Religious apartheid in India and American policy response
Dear Secretary Rice September 13, 2005
We have uncovered new data unequivocally showing massive and systematic religious apartheid carried out in India. All available evidence points to the US State Department (USSD) not even aware of this apartheid practice. Unfortunately, due to this ignorance USSD’s policy initiatives appear to be promoting this apartheid – i.e. undermining religious freedom and human rights in India. Through this letter we are bringing an opportunity for you to understand this issue and take corrective steps.
I am an American trained nuclear physicist (received my PhD from Stony Brook University, NY) with well over twenty peer-reviewed publications in nuclear physics and related areas. I have also published well over thirty articles on terrorism and religious freedom related issues. I am writing this letter on behalf of Indian American Intellectuals Forum, a non-profit organization based in New York. I am an US-citizen.
Indian American intellectuals forum
This New York-based non-profit organization was established around 1999 to promote understanding between America and India. In the past six years we have brought out over thirty papers on issues concerning the community and have conducted well over five seminars. We have also met with US government officials in the past. We have hosted law-makers as well. In terms of awareness campaign our forum has among the strongest track records in Indian American community.
Why was religious apartheid in India not noticed until now?
Until recently a minority white regime in South Africa controlled power and garnered most wealth through unscrupulous and unethical means. The world community led by America and United Nations was finally able to identify and ostracize the white regime, leading to its dismantling and transfer of power to majority black native Africans. With that the last vintages of racial apartheid was coming to an end in the modern era. While racial apartheid is more easily noticeable, religious apartheid is not.
It appears that religious apartheid is alive and kicking.
In India we are now seeing conclusive evidence of a form of massive religious apartheid practiced by Muslim and Christian communities on majority Hindu community. Due to a lack of knowledge and due to weak and unsophisticated nature of the Hindu majority (like the black natives of South Africa), these grave violations of human rights have not yet been exposed.
Curiously, the Indian constitution encourages apartheid practice by religious minorities. Obviously, the majority Hindus have proven to be powerless to change the constitution. Having been under slavery for a thousand years first under Muslims then under British, the Hindu community has not yet developed means and leadership to advance its interests. As we know from South African situation, it is not always the case that a majority controls power – here again civilizationally backward black majority was taken advantage by a sophisticated minority white community. Both Muslim and Christian institutions in India with years of proselytizing and public relations experience behind them have not only managed to successfully shield their discriminatory and apartheid practices, but have also successfully painted a picture, portraying majority Hindu organizations and leaders as bad entities – when the reality has been exactly the opposite. To practice apartheid and to proselytize the Hindu majority it is a must to discredit its leadership and organizations – the time-tested winning formula – practiced by Muslim and Christian communities in India.
Here in America two umbrella organizations represent Indian Christian and Indian Muslim interests: http://www.FIACONA.org (Federation of Indian American Christian Organization of North America) and http://www.imc-usa.org (Indian Muslim Council – American chapter). These two outfits have been involved in sustaining and promoting institutions in India practicing apartheid (under the cover of religious freedom) and are on a smear campaign to discredit on Hindu organizations based in America and in India. The contents and their out of context and one-sided portrayal of events in India – exaggerating and vilifying Hindu majority organizations and their leaders while saying virtually nothing about the apartheid and violence conducted by their communities give away the true nature of these outfits.
Christian apartheid in India
Some sections of church in America undoubtedly tried to help native Americans. However, history records of American church’s support for driving out native Americans from their vast lands and its convenient description of them as “beasts”, so that discriminate and overwhelming use of force on them can be justified. Church’s support for treating blacks as slaves is also notable.
We see from history that church could be involved in institutionalized discrimination and apartheid under certain conditions. Certainly, sections of church in India have undoubtedly worked to help poor, build hospital and educational institutions. But here is the question: Does the Indian church practice institutionalized apartheid as a way of taking away wealth unfairly from majority Hindus, so that the weakened Hindus can be converted to Christianity?
We have uncovered extensive and massive discrimination and apartheid carried out by Church institutions in India. Here is a sample of employment patterns in Indian higher educational institutions.
