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Divergent Perspectives: USCIRF vs. Public Opinion on Religious Freedom in India


The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a U.S. government body, has expressed significant concerns about the state of religious freedom in India in recent years. It has particularly highlighted what it alleges to be a decline in religious freedom, especially since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) assumed power in May 2014. The USCIRF’s annual reports claim that Hindu groups routinely orchestrate violence against Muslims, Christians and other minorities, often with the tacit support of the Indian State and its various organs. This paper examines the commission’s claims regarding worsening religious freedom in India, specifically examining the alignment of these claims with public opinion on the matter. A quantitative analysis of 19 years' worth of Google Trends data is conducted to evaluate if public opinion on religious freedom has significantly worsened, since the BJP came to power. The study examines 9 specific dimensions of religious freedom in India. Results show that 8 out of the 9 dimensions display a statistically significant decline in search volumes after mid-2014. In these 8 cases, the average decline in web searches is more than 75%, indicative of a sharp relative decrease in perception of worsening religious situation in India, which is quite contrary to the USCIRF’s allegation of increasing religious intolerance.

Keywords: USCIRF, religious freedom, public opinion, political communication

Cite Article (APA):

Mukhopadhyay, S. (2023). Divergent Perspectives: USCIRF vs. Public Opinion on Religious Freedom in India. Praxis International Journal of Social Science and Literature, 6(8), 146-158.

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