Editor’s Pick

Theme of the Month – Religious Minorities

This August, SPRF India looks at the status of religious minorities. According to the 2011 census, minorities such as Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains make up 20% of India. With the latest reports reflecting a gross deterioration of the rights of religious minorities and increasing impunity of their aggressors, it’s critical to uphold the perspective of the communities and ensure their experiences are not mislaid.

We’ve curated our top favourites from SPRF’s research on religious minorities. 

From the SPRF Photo Archive

“However, both Fatima and Bishaka had their citizenship challenged by the Foreigners Tribunal even after being declared an Indian citizen earlier. They, and many others, have had to undergo gruelling experiences to argue their nationalities repeatedly until the Foreigners Tribunal found expendable reasons to dismiss their claims altogether.”

Unsettled Identities by Anuj Arora

Refugees, on account of being displaced, deal with the question of identity and belonging quite differently compared to the general population. They exist both inside and outside the definitions of nationality and community.  Many complain of wages being denied by contractors and factory owners. ‘They hire us but they pay half of the promised wages or don’t pay at all; they take advantage of us for not having any other choice,’ says Mohammad Faruq.” 

From SPRF Research

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The recognition of religiouscultural rights and their protection is problematic as the safeguarding of these differences in cultural practices is implicated in the notion of self or, to say, the notion of protecting one’s identity, which has come to be constituted as ‘male’ (Menon 1998: 250).”

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“Often, wearing the hijab, or not wearing it, is a choice that Muslim women make as a means to assert their identity in public spaces. However, most of the Indian society fails to recognise this agency practised by Muslim women and instead deem it oppressive. The debate on it [hijab] being an essential religious practice deprives these women of their choice and agency.”

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For a section of the country’s population, the process of NRC, in combination with the 2019 amendment to the Citizenship Act, could lead to loss of citizenship and mass detentions, particularly of Muslims in the country. For others, the amendment and the NRC seem to be two separate issues – the former about providing Indian citizenship to non-muslim minorities facing religious persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and the latter about screening out illegal migrants residing in the country.”

Curated by the SPRF editorial team.