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Published in the 1-15 Jan 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

In India, Hindutva being institutionalised: US report

New Delhi: In a severe indictment of the current policies of the BJP-led NDA government, the United States State Department in its latest annual report on international religious freedom has said that in India there is "a gradual but communal institutionalisation of Hindutva" marked by "politicised inculcation of Hindu religious and cultural norms to the exclusion of other religious norms".

US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage released the report. The report, however, admits that there have been decline in Hindu-Muslim, Hindu-Christian violent incidents but at the same time categorically states "Hindutva, often synonymous with ‘cultural nationalism’, excludes other religious beliefs and fosters religious intolerance". The report termed the present government policies as "a conscious fostering of Hindutva".

Driving home its point, the report says: "Institutionalisation of Hindutva is being manifested by the spread of anti-conversion laws in some states, the rewriting of textbooks to favour Hindu extremist interpretations of history and illegal surveys of Christians that was done in Gujarat."

Defining ‘trishuls’ as "a small sharp object which can cause bodily injury" that report cited the mass distribution of trishuls by Hindu extremist organisation Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The BJP-led Central government "generally respected" the provisions on protection of religious freedom. But, it "sometimes did not act effectively to counter societal attacks against religious minorities", the report pointed out.

Meanwhile, not taking kindly to its sharp criticism, the Bharatiya Janata Party has expressed resentment and displeasure. Vijay Kumar Malhotra, BJP spokesperson said, "The US is not the boss of the world. The United States has no right to talk about Indian political parties."

MG News Desk

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