Archive for the ‘India’ Category

What’s going on in India, the world’s biggest democracy?

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

It’s reassuring to know that the second most populous nation in the world is a democracy. (Although the largest is not.)

But laboring in the area of human rights, problems tend to come to my attention. And what comes with unfailing regularity is news of religious violence and persecution in India. This often takes the form of Hindu extremists attacking Christians and other religious minorities, and India is regularly included in reports from sources such as Voice of the Martyrs. In fact, the U.S. government listed India as a Country of Particular Concern regarding religious freedom during 2002-2004.

The latest report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom mentions improvements by the new government since elections shifted the political landscape in 2004, but finally admits that attacks still occur continually, especially in areas controlled by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

It seems that Indian authorities and police are not taking sufficient actions to stop the attacks, and in fact, sometimes police harass the victims.

(Of course, not all the news is bad. I’ve also noticed that India has officially recognized Falun Gong, the heavily persecuted religious/meditation group originating from China, and the group seems to be doing fairly well there. That is a positive development to contrast with the other points.)

This situation had set the background for me when a new report crossed my desk. This time it was from a Tibetan pro-democracy group. Tibetan activist Tenzin Tsundue was forbidden by Indian authorities from leaving Dharamshala, the home of the Tibetan government-in-exile, until after Chinese leader Hu Jintao’s visit to India is over. The purpose was to prevent him from leading effective demonstrations against the Communist leader.

This represents a preemptive crackdown by the world’s largest democracy as it is visited by the leader of the largest totalitarian state.

Despite this, it appears that India had quite a lively protest during Hu’s visit, with hundreds of peaceful demonstrators calling attention to the repression in their homeland. Unfortunately, at one point a student decided to set himself on fire in protest–he was saved, but the desperation of his act highlights the extreme suffering of Tibetans in a largely indifferent world.

Due to the size and success of the protests, activists actually gave an ironic thank-you to Indian and Chinese authorities for trying to silence the well-known activist Tsundue, because “they have now created hundreds more Tsundues.”

India’s democracy is a major asset in a world that is still divided between freedom and tyranny, and protecting human rights and freedoms there is crucial. If you would like to encourage India’s government to take action and improve in these areas, I will include a link for official contact information.

http://goidirectory.nic.in/