Note: The following statistics were extracted from institutions’ official web pages. Faculty religious affiliations were determined based upon their names. A more accurate religious determination will further skew the data toward religious bias. The faculty salaries appear to be State or tax-payer funded.
Total faculty members: 122
Christian faculty members: 81; Christian faculty percentage: 66%
Total junior faculty members (junior lecturers): 22
Christian junior faculty members: 21; Christian faculty percentage: 95%
Total faculty members: 118
Christian faculty members: 71; Christian faculty percentage: 60%
Total faculty members: 93
Christian faculty members: 77; Christian faculty percentage: 83%
Total faculty members: 132
Christian faculty members: 56; Christian faculty percentage: 42%
Christians in India constitute only about 4% of the population. The local Christian percentages do vary. In Kerala Christians constitute around 19% of the population and in Tamil Nadu, around 7%. In Maharashtra they constitute around 5%.
Statistics don’t lie, if this is not institutionalized apartheid, what is?
Dominic Emmanuel, a director and priest at Delhi Catholic Archdiocese wrote recently in Financial Times arguing for reservation for minority students.
There is yet another revealing statistics confirming how Church control of many educational institutions and its discrimination in favor of Christians has led to much higher literacy percentage level among Indian Christians. The result of a research conducted by Abu Saale Sharif, based on the National Sample Survey in 1998, shows that in the age group of seven years and above, the literacy rate among Muslim males is 59.5% and that of women 38%, making a total of 49.5%. Where-as among Hindu males, it is 65.9% and among women it is 39.2%, making it a total of 52.5% and among Christian males it was 85% and among women it was 76.5%, making a total of nearly 81%. Among other religious groups too the ratio is 65.6% among males and 40.1% among females, making it a total of 53.5%.
Conclusion: By and large, it appears Christian institutions in India practice religious apartheid on majority Hindus. This is in violation of religious freedom and human rights.
Even in a well-governed America we have found that businesses do cheat due to lax in regulations and/or enforcement of laws. India is a poor and an ill-governed country. Hence, there is no reason why the business of proselytizing in India wouldn’t use fraudulent means. Well-funded and connected proselytizing organizations can easily make the law enforcement look the other way as they indulge in unlawful practices.
American evangelical groups and other Christian denominations are known to give funding and other help to Indian Christian institutions. It is hard to believe that they are unaware of this systematic pattern of Christian apartheid in India.
Hence top Indian Christian government leaders with deep ties to Indian Christian institutions are in positions to damage the cause of human rights and religious freedom in India, as they can be manipulated by this apartheid practicing Indian Christianity.
Muslim apartheid in India
Any discussion of Muslim outlook in India could never be complete without discussing the outlook of former Indian Muslims, now known as Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims. In 1947, Muslims in India (comprising 24% of the population) demanded a separate nation for themselves and got it in the form of Pakistan (comprising 25% of the original land mass). Quickly they set about making these regions non-Muslim free. Over 20% and 30% Hindu and Sikh populations in Pakistan and Bangladesh are now reduced to less than 2% and 10% respectively. This was achieved by driving out most of these minorities to India. This is a special form of apartheid -- it is called genocide. There is also another interpretation of this 1947 partition-- a permanent 25% reservation for Indian Muslims – of land, wealth and opportunities.
This was to repeat again in 1989 from India’s only Muslim majority state of Kashmir, once again from here too Hindus were driven out to the rest of India. Also, Kashmiri Muslims who control the state through majority status have unfairly reserved most opportunities for themselves at the expense of others (http://www.saveindia.com/perfect_con_job.htm, http://www.saveindia.com/woes_of_jammu_and_ladakh.htm, http://www.saveindia.com/india-colony.htm).
What is Indian Muslim outlook in the rest of India where they are minority? The answer comes from institutions that are controlled by Muslims.
Total faculty members: 329
Muslim faculty members: 288; Muslim faculty percentage: 88%
This total doesn’t include Jamia’s faculty of humanities and languages. Such an inclusion will only increase the religious bias. Although Jamia is not operated by a proselytizing Muslim organization, it broadly reflects the kind of employment discrimination that takes place in an educational institution operated by a Muslim proselytizing organization.
