USCIRF’s latest report regarding India is no more than a nonsensical mishmash of anti-Indian bias and typical western bias, fomented by a liberal-imperialist worldview.
The USCIRF’s latest report and its anti-India stance smacks of an imperialist mindset, a liberal-imperialist fundamentalist worldview which is based on falsities, weaved out of untruth and dyed in biases. It exudes a mentality that is ill at ease with one rising power which is making itself felt and seen globally as a responsible, democratic and dynamic entity. One of the most respected American interpreters of India to the West, Dr David Frawley (Acharya Vamadeva Shastri) for instance, referring to the report, has called for India to set up “its own commission on religious and spiritual freedom, tracking diversity, exposing predatory conversion, judging countries by their ability to preserve ancient and native traditions.” “Monotheism”, Dr Frawley pointed out, “has rarely been a force of tolerance or respect for other views.”
Such a view has been gaining credence across the world’s largest and most vibrant democracy and in the days to come, may well worth be a very crucial option which the government of India or the Indian civil society and academia ought to explore. The entire USCIRF exercise on religious freedom, in fact, reminds one of the words of noted Israeli public intellectual and political philosopher, Yoram Hazony, who has suggested that “liberal-imperialist political ideas have become among the most powerful agents of fomenting intolerance and hate” in the Western world. This can be easily extrapolated to include other parts of the world.
Of course, India has called out the report, saying the USCIRF is itself an organisation of particular concern. A large number of Indians refer to the USCIRF and its report as ‘fake.’ It also does not help the USCIRF, for the world and India to know that its Chairman, Tony Perkins believes that Hindu faith and rituals are “abominations” and has termed Buddhist and Hindu practises as “goofy” and is a committed and vociferous opponent of LGTBQ rights.
However, another USCIRF Commissioner Arunima Bhargava must catch our attention for being perhaps the ring-leader of subversion. In 2016, Arunima Bhargava was the recipient of the ‘Leadership in Government Fellowship’, given out by the Open Society Foundations (OSF) which is supported by George Soros who is an open, vicious and confirmed Modi baiter. On receiving the Fellowship, Bhargava was effusive in her praise of the OSF and had said that it would now give her time, “to reflect and strategise, after ears of feeling a constant need to triage and react quickly within the government.” That she has ‘well’ utilised her time at OSF is evident from her role in the USCIRF. Earlier this year, the Indian Home Ministry had placed Soros’s OSF under its watch-list of NGOs which had violated Indian FCRA regulations. In Davos, in January 2020, Soros, 89, who has vowed to fund the toppling of nationalist governments across the world with particular reference to India, castigated the Indian electorate for electing Modi and referred to the abrogation of Article 370 and the passing of CAA, as a “most frightening setback.” At 89, Soros is perhaps hallucinating that he can destabilise India, but his minion on the USCIRF, it is evident, has acted as his mouthpiece and agenda-pusher.
That the USCIRF has no bearing on the US State Department’s policymaking is known, but even then, the question that the Indian public at large and the Indian intelligentsia, on the whole, are asking is how long will this rigmarole continue? How long will the US State Department absolve itself of any complicity in peddling out such motivated reports while all the while singing paeans to the strategic partnership between the two countries? With a pandemic creating pandemonium across much of the world, with the US in particular affected by it, that policymakers and the likes could find time to churn out a such a sample of unalloyed bogusness, reflects on the priorities of some in the US administration. At a time when the Western media is being flooded with reports of discrimination against African Americans in the US, in the treatment of COVID, it is clearly baffling to see such a spiteful document appear. On the other hand, on the healthcare index and on a number of other indexes during the COVID pandemic, India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is faring far better than many other countries, in terms of its commitment to its citizens and on its commitment to other countries in their struggle against the pandemic.
While deciphering the USCIRF’s report, it is interesting to read excerpts from the dissenting views of the commissioners. Most of them have displayed certain pragmatism, despite their lack of political understanding of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), its historicity, the preponderance of fake narratives in some quarters, and how Indian Marxists and Islamists operate their subversive eco-systems to try and tarnish India, especially Modi internationally. Their dissenting observations also clearly show that on India, the USCIRF has not been able to carry its own Commissioners. Gary L Bauer dissented on the decision of his fellow “Commissioners to recommend India, the world’s largest democracy, for designation as a ‘country of particular concern’ or CPC, placing India in a gallery of rogue nations in which it does not belong. India is our ally…” he noted.
Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee’s dissenting note clearly establishes the vibrant dissenting atmosphere in India. It exposes as false the oft-repeated line by some that “Modi is crushing dissent.” Dorjee, a Tibetan, dissenting from the recommendation of listing India as a CPC, noted that “India is the largest democratic nation in the world, where the CAA has been challenged openly by the opposition Congress Party and lawmakers, civil society, and various groups… By and large, the press freely reported both anti-and pro-CAA voices…The Supreme Court of India has been asked to adjudicate on its constitutionality. India is a free and open democratic society that allows for all possibilities; therefore, India is not a CPC country. As Tibetan refugees, we enjoyed complete religious freedom in India that is non-existent in Tibet and China. Recently, I was on a personal pilgrimage to major Buddhist holy sites in India and saw Hindus, Muslims, and other faiths enjoying religious freedom at their places of worship, shops, and homes. India and the United States are vital strategic partners…”
Commissioner Johnnie Moore spoke of India as governed by a “pristine constitution” and a “tremendous friend and ally of the United States” and hoped “that India’s still young and freewheeling democracy will give way to an ever-brighter future…”. Moore concluded on gushing personal note, “India also happens to be a country that I have loved for all of my adult life. It is a country I love because of its pluralism and because of the transformative impact it has had on my own life through my many visits (and visits to vibrantly religious places in Varanasi, Old Delhi, Amritsar, Dharamsala, Agra, Ajmer, Hyderabad, Kolkata, throughout Kerala, and many other places).”
India under Narendra Modi has emerged as one of the most vibrant, democratic, plural and citizen-centred participative democracy based on a fundamental commitment to equal opportunity and justice for all. India under Modi stands on enlightened values of people first, peoples’ power and people’s empowerment. It upholds both its democratic and civilisational values. A bogus report such as the USCIRF’s, authored by a team whose Chairman is a myopic, short-sighted and politically illiterate public figure and most of whose members are themselves opinionated, de-rooted and half-informed policymakers working for organisations and individuals who have a global ‘liberal’ imperialist agenda, is not equipped to understand or record the reality of Modi’s India.
(The writer is the Director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation)