Does US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) have any moral right to monitor religious freedom in India?
Sonal Joshi
May 6, 2006

Have you ever tried to construct a Hindu temple in America? If you did, you will know the degree of religious freedom in America. Religious freedom does not depend on some superficial laws. It depends on the attitude, bias and feeling of the majority in any country. That is where America provides little freedom to non-Christian and non-Jewish religions. Even today Sikhs in America are many times branded as members of Al-Queda because of their turban and bear and so on. When I was studying in a famous University of Southern United States, every few days I encountered Christian neo-cons who tried to convince me by any means that their God is better than mine. After interacting with these people who tried to convert me by hook or crook I felt sad about the word ‘Religion’ and ‘God’.

I studied in Catholic school in Calcutta, India (Kolkata). There I saw the real abuse of religious rights. Poor, lower caste, economically disadvantages people in the rural Indian Hindus were offered money, chance to get their children educated for free with the upper caste Hindus, free clothing, and so on if they convert to Christianity. Little I understood the ‘Religious Conversion Game’ till I grew older. These missionaries provide good schooling in India especially Calcutta. Hindus living in cities like to send their children to these schools with a hope they learn better English, get an outsourcing jobs from America and Europe and so on. But these missionaries also go to the poor people of India in the villages, convert these people by promising to teach their children in the boarding schools with the children of the rich people. They promise they will make their children Engineers, Accountants, Doctors and so on. These children from disadvantaged tribes and casts stay in hostels and study with the children of the upper class Hindus.

That is where I saw real problem. These kids of converted poor families are given little guidance. They are abused with lower quality food and shelter while the priests themselves live a much better life in separate buildings enjoying an upper middle-class life-style. I learnt all kinds of dirty things from my friends in the “converted community”. Out of thirty friends I had, not a single one became any engineer, doctor or accountant. In my school, 90% of Hindu kids are well established in life while 99% of these kids whose families have been converted go nowhere – most of them failed in seventh or eighth grade. Only one person I know who became a Roman Catholic priest, eventually left priesthood to get married and then became the headmaster of a school in Calcutta.

False promises and taking advantage of social and economic condition of certain communities to convert people is now being challenged by BJP and RSS in India. That is what the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) cannot tolerate. It is shame for USCIRF to try and monitor India while doing nothing much in America!

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has said that it is closely monitoring religious freedoms in India.

The US commission announced its 2006 recommendations to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on "countries of particular concern (CPCs)" Wednesday, saying that although India should not be under watch, it was being "monitored closely".


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