36 per cent of Hindus don’t want a Muslim as their neighbour, while 16 per cent of Muslims would not accept Hindus as their neighbours.
A new Pew Research Center survey of religion across India, “based on nearly 30,000 face-to-face interviews of adults conducted in 17 languages between late 2019 and early 2020 (before the COVID-19 pandemic)” says that Indians say it is important to “respect all religions”, but major religious groups see little in common and want to live separately.”
“Indians see religious tolerance as a central part of who they are as a nation. Across the major religious groups, most people say it is essential to respect all religions to be “truly Indian.” And tolerance is a religious as well as the civic value: Indians are united in the view that respecting other religions is a very important part of what it means to be a member of their own religious community,” reads the report.
Free to practice
The survey finds that an overwhelming majority of Indians say they are free to practice their religions, but many see themselves as different from the followers of other faiths.
“The majority of Hindus see themselves as very different from Muslims (66%), and most Muslims return the sentiment, saying they are very different from Hindus (64%). There are a few exceptions: Two-thirds of Jains and about half of Sikhs say they have a lot in common with Hindus. But generally, people in India’s major religious communities tend to see themselves as very different from others,” it says.
Most of the Indians, 67 per cent feel stopping religious intermarriage is a high priority. 67 per cent Hindus and 80 per cent of Muslims want to stop women from marrying into other religions. And, 65 per cent of Hindus and 76 per cent of Muslims say it is very important to stop men from marrying outside their faith.
While many Hindus (45%) are “fine with having neighbours of all other religions – be they Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist or Jain”, an equal share (45%) say “they would not be willing to accept followers of at least one of these groups.”
More than one-in-three Hindus (36%) do not want a Muslim as a neighbour.
Among Jains, more than half (54%) would not accept a Muslim neighbour, although nearly all Jains (92%) say they would be willing to accept a Hindu neighbour.
“Indians, then, simultaneously express enthusiasm for religious tolerance and a consistent preference for keeping their religious communities in segregated spheres – they live together separately. These two sentiments may seem paradoxical, but for many Indians, they are not,” reads the report by PRC.
NRI Affairs News Desk