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India's social restrictions index involving religion worse than Pakistan, hostility towards Dalits key factor: Pew

By Rajiv Shah
In its new report, well-known US-based Pew Research Centre has said that “among the world’s 25 most populous countries, Russia, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Nigeria had the highest overall levels of government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion.”
A peep into the data collected by Pew suggests that, on a scale of 10, India’s government restrictions index (GRI) as well as social hostilities index (SRI) has deteriorated. If it was 4.5 for GRI in December 2014, it reached 5.1 in December 2015. As for SRI, it was 7.9 in December 2014, which reached 8.7 in December 2015.
Worse, compared to the neighbouring Pakistan, India’s SRI is higher by 1.5 points: For Pakistan it is 7.2 in December 2015 (down from 8.1 in a year), as against India’s 8.7. As for GRI, Pakistan fares worse that India, with a score of 6.2 in December 2015 compared to India’s 5.1.
GRI has been arrived at by assessing the level of restrictions on religion by governments around the world by seeking answers to 20 questions from several published sources of information, including reports by the U.S. State Department, the United Nations and various nongovernmental organizations.
Answers sought include such questions like whether law allows freedom of religion, whether public preaching by religious groups limited by any level of government, and whether government interfere with worship or other religious practices.
As for SHI, these are based on answers on 13 questions from similar published sources of information. Here, the questions include whether there were incidents of hostility over proselytizing, whether there were crimes, malicious acts or violence motivated by religious hatred or bias, and whether there was mob violence related to religion.
Pointing out that “Egypt had the highest levels of government restrictions in 2015, while Nigeria had the highest levels of social hostilities”, specifically referring to India, the report, referring to Dalits, states, “In India, harassment of Hindus by both government and social groups was reported in 2015.”
It underlines, “Members of the lowest Hindu castes, also known as Dalits, often faced obstacles to basic government institutions and services such as education and health care. The United Nations also reported systematic abuse of Dalits by individuals, and many of the perpetrators of these crimes were not prosecuted by the government.”
“Coupled with harassment of Hindus in several other countries with considerable Hindu populations, including Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, this meant that 1 billion Hindus, or 99% of the world’s Hindus, lived in countries where Hindus were harassed in 2015.”
Examining the world’s 25 most populous countries, the report says, “More than 5 billion people – about 75% of humanity – live in these 25 countries. Among this group of populous countries, Russia, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Nigeria had the highest combined levels of government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion in 2015.”
The report further says, “Looking at just government restrictions, Egypt, China, Iran, Russia and Indonesia had the highest levels in 2015, with each country falling into the ‘very high’ restrictions category.”
It adds, “The fact that none of the 25 most populous countries fell into the ‘low’ social hostilities category may indicate that large populations carry an inherently greater risk of incidents of social hostilities, simply because there are more people.”

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