A good message was delivered in the halls of the Senate today, all the speakers had one common aspiration; religious freedom in India. Let every Indian choose to live his/her life in the pursuit of his happiness.
Every Nation and group has a percentage of a population that believes in narrow nationalism, and fascism, and such ideology destroyed Germany, and the same Nazi doctrine is penetrating Indian democracy. We need to guard India against becoming another Taliban or Nazi nation. Let it be clear, crystal clear that Hinduism is not the same as Hindutva, just as Islam is not the same as Islamism or Christianity is not the same as KKK. These are extremist ideologies with the belief that they are a superior race, or a religious group and all others need to bow to them and live as second-class Citizens. One of the Hindu speakers said that Hindutvadis are not, and cannot be called Hindus in any sense of the word.
Thursday, November 20, 2018, Capitol Hill, Washington DC — The Indian American Muslim council organized a talk on Capitol Hill today about Indias religious freedom. The meeting was held at Russell Senate building Room # 385.
“Religious Freedom in India: A Briefing on Capitol Hill” November 29th, 2018 / 2:00-3:30 PM SR-385 Russell Senate Office Building (RSOB) 2 Constitution Ave NE, Washington, D.C.
The list of Speakers
Opening: Suhail Syed, Head, IAMC-DC
Greg Mitchell – Moderator | Co-Chair, IRF Roundtable
Dr, Katrina Lantos Swett, Keynote Speaker | Ex-chair, USCRIF
Ajit Sahi, Director Advocacy, IAMC
Jeff King, International Christian Concern
Pawn Singh, Organization for Minorities of India
Rev. Dr. Sarah Anderson-Rajarigam, Dalit Christian Scholar and Priest
Vishvajit Singh, Cartoonist-writer
Sunita Vishwanath, Co-founder, Sadhana, Coalition of Progressive Hindus
Matthew Bulger, American Humanist Association
Lisa Henrickson, Hardwired Global
Dr. Mike Ghouse, Center for Pluralism
Khalid Ansari, Coalition for Defense of the Constitution
I have asked all the speakers to share their speeches to publish, and the IAMC will also publish. We should have the videos by Sunday.
Talking Points by Mike Ghouse.
First of all, I want to thank each one of you for attending the event, by the end of the program, you will hear different perspectives on religious freedom in India and why it is important to us. A few speakers will share the nuts and bolts of the violations of religious freedom in India, whereas I will share the need to build cohesive societies.
I admire each one of you for standing up for the freedom of every human regardless of his or her faith or no faith, race or ethnicity. I would encourage those who are focused on defending their lot, that they forget other’s miseries. You may find it more empowering to stand up for the rights of others. I am blessed to have stood up for everyone from Atheists to Zoroastrians and every one in between including the LGBTQ community and hope to get that book “Standing up for others” next year.
I am pleased to acknowledge two individuals who have stood up for people other than their own. Here is Greg Mitchell, who runs the International Religious Freedom RoundTable and has stood up for the rights of all human beings regardless of their faith. In his meetings of about 75 individuals representing different organizations, he has Frank Gaffney on one hand who is labeled by Southern Poverty Center as an Islamophobe, and others like me who are inclusive of all humanity. We all have to work together. I welcome Ajit Sahi, who is doing precisely that, he is a practicing Hindu by faith, but standing up for the rights of Muslims of India.
I am Mike Ghouse with the Center for pluralism, and I am committed to building cohesive societies, societies where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. Indeed, that is the inherent purpose of all forms of governments, religions and social organizations.
My short talk involves five key points:
- Origins of Freedom
- Harmony and cohesiveness
- The necessity of Dialogue
- What’s happening in India concerning harmony
- Why should it matter to us, the Americans?
I wrote an article called, “India’s prosperity hinges on religious freedom.” A link to the article – https://centerforpluralism.com/indias_prosperity_hinges_on_religious_freedom/
1. Origins of Freedom
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
How did this come about?
The story of Adam narrated, here is a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vQs1IcSdYA
- Harmony and cohesiveness.
Everything in nature is programmed to be in balance. The planetary system, the milky way, the seasons, the tilt of the earth.
Even our bodies are designed to function normally – all body parts have to work cohesively for someone to function normally.
Two choices – what we eat and drink
How we interact with each other to preserve the harmony
Free will is embedded in us.
- The necessity of Dialogue
Two major products of creation are life and matter. The matter is fully programmed to be in balance, look at the planetary systems, change of seasons affected by the precise tilt of the earth. Whereas life is not programmed and runs with free will.
Two forms of life: Animal & Human
When there are conflicts – Animals are given… horns, fangs, and paws to resolve their conflicts.
Whereas humans were not given the same things as Animals to knock each other down or kill the other, they were given the ability to dialogue, so they don’t have to fight to resolve their conflicts.
- What’s happening in India concerning harmony
Every Nation and group has a percentage of a population that believes in narrow nationalism, and fascism. Nazi ideology killed Germany, and the same doctrine is penetrating Indian democracy. We need to guard India against becoming another Taliban or Nazi nation. I want to make it clear that Hinduism is not the same as Hindutva, just as Islam is not the same as Islamism or Christianity is not the same as KKK. These are extremist ideologies with a belief that they are a superior race, or a religious group and all others need to bow to them and live as second-class Citizens.