Total faculty members: 671
Muslim faculty members: 603; Muslim faculty percentage: 90%
This total doesn’t include faculty from departments at Aligarh that do not have web pages. Recently, the regime in Delhi decided to reserve 50% of all post graduate degrees for Muslim students in Aligarh!
Given that Muslims in India constitute only 14% of the population, this points to a severe religious bias and discrimination.
Conclusion: Indian Muslim institutions practice religious apartheid on majority Hindus. This is in violation of religious freedom and human rights. Massive ethnic cleansing of Hindus from every area of South Asia controlled by Muslims points to one other thing – an expansion is now underway to Islamize the region and extend Islam’s frontiers using apartheid and genocide.
Hence top Indian Muslim government leaders with deep ties to Indian Muslim institutions are in positions to damage the cause of human rights and religious freedom in India, as they can be manipulated by an apartheid practicing Indian Islam.
Where is Hindu apartheid?
While the statistics shown here on Muslim and Christian institutions is limited I am confident that a more extensive study will point to similar conclusions. As we will see later the Indian constitution actively promotes minority apartheid practice on majority Hindus, hence there is every incentive for the minority to practice apartheid.
These tax-payer funded minority institutions also give preferential admissions to students belonging to their faith -- thereby reducing opportunities and compromising the future of majority’s children. This too violates religious freedom and human rights. Due to a lack of statistics this student component is not discussed here.
What is also notable is the recent trend in at least in one minority institution to hire almost exclusively young faculty of the same faith (American college).
The majority Hindu community has a significant population level of educated people – thus negating the possibility of a lack of qualified majority manpower. Also, most of the topics taught in these colleges are secular in nature – not requiring people of certain faith. Statistics have shown that proselytizing activity of the majority Hindu community in India is insignificant. This can be ascertained from Indian population census history as well as from the philosophy and practice of Hindu religious institutions.
Below is a quote from an analysis by Prof. Issac (http://www.saveindia.com/for_hindus_in_kerala_it.htm): “The education scenario is one of the major sectors where the organised strength of the minorities in Kerala (where Christians and Muslims constitute around 19% and 25% respectively) is used in a covert manner. In this sector the majority (Hindu) community as well as the government altogether controls only 11.11 per cent, on the other hand the church controls 55.55 per cent and Muslim religious organisations 33.33 percent of the total institutions. At present the professional education sector of Kerala is somewhat under the full control of the minorities. About 12,000 engineering seats and 300 medicine seats are in the minority institutions and they are fully controlling the admissions. At present 60 per cent of the seats of the paramedical courses are controlled by the organised minority religious leadership. The minority managements deny the organisational freedom of teachers and students. Behind this undemocratic exercise, is there anything other than organised minority leadership's haughtiness? In this situation here, the successive governments are functioning as meagre onlookers.”
Prof. Issac further states how Muslims who control power in education ministry in a Hindu majority Kerala have “In all the 25 years (as Education Ministers) the Muslim League followed the policy of filling ups of all posts in the educational department with Muslims.”
How disorganized the majority community can be ascertained by the fact that Hindu temple funds are not only controlled by the governments, but are used to fund various schemes under government control, including Haj subsidies for Indian Muslims! This again is an evidence of unfair wealth transfer from the majority.
India with a Hindu majority is secular and democratic is no coincidence, as are Pakistan or Bangladesh with Muslim majority is Islamic that often have had dictatorial regimes and are fountain heads of radicalism. While Muslim population percentage within India has grown by about 50%, the Hindu population percentage in the neighboring Pakistan or Bangladesh has dropped by several fold – since 1947. This shows that the outlook of Hindu community, unlike Muslims of South Asia, is inclusive. Hence it doesn’t appear to have the ingredients of a community that sponsors apartheid.
We see how some groups belonging to proselytizing religions such as Christianity or Islam are using discrimination (due to deficiencies in Indian constitution) to garner wealth unfairly from majority community in India. This leads to impoverishment and illiteracy among the beleaguered Hindu majority, who can then be much more easily converted – by falsely claiming that Hindu religious practices make them destitute! Hence these apartheid practices in India, if left unchecked, will lead to the disappearance of an ancient civilization.
