The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in India

By Vexen Crabtree 2018

#antisemitism #blasphemy #free_speech #hinduism_extremism #india #india_antisemitism

Republic of India

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index100th best
Life Expectancy67.24yrs (2017)2

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 its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice3, commentary in Human Rights Watch reports4, speed of uptake of HR treaties5 and in freethought6. It's astounding that in a country of its size, just 1% of the population holds 21.3% of the country's entire income7. But those in power aren't malevolently rich and powerful; 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.8 Also in 2017, the court outlawed "triple talaq" which allowed Muslim men to unilaterally divorce their wives with no warning8. India still has work to do. India does worse than average when it comes to supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms9, opposing gender inequality10, LGBT equality11, supporting press freedom12 and in its nominal commitment to Human Rights13. And finally, it sits amongst the bottom 20 in terms of the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators)14. 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 groups15,16 and Hindu extremism has become 'an impediment to the exercise and enjoyment of internationally recognized human rights'17. Abuses committed by security forces persisted including allegations of torture, extrajudicial killings, notably in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, and Jammu and Kashmir8.

1. India's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #gender_equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Compared to Asia (2020)18
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank18
1Hong Kong24.3
21=Sri Lanka94.8
24Timor-Leste (E. Timor)98.6
Asia Avg99.9
Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)18
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank18
116Timor-Leste (E. Timor)98.6
World Avg87.9

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Norway and Denmark19. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Somalia and Tuvalu19.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe19, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia19.

For more, see:

Amnesty International's 2023-23 summary on human rights in India stated:

Laws and policies that were passed without adequate public and legislative consultation eroded the rights of human rights defenders and religious minorities. The government selectively and viciously cracked down on religious minorities, and explicit advocacy of hatred by political leaders and public officials towards them was commonplace and went unpunished. Punitive demolitions of Muslim family homes and businesses were carried out with impunity. Peaceful protesters defending minority rights were presented and treated as a threat to public order. Repressive laws including counterterrorism legislation were used rampantly to silence dissent. Authorities intimidated human rights defenders using digital technologies, including unlawful surveillance. Adivasis and marginalized communities including Dalits continued to face violence and entrenched discrimination.

"The State of the World's Human Rights 2022/23" by Amnesty International (2023)20

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)8

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)8

2. Human Rights & Tolerance

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments


Human Rights Watch Comments
Higher is better
61=Papua New Guinea-3
Asia Avg-5.0
World Avg-1.9
India ranks 60th in the world in terms of commentary in Human Rights Watch reports.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

For more, see:

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR


Nominal Commitment to HR
Higher is better
2=Costa Rica23
157Solomon Islands10
158=Vatican City10
Asia Avg12.7
World Avg15.1
India comes 155th in the world when it comes to its nominal commitment to Human Rights.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

For more, see:

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag
Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty5
77Bosnia & Herzegovina9.17
80Sierra Leone9.33
Asia Avg10.97
World Avg10.02
When it comes to speed of uptake of HR treaties, India comes 78th in the world.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom
Lower is better
1Hong Kong1
3New Zealand3
88=Burkina Faso88
Asia Avg94.6
World Avg79.7
India ranks 87th in the world regarding supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)21

For more, see:

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #Freedom_of_Speech #Good_Governance #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom
Lower is better
141Congo, DR4166
Asia Avg4378
World Avg3249
India comes 139th in the world when it comes to supporting press freedom.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world, and is linked with Freedom of Speech and Good Governance. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted". The rankings are used as one of the datasets of the Social and Moral Development Index22

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

For more, see:

A fresh era of Hindu extremism, actively and directly encouraged by the ruling BJP party, has damaged freedom of speech and press freedom8. Attacks by mobs and governmental oppression has silenced many who do not toe a Hinduism-first line8,17.

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Lower is better
% Victims23
118=Equatorial Guinea0.64
Asia Avg0.79
World Avg0.65
India comes 115th in the world in terms of eliminating modern slavery.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory24. 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' friends25. 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 life26. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves27.

