Saturday, August 15, 2009

Anti-Hindu Bias at U.S. Commission -- Aseem Shukla

Perhaps for the first time, the Western Media has posted an article (below) that tells the real scenario in India and with Hindus....

Related posts can be read here:-

Interfaith dialogue: in whose interest?

Don't encroach the Hindu space - Inter-Religious Dialogue, 12-06-2009

Hindu- Vatican dialogue- Will conversions stop??


Anti-Hindu Bias at U.S. Commission

Aug. 14, 2009, Washington Post, Aseem Shukla

This week, the United States Commission on International Religious
Freedom (USCIRF) placed India on its "watch list." By this
designation, India, the largest multi-ethnic and multi-religious
democracy joins a motley cabal comprised of the likes of Afghanistan,
Cuba, Egypt, Somalia and Venezuela. Countries like Bangladesh, that so
recently forced the exodus of thousands of Hindus under an Islamist
government, enjoy higher status with the Commission than India. How is
this possible?

The watch list defines those countries that the USCIRF believes are in
danger of being listed among the worst offenders of religious freedom.
The government of India reacted predictably to this rather dubious
distinction, "regretted" the action, said India guaranteed freedom of
religion and aberrations are dealt "within our legal framework, under
the watchful eye of an independent judiciary and a vigilant media."

A closer look at the India designation, however, shows the
Commission's innate bias, lack of insight, absence of understanding,
and loss of credibility. Worse, putting India on the watch list will
be perceived as a self-defeating and egregious act that needlessly
complicates relations between two diverse, pluralistic and secular

Created by Congress in 1998, the Commission can only advise the State
Department, which has its own list of countries of concern and amiably
ignores the Commission's recommendations. But the Commission's
pronouncements still carry the symbolism of an official government
entity judging the fitness of another's country's human rights record.

There is power in symbolism, and the attention credible human rights
groups bring to a cause gives succor to the oppressed and isolate the
oppressor . But therein lies the rub-- credibility--and the USCIRF, in
its composition, methodology and ideology, is running low on gas.

Let's begin with the India chapter in the USCIRF report itself. In its
11 pages, the document details three specific episodes to justify
slamming India: Riots between Hindus and Muslims in the state of
Gujarat that broke out after a Muslim mob torched a train full of
Hindu pilgrims killing 58 in 2002; riots between Hindus and Christians
that left 40 dead in the state of Orissa in 2008 after a Hindu priest,
long opposed by fanatic missionaries, was murdered; a brief incident
where miscreants attacked "prayer halls" built by the New Life Church
-- a revivalist Protestant group -- that had distributed a pamphlet
denigrating Hindu Gods and Goddesses and allegedly engaged in mass
conversions of Hindus.

These three episodes in a country of a billion condemn an entire nation?

Incredibly, the Commission's India chapter paints a portrait of
minority religions on the run in India, pursued by a rabid Hindu
majority! This in a country whose last President was Muslim, whose
leader of the largest political party is Christian and whose Prime
Minister is Sikh. In contrast, behold the shrill outcry when our own
President Obama was alleged to be Muslim!

A terrible riot that left hundreds of Muslims and Hindus dead and
occurred closer to a decade ago mandates an entire section, but the
ongoing attacks by jihadis in India's Kashmir targeting Hindus;
several recent bombings in Hindu temples carried out by Islamists, and
Hindu temple desecrations in Christian Goa; and an analysis into the
incendiary results of attempts to convert Hindus by coercive means
fail any mention at all.

Indian Americans know the story of the subcontinent, and without an
exploration of these original sins that sparked riots, is to tell half
a story--a problem now wholly the Commission's.

India's history--beginning with the bloody partition of the country by
religion into East Pakistan (1947)/Bangladesh (1971) and Pakistan in
1947 --created a tinderbox of tension. But a land that gave birth to
Hinduism and Buddhism--a Mahatma Gandhi and a syncretic Muslim emperor
like an Akbar centuries before were both defined by these
traditions--offered a unique experiment that sought to replicate what
our own Founding Fathers did here: create a secular, inclusive

That experiment is put to a singularly arduous trial by the
machinations of Pakistan that sees its identity as an Islamic nation
threatened by India's pluralism -- its adventures in Mumbai in 2008
and Kashmir massacres are examples. And a small minority of Indian
Muslims choose the ideology of the Taliban rather than embrace that of
the great Pashtun, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the patriot whose non-violent
struggle against the concept of carving a piece of India into Pakistan
is legendary--reactionary Hindu groups form and trouble brews. It is
in this context that terrible riots too often validate devious
provocateurs--and a point that sadly eludes the USCIRF.

