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Post at: Aug 13 2021

Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation – Pew report

Recent Context

  • Recently, a new Pew Research Centre report, based on a face to face survey of 29,999 Indian adults fielded between late 2019 and early 2020 – takes a closer look at religious identity, nationalism and tolerance in Indian society.

The survey was conducted by local interviewers in 17 languages and covered nearly all of India’s states and Union Territories.

Key Findings of the Report

(1) Indians value religious tolerance, though they also live religiously segregated lives

  • 84% of Indians believe that respecting all religions is very important to being truly Indian.
  • 80% of Indians believe respecting other religions is a very important part of their religious identity.
  • 91% of Hindus felt they have religious freedom.
  • Indians commitment to tolerance is accompanied by a strong preference for keeping religious communities segregated.
  • Large majorities of 6 communities say their close friends come mainly or entirely from their own religious community. That’s true not only for 86% of India’s large Hindu population but also for smaller groups such as Sikhs (80%) and Jains (72%).
  • Roughly two- thirds of Hindus say it is very important to stop Hindu women (67%) or Hindu men (65%) from marrying into other religious communities.
  • 80% muslims say it is very important to stop Muslim women from marrying outside their religions and 76% say it is important to stop muslim men from doing so.

(2) For many Hindus, national identity, religion and language are closely connected:

  • Nearly two-thirds of Hindus (64%) say it is very important to be Hindu to be truly Indian.
  • Among Hindus who say it is very important to be Hindu to be truly Indians, 80% also say it is very important to speak Hindi to be truly Indian.
  • Hindus who strongly link Hindu and Indian identities express a keen desire for religious segregation.
  • Hindus in the Northern (69%) and Central (83%) parts of the country are much more likely than those in the South (42%) to strongly link Hindu identity with national identity.

(3) Dietary laws are central to Indians religious identity:

  • Nearly three quarters of Hindus (72%) say a person cannot be Hindu if they eat beef.
  • 49% of Hindus say a person cannot be Hindu if they do not believe in God or never to go a temple (4.8%).
  • 77% of Muslims say a person cannot be Muslim if they eat pork.

(4) Muslims favour having access to their own religious courts-

  • The survey finds that three quarters of Muslims (74%) support having access to the existing system of Islamic courts, but followers of other religious are far less likely to support Muslim access to Islamic court system.
  • The majorities in all the religious groups were hypothetically willing to accept members of other religious groups as neighbours, but a significant number had reservations.
  • Among Hindus most were willing to live near a member of a religious minority, such as Muslim (57%), a Christian (59%) or a Jain (59%).
  • But together 36% of Hindus said they would not be willing to live near a muslim, with 31% saying the same for Christians.
  • Jains (54%) said they would not accept a Muslim neighbour and 47% saying the same about Christian.
  • Roughly 80% of Buddhist willing to accept a Muslim, Christian, Sikh or Jain as a neighbour and even more (89%) ready to accept a Hindu neighbour.
  • About 78% of muslims said they would be willing to have a Hindu as a neighbour.
  • Geography was a key factor in determining attitudes, with people in the south of India move religiously integrated and less opposed to inter-religious marriages.
  • People in the South are less likely than those in other region to say all their close friends share their religion 29%).
  • Hindu nationalist sentiments are less prevalent in the South.








@  Yogesh Pratap Singh

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