Religious conflicts, caste, and racial discrimination have officially shattered India

  • Race, caste, and religion still remain the prime ordering principles in Indian society. 
  • There’s constant news of brutality against minorities and violence between various religious communities. 
  • Since the Modi government came into power, the Hindu-first agenda has only accelerated, and I’m not sure if my country is prepared for more. 
  • Peony Hirwani is a freelance journalist.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Between 1500 and 1000 BC, a caste system was introduced in India where individuals were separated based on their class, or Varna. The aim was to simplify duties, protect the virtue of a caste, and establish order. The lower class became slaves to the high society, and the Dalit community (also known as outcasts or untouchables) were spat on. 

It is safe to say that the rise of this discriminatory system was the start of perhaps the most terrible disparity that still haunts my nation’s spirits. 

You might imagine that current day India would have moved beyond this terrible, ancient system — that untouchability would now be abolished, interfaith marriage wouldn’t be a punishable act, and individuals wouldn’t be victimized based on race. However, race, caste, and religion remain the prime ordering principles in India.

Religious discrimination remains prevalent 

This continued discrimination based on religion is best captured in a recent series of “love jihad”-based laws. “Love jihad” is a conspiracy theory blaming Muslim men for baiting Hindu women into marriage with the aim of forcefully converting them to Islam. Such laws aim to stop forced religious conversions or conversions through fraudulent ways — anyone wanting to convert to another religion would have to submit documents requesting official recognition of the conversation to officials at least two months in advance. 

“Love jihad” laws are currently in place in several Indian states, with additional states announcing their intention to pass similar laws.

“I think in the past decades, there has been a significant loss of empathy for Muslims,” said Somriddho Dasgupta, an androgynous Muslim model, and activist of color. Dasgupta further pointed to the recent ‘corona jihad’ theory, which falsely blames Muslims for the spread of coronavirus in India, as another example of this discrimination. 

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