Indian constitution promotes apartheid
India’s constitution has certain provisions (Article 30) whereby minorities are exempt (are allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion, unlike majority) from certain requirements in running their own institutions (http://www.legalservicesindia.com/articles/judi.htm). By and large, Hindus are not considered minority (even in areas where they are a numerical minority such as Jammu and Kashmir) but Christians and Muslims definitely are. For instance, minority community may reserve up to 50 percent of the seats for the members of its own community in an educational institution established and administered by it even if the institution is getting aid from the State. But the data given above, in most instances, show hiring level well-exceeding 50%.
Very recently, Andra Pradesh government allotted 5% job reservation to its Muslim residents, indicating that apartheid in India is only showing signs of increase and the power of jihadi groups that sponsored this reservation demand only increasing.
Majority Hindus unlike Christians, Muslims and others do not have the same opportunity to establish, fund and importantly, operate schools/colleges in India. This in itself is at the heart of violation of religious freedom and human rights. In fact, minorities such as Muslims or Christians, unlike Hindus are allowed to discriminate constitutionally or lawfully. The statistics I have listed above show that they have in general gone well beyond that.
Also, even if all communities get the same opportunity to "discriminate" lawfully on the basis of religion, that still is a violation of religious freedom. That is why India needs civil rights laws (similar to the one America has) that prohibit discrimination.
Precisely for the above reasons, America doesn’t have these types of minority/religious preference laws and in fact, has laws that prohibit religious discrimination (the Civil Rights Act of 1964) -- under the Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Civil unrest in India is due to religious apartheid
With their future and their children’s future unfairly stolen away due to apartheid practice of Christians and Muslim institutions supported by the respective communities, it is not hard to see why some Hindus in India have turned to violence directed at Christian and Muslim communities and institutions given the majority’s organizational weaknesses to dismantle this apartheid. With Indian Christianity controlling many educational institutions and hospitals this is a serious human rights issue.
Article 370 of the Indian constitution granting special privilege to Muslim majority Kashmir is at the backbone of militant Islamic assault on India. This article has made it possible for Muslims in the region to institutionalize the practice of apartheid and extract enormous subsidizes from the central government in Delhi, that come at the expense of other states in India where most Hindus live. This apartheid practice has also led to a full-fledged Muslim insurgency in Kashmir. This too is a huge drain on India’s limited resources. Even as India records strong economic growth, Muslim apartheid-originated problems have kept wealth and resources from reaching hundreds of millions of impoverished majority Hindus. This has led to increasing resentment against Indian Muslims. The frustration at Indian democracy for its inability to stop this minority apartheid has led to an embrace of naxal ideologies by the majority poor in many states.
Flawed outlook at US State Department and USCIRF
What is American policy response to this apartheid?
Here is a link to the 2004 USSD report on religious freedom in India: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35516.htm. The main thrust of USSD’s and USCIRF’s efforts in India is physical protection minorities, with civil issues coming later -- on the grounds of encouraging human rights and religious freedom.
This report shows that USSD has not even understood that Indian constitution undermines religious freedom and secularism. Here is a quote from this report: “The Constitution provides for secular government and the protection of religious freedom”.
This report gives a comprehensively flawed portrayal of Hindu organizations being at the forefront of attacks and discrimination against minorities, based just upon isolated incidents and without statistical analysis. Statistics shown in previous sections do not lie – clearly indicating who practices apartheid and creates instabilities in India. What has happened is that Christian and Muslim minority institutions well-oiled in public relations have simply taken State Department officials in India and in Washington for a ride. With the Hindu community (like the blacks in Africa) not sophisticated thus far and has not been to give its side of the story, essentially one view got through -- that of the religious apartheid practitioners.
With USSD acting, to the most part, as the eyes and ears for USCIRF, this blunder continued in USCIRF’s “policy guides” to the US government on aiding religious freedom in India. This is mind boggling indeed.
