The Pew survey is based on nearly 30,000 face-to-face interviews with adults conducted in 17 languages between late 2019 and early 2020
A recent Pew Research Center study on “Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation” fell like a 7-ton Daisy Cutter on the Western and domestic “secular, liberal” narrative. It challenges the very premise of the anti-India propaganda, especially the one that has raged since Narendra Modi took power seven years ago.
That Pew is the world’s leading credible investigative organization makes harsh criticism of India even more uncomfortable. It also demolishes many aspects of the negative and confrontational narrative against the nation.
The findings report sets the context early, speaking of the staggering scale of the diversity and coexistence of religions in India.
“Not only do most of the world’s Hindus, Jains and Sikhs live in India, but it is also home to one of the world’s largest Muslim populations and millions of Christians and Buddhists,” he says. .
the Pew Inquiry is based on nearly 30,000 face-to-face interviews with adults conducted in 17 languages between late 2019 and early 2020.
First, it shatters the lie that groups with political interests like the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) have repeatedly said that India has put serious restrictions on religious freedom. The Pew Inquiry reveals that “Indians of all these religious backgrounds overwhelmingly declare that they are very free to practice their faith.”
Second, those who cry wolf about “intolerant India” would also be disappointed. The study says, “Indians view religious tolerance as central to who they are as a nation. In major religious groups, most people say that it is very important to respect all religions in order to be “truly Indian”. And tolerance is a religious as well as a civic value: Indians are united in the idea that respect for other religions is a very important part of what it means to be a member of their own religious community.
Third, many may have been converted through the ages, but Hinduism has not entirely left them. Exactly the same percentage of Hindus and Muslims (77%) believe in karma. There is more surprise. “A third of Christians (32%) – as well as 81% of Hindus – say they believe in the purifying power of the Ganges, a central belief in Hinduism.
In addition, 27% of Muslims and 29% of Christians – almost three in 10 people – believe in reincarnation.
Fourth, there is also a strong reality check for the Hindu far right, and bad news for those who dream of making India a recruiting ground for Islamic State and Al Qaeda. “Indian Muslims say almost unanimously that they are very proud to be Indian (95%) and they express great enthusiasm for Indian culture: 85% agree with the statement that“ Indians are not perfect, but Indian culture is superior to others ”. says the study.
Fifth, he again confirms that Pakistan’s attempts to instigate anger and disenchantment with India among the Sikhs are a childish fantasy. “A near universal proportion of Sikhs say they are very proud to be Indian (95%), and the vast majority (70%) say that a person who disrespects India cannot be Sikh,” says the ‘study.
Sixth, the study also shatters the hypothesis that the Modi government banned instant triple talaq without community buy-in. Overall, 56% of Muslims, and 61% of women in particular, disapprove of triple talaq.
Seventh, Indian Muslims have more in common with Indian Hindus than with Pakistanis or Bangladeshis in some respects. While 98% of Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims believe in Heaven, only 58% of Indian Muslims believe in it, which is similar to the beliefs of 56% of Hindus. Again, while 97 percent and 95 percent of Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims respectively believe in angels, only 53 percent of Indian Muslims do, as do 49 percent of Indian Hindus.
Eighth, the Pew survey shows that it is not just Hindus who oppose interfaith marriages, especially with a Muslim man or woman. The feeling is not just mutual, Muslims seem to hate the idea even more widely.
“About two-thirds of Hindus in India want to prevent interfaith marriages of Hindu women (67%) or Hindu men (65%). Even larger proportions of Muslims feel the same: 80% say it is very important to prevent Muslim women from marrying outside their religion, and 76% say it is very important to prevent Muslim men from doing so.
It rips through the constant demonization of Hindus and efforts to portray Muslims as this open and liberal community willing to embrace everything.
The study captures Indian philosophy well. “The Indian concept of religious tolerance does not necessarily imply the mixing of religious communities. While people in some countries may aspire to create a “melting pot” of different religious identities, many Indians seem to prefer a country more like a patchwork fabric, with clear lines between groups, ”he says.
Ninth, casteism is not at all an exclusively Hindu problem. “Today Indians almost universally identify with a caste, whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists or Jains,” the report said.
Among Muslims, 43% identify as other backward castes (OBC), 4% as scheduled castes (SC) and 3% as listed tribes (ST). An even higher number of Christians are still linked to a caste, with 78% identifying themselves as SC, ST or OBC. Among Sikhs, 47 percent identify themselves as SC.
Tenth, caste discrimination in the liberal south and north-east is higher than discrimination even in the much maligned Hindi heart.
“A higher proportion of Dalits in the South and Northeast than elsewhere in the country report having been personally discriminated against in the past 12 months because of their caste: 30% of Southern Dalits say so, while like 38% in the Northeast, ”says the study. In northern and central India, it is 22 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
If a single survey with a large sample size carried out by a world-renowned organization demolishes so many myths, one wonders how loose the ground for anti-nationalist discourse against India must be. Critics of India should sometimes try the truth.