USCIRF Report: ‘Propaganda masquerading as report’

By what logic does the US government arrogate itself the right to monitor religious and other freedoms in other countries, when it does not produce a similar report on the US itself?

By TP Saran

‘Propaganda masquerading as report’ – That is how the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India (MEA) described the 2024 Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) during a news conference that he held after the report was released in May. The Government of India rejected and dismissed the report as biased, distorted, with motivated contents, and was a misrepresentation of facts which discredited the US itself.

The MEA spokesperson considered the timing of the release of the report in May while elections were under way as interference in the internal affairs of India.The report was a half-baked exercise, since it was a mere compilation of events and cases in India, without an effort to understand the complexity of Indian society, which is marked by plurality, diversity and democratic ethos, and has robust constitutional mechanisms.

For the fourth year running, the report recommended that sanctions be taken against India as a ‘Country of Particular Concern.’ That this was not implemented is surely an indictment against the USCIRF by the US government itself.The ‘lack of contextualizing, examining and explaining the complaints, grievances and news reports’made it an incomplete and weak report, not suitable as a basis for taking action.

Other countries may with justification query by what logic does the US government arrogateitself the right to monitor religious and other freedoms in other countries, when it does not produce a similar report on the US itself? After all, all these countries have different social fabrics and realities that have evolved in their specific historical contexts, leading to their having their own customs, traditions, practices and belief systems that differ from that of USCIRF – whose composition is far from being representative of ALL religious denominations in the US itself to start with. There is no reason why they should accept the so-called findings of USCIRF in its self-appointed role as the religious freedom policeman of the globe.

As far as Mauritius is concerned, the report mentions that, ‘Some Christians and Muslims continued to state that the predominance of Hindus in the civil service favored Hindus in government recruitment and promotion, preventing Christians and Muslims from reaching higher positions in the civil service. In general, and dating back years, non-Hindus have stated that they were underrepresented in government, the civil service, and the security services.’

The operative words are the highlighted ones. Some – how many, one, two? And in a balanced report one would expect it to get the views of Hindus also, since they are the other group referred to; so there is clear bias. And how many years back? In the pre-independence era, the Christians too occupied important posts in the civil service, until the Parti Mauricien scared the wits out of them by hoisting the spectre of Hindu hegemony – that never came to be – andtriggered a massive exodus to Australia, even though those concerns never materialized. And besides, the report obviously has never heard of Jacques Ribet, Albert Jupin de Fondaumière, Cyril Morvan, André Feillafé, and Mario Nobin as Commissioners of Police.

Besides, much water has flowed under the bridge since, with expanding industrial and private sectors which recruits from all communities. USCIRF needs to do much more serious homework instead of inventing faultlines where they do not exist.

So, USCIRF report? Hogwash, fit for the dustbin.

* * *

Which party or alliance to vote for?

With anticipated elections on the horizon, many citizens have begun to ask themselves whether it is worth wasting their time going to cast their vote, and if they do so, whom should they vote for. Because, at the end of the day, past experience has shown that as far as governance and scandals are concerned, all regimes in recent decades have been tainted, the difference being only a matter of degree.

It is common knowledge that elections cost money, and that party X or Y may be better prepared with what is known as a ‘war chest’. That is, most likely billions of rupees already amassed for enticing susceptible or floating voters during electoral campaigning.

On the other hand, the ruling regime has the advantage of being in control of the budget, and as we have seen, successive budgets have increased their contents of monetary inducement to targeted constituencies – youth, elderly, pensioners, worker groups, etc. And apparently more appealing measures may be announced as the election date approaches, which are likely to influence voter behaviour. How the Electoral Commissionviews this is another matter.

On the other hand, for the same reasons, it is very difficult for smaller and newer parties to emerge, despite the very logical pledges they make. For example, a look at the40 ‘reforms’ proposed by the Reform Party of Roshi Badhain would convince the citizen who has the welfare of all and the country in mind to cast for that party, but so many complex factors come into play that one can only wait and see.

A better governed Mauritius, politically cleaner, and free of scandals after the forthcoming elections? Alas, we can only dream.

* * *

Is the world in imminent danger of war?

There are two ongoing wars: in Europe the Ukraine-Russia war, in the Middle-East, the Israel-Hamas war. A third one that may be in the making is the China-Taiwan war.

Victor Orban, the president of Hungary who is very close to Russia, has recently assumed his six-month rotating responsibility as president of the European Union. The first thing he has done is to make a visit to Ukraine, which is now being seriously considered to become a member of NATO. This means that both arms and boots on the ground may become a reality on Ukrainian territory, in addition to the generous billions of USD and Euros that the country has been receiving since Zelensky decided to take on Russia’s Putin.

As a headline read, the only entities that are making profit from the Ukraine war are the defence companies. With these new developments they look set to make even more profit. Thousands more will die and more devastation will occur in Ukraine. But who cares? That is the question Europe should answer.

Peace has always been precarious, and it looks set to become even more so now. If war does break out, the world will become an increasingly dangerous place. But again, who cares? Not the war hawks, nor the haters of humanity who triggered the Middle Eastern conflagration…


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