Instead of focusing on the big picture – the minority religious apartheid in India – the US State Department or USCIRF have focused on the issues that are dear to Christian proselytizers (with Christianity being the majority religion in America) – foreign fund flow for Indian Churches and anti-conversion laws in India. Obviously, both of these factors are adversarial to Christian interests in India. There also appears evidence that in consultation with minority leaders in India (who engage in apartheid practice), the US State department officials have lobbied local Indian government to revoke anti-conversion laws (revoking anti-conversion laws is adversarial to Hindu majority interests).
The latest report released by USCIRF is available at this location: http://www.uscirf.gov/countries/publications/currentreport/2005annualRpt.pdf#page=1. Here again the practice of apartheid by Muslim and Christian minorities is not noted anywhere in sections pertinent to India. In its policy recommendations, the Commission fails to note this or the need make Indian constitution discrimination free. It is particularly notable that the State Department or the USCIRF’s reports on India have virtually nothing negative to say about Church activities in India!
I am sure most Americans support policies of ensuring religious freedom and human rights abroad, but few would support American policies leading to the promotion of religious apartheid abroad.
There should be little question that the US State Department or USCIRF track record has been dented when it comes to addressing religious freedom and human rights issues in India. However, this outlook and policy initiatives appear to be out of ignorance -- only saving grace in an unfortunate situation.
Indian democracy undermined
Clearly, this apartheid practiced by Muslim and Christian minorities in India undermines not just religious freedom and human rights, but also Indian democracy. The US State Departments’ reports have shown that American policies are inadvertently undermining democracy in India by its flawed outlook and policies.
War on terror compromised
The above 2004 USSD’s report on religious freedom and the companion one on human rights (http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41740.htm) and one by USCIRF have shown little indication of American grasp of Islamic expansion now underway in India or the pressures felt by the majority Hindus from this no-rules-barred jihad waged on them.
With former Indian Muslims, also known as Pakistani Muslims at the forefront of Taliban & Al-Qaeda sponsorship, this outlook bares open deep intelligence failure at the USSD. This has been compounded by a dearth of younger people with expertise on South Asia (http://www.indiacause.com/columns/OL_040202.htm).
A State Department that has been largely ignorant of minority apartheid and Islamic expansion in India has continued to make questionable policy decisions. With Narendra Modi India sees a decisive and an able leader who can bring minority apartheid to an end, help build a strong economy and help India win the war on terror. Not surprisingly, Christian proselytizing groups and jihadi fronts vehemently oppose him. The State department, consistent with its flawed outlook on India, revoked a visa originally issued for his visit.
One wonders how US State Department with this level of ignorance on South Asia provide effective assistance to an American government on executing the war on terror?
It should be disturbing that the US State Department’s perceptions and outlook are flawed and inverted when it comes to religious freedom and human rights in India. This is simply unacceptable for the leading civilizational nation. Besides, the policies pursued by America in India are simply inconsistent with what it stands for and it what it tries to propagate around the world.
Obviously some introspection and a policy review are immediately and sorely needed. America simply can’t afford to operate under conditions of ignorance. There must be a paradigm shift, i.e. the realization that like black majority under apartheid white regime in South Africa, it is majority Hindus in India who need protection from minorities. This is what statistics tell us, not some unobjective analysis based upon isolated attacks on minorities by Hindus.
The world community led by America and United Nations had to nudge the White Apartheid regime in South Africa to give up power to the black majority. This was because the Whites in South Africa were simply too powerful. In the case of India, with Hindu majority simply too weak to confront an organized and apartheid practicing minorities, it is in American interests to pursue policies in two ways: Help India amend its constitution so that it is non-discriminatory (with special status for minorities removed) and help India pass laws requiring non-discriminatory hiring and admission practices & Nudge religious minority institutions in India to adhere to non-discriminatory practices.
Unfortunately, there appear to be some support for apartheid practicing Christian proselytizers in the US Congress. It is important for USSD to keep that in mind as it formulates future policies on religious freedom and human rights issues.
Please let me know how you are going to respond to these concerns.
Moorthy Muthuswamy PhD