All my Muslim friends are good people except the Islamists, and likewise, all my Hindu friends are good people, except the Hindutvadis. The RSS party is the fountainhead of the fascist ideology, Hitler is their role model, and they praise him for cleaning up Germany with the Jews. Guruji Golwalker, their leader, was clear – all Christians, Muslims, and Dalits in India have to live as 2nd class citizens if they want to live in India. A few of the leaders from the “Current” political ruling party of India have declared that by 2024, India will be cleaned “Mukt” from Christians and Muslims. They are willing to commit a mass genocide. Their ideas are anathema to the beautiful religion of Hinduism.
The very democracy that elected Mr. Modi is in peril, all the freedoms of press, speech are being taken away. The public institutions are injected with a heavy dose of extreme elements to change the character of the nation. The most significant journalist has been shut down from speaking, if they do, they will be lynched while Mr. Modi will silently watch and nothing about it.
The Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthy attended their event in Chicago while most other Hindu members of Congress declined to participate in. He showed the difference between Hinduism is Hindutva (an extremist ideology) as day and night. He said he followed the Hinduism of Swami Vivekanand, which is an all-embracing Hinduism and not the radical ideology espoused by the hosts of the program.
Let me share the wisdom of Ambassador Brownback, and he had said that If the leaders speak out against atrocities immediately as they happen, things will stop. Period!
What is needed is for Mr. Modi is to speak out immediately after the lynching, raping a six-year-old and killing of Dalits, chasing Christian going to the Church and beating them up…
- I am glad I sent the invitation to many of my Hindu friends and happy to see them here. I beg you to ask Prime Minister Modi to start speaking up against the extremist when they raid Muslim homes to check their refrigerators if there is beef in it and lynch them – what difference do they know between cow meat or the goat meat if they have never seen the Meat? Stop harassing Christians on their way to Church, stop mistreating the Dalits, who have been oppressed under the caste system. Even Sikhs are not spared in the State of Assam and Gujarat.
- As an American Indian, that is all I want – that fellow Indians treat other Indians as equal citizens. Is there anything wrong with it?
The RSS-oriented Hindu Americans want all the freedoms America has to offer, but the same people don’t want the Indian minorities in India to have the same freedoms.
Once again, Hinduism is a beautiful religion, but Hindutva is a dangerous ideology and will hurt Indians severely. In the end, even the staunchest of Hindutvadis will not be spared. The good Germans allowed Hitler to raise, and they did nothing, hoping it was against Jews, but in the end, everyone was a loser. Please do read the article, “India’s prosperity hinges on Religious Freedom.” produced below and published in several newspapers.
Why should it matter to us, the Americans?
Our Jobs are based on our economy and a tied to the Global economy. It is critical for our growth and sustainability to have stable democracies around the world.
A six-year-old was raped, and the men from Mr. Modi’s cabinet honored that rapists, Atheist journalists when criticized the government, they were shot dead, A Dalit (untouchable) groom rides the horse on his wedding processions, he was lynched…. A Muslim was driving cattle in Rajasthan, he was murdered in the open in public like Khashoggi was chopped into pieces, the guy had it videotaped and bragged about killing Muslims, the same guy gets the ticket to run for public office from Mr. Modi’s party.
Do you remember South African Apartheid? Is there an American company that would support discrimination in India, lynchings in India? The average Indian stands to lose if the foreign direct investment is pulled out of India, and this is where we the Americans will fail, we not only miss opportunities to invest, if India becomes Hindu Taliban’s, it will drain us with our resources. It will hurt us Americans. The problem is not with Hinduism, it is with the militant Hindutva ideology. It is a shame that a few Indian Americans support such ideology and fund those organizations.
Did you know Indian government has denied visas to our commissioners from US Commission or Religious freedom?
I ask all my American Indian friends to support us in getting visas to our Commissioners at USCRIF, let them go and investigate and report the facts about the plight of Kashmir Pandits, who were evicted from their own homes, The Sikh Genocide of 1984, Train burning, Massacre of Christians in Assam, Massacre of Muslims in Gujarat.
Let them find the fact – if the Indian government is clean, they will be given a clean chit, if not, they will get a label of the country of particular concern. Which would stop the flow of foreign direct investment and will hurt, yes, hurt a majority of Indians working in the Information technology business, their lives will be ruined, so will the lives of Indian IT Companies.
The Indian government has a choice to get their act together and save the destruction of Jobs of millions of Indians, they need to stop lynching, harassing and killing Dalits, Muslims, Christians, Adivasis, Sikhs, and others.
Corrective actions must be taken to earn the clean chit.
As an American, my interest is religious freedom, the safety of investments, and freedom of speech and secure democracy. Hitler was democratically elected, yet he took the wrong road and destroyed the nation. We need to keep India on the right path.
Please do read the article “Prosperity of India hinges on Religious freedom.”
God bless American, and God bless India
Dr. Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, author and the Executive Director of the Center for Pluralism in Washington, DC. He also officiates interfaith weddings and is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. More at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeghouse/ and www.CenterforPluralism.com
India’s prosperity hinges on Religious Freedom