On August 15, 2017 while the Indian government of Narendra Modi and its Hindu extremist allies were celebrating country’s 70th birthday, its top ally United States blasted New Delhi of committing heinous religious policies against its minorities especially 150 million-strong Muslim minority.
“Authorities frequently did not prosecute members of vigilante “cow protection” groups who attacked alleged smugglers, consumers, or traders of beef, usually Muslims, despite an increase in attacks compared to previous years. Courts also issued decisions on several long-standing cases related to religiously motivated violence and riots. Christian and Muslim activists stated the government was not doing enough to protect them against religiously motivated attacks. The government filed a Supreme Court petition challenging the minority status of Muslim educational institutions, which affords the institutions independence in hiring and curriculum decisions. Some nationalist political leaders advocated for the country to be declared a Hindu state,” the report said.
“There were reports of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs and proselytize. There was an increase in violent incidents by cow protection groups against mostly Muslim victims, including killings, mob violence, assaults, and intimidation. Hindus threatened and assaulted Muslims and Christians and destroyed their property. According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), there were more than 300 incidents of abuse targeting Christians during the year, compared with 177 in 2015. Incidents included assaults on missionaries, forced conversions of non-Hindus, and attacks on churches, schools, and private property. Administrators at some Muslim and Christian schools and graveyards denied their facilities to interreligious couples or their children. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reported 751 conflicts between religious communities, which resulted in 97 deaths and 2,264 injuries in 2015,” the report noted.
The report rapped India’s Hindu extremists who are bent on making cow slaughter by Muslims and Hindu Dalit criminals like Holocaust deniers.
“Authorities often failed to prosecute violence by cow protection groups against persons, mostly Muslims, suspected of slaughtering or illegally transporting cows or trading in or consuming beef,” noted the report.
Kolkata-born British writer Supriyo Chatterjee wrote on India’s birthday: “Today 15 August 70 years ago, India became independent. Here are some facts and numbers on India you don’t see.”
Here are some of those facts and figures:
- While country is home to 101 billionaire, 55% of country’s 1.1 population lives below the poverty line.
- India’s defence budget for 2017 is an estimated $53.5 billion. It is the world’s largest arms importer. It buys three times as much arms from the international market as Pakistan and China, its neighbors and rivals, accounting for 14% of all arms imports globally from 2009-2013. The USA is the largest provider (40%), followed by the Russians (30%) and the French (14%). Israel provides 4% of the imports but is growing in importance. India spends 7% of its budget on defense but only 2.4% of GDP on health and less than 3% on education.
- 200 million people go hungry in India.
- 1.3 million Indian children die a year before their first birthday. 1.6 million children die every year before age of 5. 43.5% of all children under-fives are underweight. Infant mortality rate is 46.07 deaths/1,000 live births. Almost half of children drop out of school before 15 years of age.
- Maternal mortality rates are 200 deaths/100,000 live births.
- Only 46.9% of the total 246.6 million households have toilet facilities. Of the rest, 3.2% use public toilets while 49.8% ease themselves in the open. 32% of the households use treated water for drinking and 17% still fetch drinking water from a source located more than 500 metres in rural areas or 100 metres in urban centers.
- Unemployment stands officially at 9.8%, but the real figure is much higher.
- More than 135,000 road accident deaths are reported every year, most of them being cyclists and pedestrians.
India-US artist Priti Gulati Cox in her blog post says: “India, you will be celebrating your 70th year of Independence from British rule on August 15. All over the country all of you will be remembering the fallen, hoisting flags, and singing songs of freedom. Meanwhile in Indian-administered Kashmir — the largest militarized zone in the world — the Indian state and its military and paramilitary forces will continue to carry on with their sustained human rights abuses aimed at the regions indigenous population.”