Religious Intolerance: Impact of Obama Statement on Indo-US Ties

Religious Intolerance: Impact of Obama Statement on Indo-US Ties

Q. Discuss how President Obama’s statement on shrinking religious tolerance has impacted Indo-US relations.

About the Statement

• President Obama recently released a statement on the shrinking religious intolerance in India

• Indian visit wound up on January 27th, 2015: Statement at that time that countries divided on religious lines cannot move forward

• February 5th 2015: Acts of religious intolerance reported in India would have shocked Mahatma Gandhi

• The recent statements have impacted Indo-US ties in a complex way

• "In past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs— acts that would have shocked Gandhi-ji”: President Obama

Is favorable

1. Statements within span of nine days has created clarity for Indo-US relations

2. India can ascertain the major blockages in the way forward for Indo-US relations

3. India’s history of cultural intolerance has not been altered by aberrations: FM Arun Jaitley: clarification on this score will help resolve the impasse

4. Former European Union Commissioner also emphasised the need for religious toler-ance in India in light of recent vandalism in Churches across India

5. Emphasis on Mahatma Gandhi’s vision for India

6. Deterrent for Hindu hardliners and way forward for Indo-US relations

Is not favorable

1. President’s remarks not directed at anyone in particular but acts of intolerance a blockade for Indo-US relations

2. Hardline Hindu groups see the US interference as unwelcome pattern: This has stalled the way forward for Indo-US relations

3. Constitution and Gandhian ideals: need for these to guide India to ensure its growth

4. PM Modi’s silence on recurring reports of disharmony a key issue for Indo-US ties

5. Ideological universe associated with Modi contains fringe elements

6. Linkage of religious intolerance to political powers

7. Statement detracts from economic agenda and ties in defence and economy that the two nations are seeking to build

8. Lack of defence of constitutional ideas serves to signal India not ready yet for devel-opment and growth with US as a partner

9. Religious discrimination communicates to the world that India is not a society that values its diversity and plurality

10. Religious freedom in India highlighted by Obama; imperative for deepening US-India relations further: Bipartisan US Commission on International Religious Freedom

11. Culture of impunity in Indian society will create clash of communities and prevent effective redressal for victims of incidents; Serve to create negative element in com-merce and trade ties with US companies for India

12. Since 2009, USCIRF designated India as tier 2 country; Gandhi legacy an inspiration which has to be worked for

13. Universal right for individuals to practice their religious faith and ensure freedom of assembly so that society can move forward as a whole

14. Question of inclusivity; extent to which it influences economic and bilateral ties im-portant

15. Events disturbing communal harmony can deter US from investing in India

Questions for Further Consideration

For President Obama:

• Lack of opinion on religious discrimination practiced elsewhere

• Focus on religious intolerance only in India; no such examination of concerns for countries such as Saudi Arabia

For India and its Leaders:

• Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy an inspiration for the US, so it needs to be acknowledged for any further deepening of Indo-US ties

• Mounting violence against any community sets off a chain reaction of terror, so con-taining it is important to prevent further outbreak of violence


• India needs to work on the perceptions of the world community regarding religious intolerance in the nation. This is essential towards furthering Indo-US ties.

• The current leaders at the Centre and opposition need to work jointly to achieve a more safe and secure environment for Indians belonging to minority communities in this nation.

• This can pave the way for economic development and further deepening of ties be-tween India and the US.

• With enough effort, the Modi government will surely deal with the problems and find the solutions to the problem of religious disharmony threatening Indo-US ties. The PM needs to counter the growing threat of religious intolerance if development is on the agenda as excellent Indo-US ties can work wonders for India on multiple scores.
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