Wednesday, December 7, 2022

‘Religion, religious practice, conversion and poverty’

By Abhijit Roy

When the apex court of the country asks the Central Government to take steps considering forced conversion as a challenging issue, then the seriousness of the issue can be realised. Though the constitution has guaranteed the religious freedom in the country which the top court too has accepted, but that does not allow the freedom for forced conversion. Such efforts are not only a challenge to national security but also hinder citizens’ right for freedom of religion and conscience. The court has directed the central government to take immediate steps in this regard and file its reply by November 22 so that the matter can be taken up for hearing in the last week of the month.

There have been allegations for a long time that domestic and foreign agencies are trying to change the cultural character of the country through religious conversion. Especially in tribal and backward areas, such efforts are being carried out by trickery and money power. Actually, this crisis is also a question arising out of social and economic inequality in our society. The resentment prevailing in those sections of the tribals and the groups coming in the lower caste hierarchy who did not get the right to equality is made a weapon of religious conversion.

This resentment is also visible in societies plagued by ethnic pride. Illiteracy is also a major reason behind it. Undoubtedly, the efforts of mass conversion also change the social fabric over time. These efforts later become carriers of social conflict. At the same time, there is also a means of achieving political interests. This can later pose a challenge to national security as well. The court has also expressed such concern. Though in few states the laws to prevent conversions are already in rule, but that too have not proved its effectiveness in curbing the root cause of conversion. This is the reason why there has been a demand for an effective anti-conversion law at the national level.

(Author is a Jamshedpur based columnist. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected])

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