Then there is the explosive issue of coerced conversions in India.
Today, the largest aid donor to India is not the government of any
country. Nearly half a billion dollars are sent to India under the
auspices of Christian missionary organizations. Some of these groups
are involved in truly uplifting work amongst the poorest, but the
underlying subtext for some churches is a bargain: convert and we will
help. The New York Times famously reported on evangelical tsunami aid
organizations disproportionately lavishing help on those communities
that agreed to convert. Legions of converts testify to the pressure
they received in the form of a job, medical aid, education -- if they
just agreed to change their faith. Families are turned against
families and communities -- a potent brew that also raises tensions
that can escalate. And when these evangelical groups proclaim their
work and their scores of new converts couched in colorful videos at
suburban megachurches, the dollars flow and enrich itinerant
missionary mercenaries -- a fact blithely ignored by the Commission.

Examine the makeup of the USCIRF: Six members are Christian, one is
Jewish and one Muslim. Not a single non-Abrahamic faith is
represented. The chair is Vice President of the far-right Federalist
Society, and another commissioner is an executive at the evangelical
Southern Baptist Convention, which publishes material which calls
Hinduism grand festival of Diwali "devil worship."

Finally, Hindu Americans are wondering today if there is quid pro quo
at work. The USCIRF was denied a visa this month to travel to India
for a "fact-finding" trip. But the Commission was clear that it would
not visit Kashmir (because of threats by Muslim terrorists) nor the
Northeast of India where militant Christian terrorists are displacing
Hindus and fighting for separatism. It would not look into Hindu
temple desecrations in Goa and other attacks. It only wanted to visit
Gujarat and Orissa. The Government of India said, "thanks, but no
thanks." The USCIRF was outraged at the denial, and we can only ponder
whether this was payback.

By Aseem Shukla  |  August 14, 2009; 9:57 AM ET Associate Professor in
urologic surgery at the University of Minnesota medical school.
Co-founder and board member of Hindu American Foundation.


One of the best comments
Posted by: vskale | August 15, 2009 1:45 AM

I'm an Indian staying in India and here is my perspective
of this. If you drive through the roads in India you will find many mosques and temples either at the corner of the road or at the middle of the road and the govt does not dare to touch them fearing that it would evoke violent protests.

In my city virtually every mosque has a loud speaker on top of them and my Muslim brethren begin praying at 5:30 am every day and repeat it six to seven times a day and you can hear it 5 miles away as well. Nobody complains and nobody fights. The Hindus block the entire main road during one of their festivals to carry our processions. They too erect stalls besides the roads and play devotional songs at deafening sound levels during the festivities but nobody seems to complain.

Even Muslim Arab countries don't allow such broadcasting.
Do you have such religious freedom in your country ? You would sue anyone who does something like this.

During Ramzaan , In Hyderabad , your would find the roads to the Charminar, a historical monument , blocked so that they can cut goats on the main roads , use the road as praying ground. Neither does the govt nor the people object.

The fact is that Indians adjust to an extent which Americans would never be able to do. They live and let live and those who can't don't return to this country after going abroad for higher studies. 

There has been a lot of foreign direct investment in the city of Hyderabad in the past six years. There are areas in the city where communal riots used to flare up at the slightest provocation. Now they don't. Last year there was a bomb blast near a prominent and important mosque but the situation was peaceful. The people living in that area have found direct or indirect employment due to the FDI in the city. Today they understand that wasting their time fighting means losing an opportunity to earn. Having seen the befits of free market economy, uneducated people are sending their children to US, UK and Australian universities.

Can you explain why the United States of America attacked Iraq and killed thousands of innocent people
, both Iraqis and American soldiers ? Can you publish
how you captured and tortured innocent people after the 9/11 attack ? There was no such knee jerk reaction India against Muslims after the recent terror attacks in Mumbai.

My neighbors and coworkers are Muslims and I'm a
Hindu and we are good friends. During communal riots we express our disappointment and hope that the benefits of
liberalization reaches every corner of Indian society
so that everybody focuses on personal development and
gets a chance to channel their energies to prove themselves by working hard.

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