure of that shaded future — sooner than it’s too late for every our democracies.

This column is produced by Religion News Provider with give a exercise to from the Guru Krupa Basis.

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