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 slavery28. 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 dignity29. 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.30. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi31, Eritrea31, Indonesia32) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery33.

For more, see:

3. Gender Equality

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.


3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality
Lower is better
122Sao Tome & Principe0.52
Asia Avg0.36
World Avg0.36
India is positioned 125th in the world with regard to opposing gender inequality.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. 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 patriarchalism 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.

For more, see:

3.2. Gender Biases

#gender #gender_equality #prejudice #women

Gender Biases
Lower is better
2New Zealand34.435
77Myanmar (Burma)99.435
Asia Avg94.24
World Avg83.93
In terms of the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), India is 14th-worst in the world.

The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) looks at gender biases across seven criteria; the % given here is for the total people who are biased across any of those criteria. By subtracting the value from 100%, you can see that those who do well on this index, you are seeing a count of those who do not appear to be biased against women in any of the criteria, and so, doing well on this index is a very positive sign for any country.

The data was included in UN (2022) with full results in Annex table AS6.7.1; their data stems for ranges between 2005 and 2022, depending on the country in question.

3.3. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Lower is better
1New Zealand1893
80=Bosnia & Herzegovina1949
85Antigua & Barbuda1951
Asia Avg1907
World Avg1930
India comes 82nd in the world with regard to the year from which women could participate in democracy.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

For more, see:

4. Prejudice

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions
Lower is better
Asia Avg48.2
World Avg36.8
India comes 25th in the world with regard to its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews37,38,39,40. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East41, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews42,43. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"44. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males45.

For more, see:

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #ICCPR #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

LGBT Equality
Higher is better
130=Cook Islands-5
132St Lucia-9
133=Trinidad & Tobago-10
133=S. Sudan-10
133=Papua New Guinea-10
Asia Avg-02.1
World Avg12.6
India comes 133rd in the world with regard to LGBT equality.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence46. 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 laws47. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries46. 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.

For more, see:

4.3. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freedom_of_belief #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Freedom of Thought
Lower is better
96=Ivory Coast3.0
Asia Avg3.7
World Avg3.0
India comes 88th in the world with regard to freethought.

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights48. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish49. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era50 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted51. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief52. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands6,53 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia6,54.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed55. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief49, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion56 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"57 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

For more, see:

5. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#blasphemy #christianity #free_speech #hinduism #hinduism_extremism #india #islam #religion_in_india

Hinduism dominates India and there are strong social pressures that lead to restrictions against the basic human freedom of belief58. India's constitution gives some protections for freedom of belief and religion15,16, however, some states and some laws create restrictions that create unfair legal prejudices towards, or against, certain religious groups15,16. The 'Hindutva' movement seeks to place "Hinduism first" and is responsible for stoking intolerance and Hindu extremism59. 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"8. 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.15. Hindu extremism has become 'an impediment to the exercise and enjoyment of internationally recognized human rights'17.

Freedom of Thought: The International Humanist and Ethical Union produced a report in 2012 entitled "Freedom of Thought" (2012)15, 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)15

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"8.

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)8

6. The Hindu Caste System of India 60

#hinduism #india #india_castes #india_culture

Classical Hindu scriptures divided society into brahmins (priests), kshatriyas (warriors), vaishyas (merchants) and shudras (crafts)61; it resulted in long-term awful social injustice in India, especially upon the creation of a fifth class, the dalit (downtrodden) who perform menial and unpleasant tasks. They became known as the 'untouchables', although the concept was made illegal in 1950 it did little to actually remove class prejudice. The dalit are now known as the 'scheduled' caste. Being identified with a caste prevents access to 'wrong' professions and inappropriate places, but also, does allow access to internal caste support.61

Modern and secularist projects at government level have tried to dismantle these old Hindu concepts through reforms and rebalances62, but the fundamental concept of the division of society into strata remains part of the cultural inheritance of Hindu India. Emancipation will come best with a wholesale break from the past, and from Hinduism.

For more, see: