Denial of visa to USCIRF: Not a good idea

We have nothing to hide should be more open to world

When the news surfaced in media about the denial of visa to team of US Commission of international religious freedom to visit India this news did not get much attention from  media was it  much consumed with the JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar who have been released from Jail on conditional bail after being charged with sedition for being part of an event on 9th February 2016 to commemorate and eulogizing the hanged terrorist Afzal Guru found guilty of masterminding the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001 and the JNUSU  president Kanhaiya Kumar was charged to be part of this  event where anti India slogan were raised which amount to be seditious in its nature.

In the background of this highly charged debate inside the country the news surfaced that US Commission for International religious freedom who is associated with US state department and monitors the situation of religious freedom in various countries and  based  on its input and research it make and present  this  report every year.

Since 2009 this US body is trying to visit India to read the situation on ground but this commission has not been provided the visa to visit the country.


Like previous  years Indian Government came out with its response and defended its decision to denial of visa as this Commission has no locus standi on Indian matters to pass its judgment .

This stand of Indian government had been consistent  irrespective of who is the ruling party at centre because in 2009 it was the Congress led UPA which denied the visa to the team of religious freedom Commission.

In 2009 the then UPA government denied visa because it was afraid of being used this visit by US religious freedom commission as an ammunition from opposition to target the nationalistic credentials of UPA leaders particularly Mrs Sonia Gandhi whose foreign national originality always had the potential to convert into mass propaganda so the then UPA Government decided to not enter  into this debate.

But why the visit of religious freedom Commission can not be avoided for a long and sooner or later some government need to change its stand because   in every report of US Commission for religious Freedom India has been underrated as it has categorized India in the two tiers with some worse violators of religious freedom . In year 2013 the writer of these lines wrote an article on the report of this commission which it submitted to its US state department and writer  called it Selective in its approach but at the same time writer has occasions to talk to  those people from USA who are associated in somehow with this Commission and understand the minds of people involved with this commission had been mostly agree with the observations of writer   but at the same time they suggested that if India  find that it has been wrongly put in two tier with other nations whose record and character on religious freedom even cannot be compared with this secular vibrant diversified nation  even in  remote way  then India needs to open herself to this commission and allow not only this commission team to visit India to study  but insure that no communication gap happen on the issue of religious freedom and commitment of Indian government to  protect the religious rights and dignity of all section of society in country is more debated with several agencies rather than be closed to this issue to allow the alleged misconception if there  is any to get propagated.

The writer find himself more than agree to this idea because most of the incidents which are reported in the Commission report are sometimes does not portray the real picture as sometimes few local incidents which does not have any motivation of religious discrimination and happens for some other factors also get them categorized and become part of the narrative which give the wrong impression on the bigger picture of India in the world which is mostly secular and diversified in its nature.

In this globalised world where the proliferation of social media, platform of blogging and web journalism has empowered  any individual to  become writer, publisher and distributor at the same time and in this  new era of technology the definitions of state and its limitations to censor things according to its  definitions and priorities has changed    the states  communication as well as relations with other countries and if these narratives and definitions  have not been changed or redefined officially even in that situation also things have changed drastically at unofficial level and unlike 19th and 20th century the definitions of  state, its authority  , its priorities and role of institutions as wells as  its relations with its citizen and outside world is not totally based on the nation state theory of Bestphelian notion and  the role of non state actors and extra territorial exposure of human being has put a challenge before the states to redefine the old notions of nationalism and its engagement and exposure  with outside world and various agencies should be more welcomed as in this new fast changing world any individual or state  cannot afford communication gap which can perpetuate the perception into reality even if it is  not remotely associated with the substantial truth.

It would have been the ideal situation when US religious freedom commission team had visited India and would have met several stake holders to read the complexity of issues related to the religion in India and develop new understanding to differentiate substance to perception.