The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in India

By Vexen Crabtree 2018


#blasphemy #equality #free_speech #freedom #human_rights #india #politics #tolerance

Republic of India

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
CapitalNew Delhi
Land Area2 973 190km21
Population1.3b (2011)2
Life Expectancy68.32yrs (2017)3
GNI$5 663 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesIN, IND, 3565
Internet Domain.in6
CurrencyRupee (INR)7

India is very poor at ensuring human rights and freedom compared to the rest of the world, and it has cultural issues when it comes to tolerance and equality. India does better than average in fighting anti-semitic opinions9 and in commentary from Human Rights Watch10. Supreme Court rulings in 2017 strengthened fundamental human rights in general, for women in particular, and increased the accountability of security forces; it also accepted the right to privacy and improved India's stance on free speech and the rule of law.11 Also in 2017, the court outlawed "triple talaq" which allowed Muslim men to unilaterally divorce their wives with no warning11. But unfortunately India gets most other things wrong. It does worse than average in supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms12, fighting corruption13, eliminating modern slavery14, opposing gender inequality15, LGBT equality16, supporting press freedom17 and in its nominal commitment to Human Rights18. And finally, it falls into the bottom 20 in its Global Peace Index rating19. The constitution gives some protections for freedom of religion but some states and some laws create restrictions that create unfair legal prejudices towards, or against, certain religious groups20,21 and Hindu extremism has become 'an impediment to the exercise and enjoyment of internationally recognized human rights'22. Abuses committed by security forces persisted including allegations of torture, extrajudicial killings, notably in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, and Jammu and Kashmir11.

1. Politics and Freedom

#antisemitism #burundi #corruption #eritrea #france #freedom #human_development #human_rights #India #indonesia #mass_media #peace #politics #slavery

In 2017, the court ordered an investigation into 87 alleged unlawful killings by government forces in Manipur state from 1979 to 2012. [...But] in a setback for accountability for security force abuses, the Armed Forces Tribunal in July suspended the life sentences of five army personnel who were convicted in 2014 for a 2010 extrajudicial killing of three villagers in the Machil sector in Jammu and Kashmir.

The government failed to review and repeal the abusive Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), in force in Jammu and Kashmir and in parts of India´s northeastern region, which gives soldiers who commit violations effective immunity from prosecution. At time of writing, the government had yet to comply with a Supreme Court ruling civilian authorities should investigate all allegations of violations by troops.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)11

Sometimes, prejudice and racism descends into farce - until you remember that the victims involved will have their lives impacted, and will often face additional social and legal stigmatisation as a result of being arrested:

Authorities in India continued to use sedition and criminal defamation laws against government critics. In June, police in Madhya Pradesh state arrested 15 Muslims on sedition charges for allegedly celebrating Pakistan´s victory over India in a cricket match, despite Supreme Court directions that sedition allegations must involve actual violence or incitement to violence. After a public outcry, the police dropped the sedition case but charged them with disturbing communal harmony.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)11

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)9
Pos.Lower is better
World Avg36.8
Corruption (2012-2016)13
Pos.Higher is better
Avg Score13
2New Zealand90.6
88Trinidad & Tobago37.8
91Sri Lanka37.6
World Avg43.05
Global Peace Index (2012)19
Pos.Lower is better19
2New Zealand1.24
138Myanmar (Burma)2.53
World Avg2.02

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)10
Pos.Higher is better
61Papua New Guinea-3
World Avg-1.9
Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)18
Pos.Higher is better
3Costa Rica23
157Solomon Islands10
159Vatican City10
World Avg15.1
Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)12
Pos.Lower is better
1Hong Kong1
3New Zealand3
88Burkina Faso88
World Avg79.7

Press Freedom (2013)17
Pos.Lower is better17
141Congo, DR4166
World Avg3249

A fresh era of Hindu extremism, actively and directly encouraged by the ruling BJP party, has damaged freedom of speech and press freedom11. Attacks by mobs and governmental oppression has silenced many who do not toe a Hinduism-first line11,22.

Slavery (2018)14
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims14
118Equatorial Guinea0.64
World Avg0.65

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory23. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends24. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life25. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves26.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery27. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity28. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.29. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi14, Eritrea14, Indonesia30) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery31.

2. Gender Equality

#gender #India #misogyny #politics #women

Gender Inequality (2015)15
Pos.Lower is better15
122Sao Tome & Principe0.52
World Avg0.36

Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

Year Women Can Vote32
Pos.Lower is better
1New Zealand1893
81Bosnia & Herzegovina1949
85Antigua & Barbuda1951
World Avg1930

The 1950s saw a late rush of 43 countries, including India and many developing nations, move to cease preventing women from voting. India is an unequal country, with male rights dominating those of women.


3. LGBT Equality and Tolerance

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #India #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

LGBT Equality (2017)16
Pos.Higher is better
130Cook Islands-5
132St Lucia-9
135Trinidad & Tobago-10
136S. Sudan-10
137Papua New Guinea-10
World Avg12.6

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence33. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws34. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries33. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

4. India Overall National and Social Development

#human_development #India

Social & Moral
Development Index
Pos.Higher is better
104St Lucia51.0
105St Vincent & Grenadines50.9
108Cape Verde50.4
World Avg53.8

The Social and Moral Development Index concentrates on moral issues and human rights, violence, public health, equality, tolerance, freedom and effectiveness in climate change mitigation and environmentalism, and on some technological issues. A country scores higher for achieving well in those areas, and for sustaining that achievement in the long term. Those countries towards the top of this index can truly said to be setting good examples and leading humankind onwards into a bright, humane, and free future. See: What is the Best Country in the World? An Index of Morality, Conscience and Good Life.

5. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#blasphemy #christianity #free_speech #hinduism #india #islam

Hinduism dominates India and there are strong social pressures that lead to restrictions against the basic human freedom of belief36. India's constitution gives some protections for freedom of belief and religion20,21, however, some states and some laws create restrictions that create unfair legal prejudices towards, or against, certain religious groups20,21. The 'Hindutva' movement seeks to place "Hinduism first" and is responsible for stoking intolerance and Hindu extremism37. There is a steady stream of violent events between Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities. In 2017, vigilante violence aimed at religious minorities, marginalized communities, and critics of the government–often carried out by groups claiming to support the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)–became an increasing threat"11. Section 295 of Indian Penal Code allows convictions for intentionally causing offense, which is frequently abused by religious communities in a way that prevents free speech and intellectual criticism, in the same manner that blasphemy laws come to be used elsewhere too.20. Hindu extremism has become 'an impediment to the exercise and enjoyment of internationally recognized human rights'22.

Freedom of Thought: The International Humanist and Ethical Union produced a report in 2012 entitled "Freedom of Thought" (2012)20, in which they document bias and prejudice at the national level that is based on religion, belief and/or lack of belief. Their entry for India states:

The constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of religion or belief. The country is a secular republic, with all religions offered equality under the law. However, some state-level laws and policies restrict this freedom, and there continues to be some violence between religious groups and organized communal attacks against religious minorities. Section 295 of Indian Penal Code allows up to three years imprisonment and fines for "whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of a class." Also, in May 2011, the Indian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology issued new rules requiring operators of social media networks to screen and remove blasphemous content within 36 hours of receiving a complaint.

Cases of Discrimination

In April 2012, the Catholic Church filed a complaint under Section 295 of the country's penal code against Sanul Edamaruku, president of the Indian Rationalist Associaiton, an International Humanist and Ethical Union member organization. Edamaruku had previously exposed a supposed "miracle" by revealing that a weeping Jesus on the cross was actually the result of a leaky drain. The local police requested Edamaruku turn himself in and face the charges. He is currently in hiding to avoid arrest.

On November 19, 2012, Shaheen Dhada, 21, and her friend Renu Srinivasan, 20,were arrested for Facebook comments complaining that the city of Mumbai was shut down for the funeral of Bal Thackeray, leader of the Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena. Shiv Sena declared that the Facebook posts had disrespected the Hindu religion as well as Mr. Thackeray, whom Shiv Sena regard as a Hindu god. According to Ms. Dhada's father, the two women were originally charged under Section 295a of the Indian Penal code (for "deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs"). This was later changed to Section 505-2 of the same act ("statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes"), before they were finally charged under Section 66a of the Indian IT Act ("sending false and offensive messages through communication services"). They were released on bail awaiting trial. A hospital belonging to Ms. Dhada's uncle was ransacked by a mob protesting Ms. Dhada's Facebook comment. However, following public outrage, the police said the case would be dismissed, the policemen who arrested the women have been suspended, the magistrate who granted bail instead of dismissing he charges has been transferred, and the government has said it will review Section 66a of the IT Act. The women remain under police guard, though.

"Freedom of Thought" by IHEU (2012)20

There is a steady stream of violent events between Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities. According to Human Rights Watch, in 2017 "vigilante violence aimed at religious minorities, marginalized communities, and critics of the government - often carried out by groups claiming to support the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - became an increasing threat"11.

Mob attacks by extremist Hindu groups affiliated with the ruling BJP against minority communities, especially Muslims, continued throughout the year amid rumors that they sold, bought, or killed cows for beef. Instead of taking prompt legal action against the attackers, police frequently filed complaints against thevictims under laws banning cow slaughter. As of November, there had been 38 such attacks, and 10 people killed during the year. [...]

The government failed to promptly or credibly investigate the attacks, while many senior BJP leaders publicly promoted Hindu supremacy and ultra-nationalism, which encouraged further violence. Dissent was labeled anti-national, and activists, journalists, and academics were targeted for their views, chilling free expression.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)11

Current edition: 2018 Dec 28
Parent page: India (Republic of India)

All #tags used on this page - click for more:

#antisemitism #blasphemy #burundi #christianity #corruption #equality #eritrea #france #free_speech #freedom #gender #hinduism #homosexuality #human_development #human_rights #India #indonesia #intolerance #islam #mass_media #misogyny #peace #politics #sexuality #slavery #tolerance #women

Social Media

References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

Book Cover

Anti-Defamation League. (ADL)
(2014) ADL Global 100, Executive Summary. Accessed on on 2017 Jan 02. The numbers given are of those who state that racist stereotyped statements about Jews are true; they have to agree to 6 or more of the 11 statements to be counted. An example statements is "Jews are hated because of the way they behave". The data was collected from 53,100 interviews across 101 countries plus the West Bank and Gaza. The global average is 26%.

Casely-Hayford, Gus
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Crabtree, Vexen
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Donnelly, Jack
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The Fraser Institute
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Grim & Finke. Dr Grim is senior researcher in religion and world affairs at the Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C, USA. Finke is Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies at the Pennsylvania State University.
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Walk Free Foundation
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  33. Donnelly (2013). Chapter 16 "Nondiscrimination for All: The Case of Sexual Minorities" p278.^
  34. Donnelly (2013). Chapter 16 "Nondiscrimination for All: The Case of Sexual Minorities" p289. According to a 1992 ruling of the Human Rights Committee, which declared that 'it is undisputed that adult consensual sexual activity in private is covered by the concept of privacy' when discussing Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. See Human Rights Committee, Communication 488/1992, paragraph 8.2.^
  35. "What is the Best Country in the World? An Index of Morality, Conscience and Good Life" by Vexen Crabtree (2019)^
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