The State as Religious Gatekeeper: Human Rights, Resistance and Indian Anti-Conversion Laws

Ashwani Peetush & Jay Drydyk, eds., Human Rights: India and the West, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015)

Posted: 25 May 2014 Last revised: 23 Jun 2015

See all articles by Amar Khoday

Amar Khoday

University of Manitoba - Faculty of Law

Date Written: December 15, 2012

Abstract

Religious conversions in India inextricably implicate human rights. In this chapter, Amar Khoday explores the legal and political aspects of the controversies surrounding such conversions. Khoday argues that anti-conversion laws in India are often a tool of upper castes in Hindu society to prevent lower-caste Dalit communities from enacting forms of social and political resistance. In recent years, state governments in India have placed a number of limits on the ability of individuals to convert. Khoday argues that such legislative manoeuvres are problematic for a number of reasons. They intrude into individual autonomy and the right to follow one’s chosen religion and religious identity. These statutes portray those seeking to convert as helpless victims rather than agents making choices in their own best interests. Furthermore, these acts intervene to counteract socio-cultural resistance of Dalits, Scheduled Castes, and Indigenous groups against dominant caste communities seeking to preserve their power.

Suggested Citation

Khoday, Amar, The State as Religious Gatekeeper: Human Rights, Resistance and Indian Anti-Conversion Laws (December 15, 2012). Ashwani Peetush & Jay Drydyk, eds., Human Rights: India and the West, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015) , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2440972

Amar Khoday (Contact Author)

University of Manitoba - Faculty of Law ( email )

224 Dysart Rd.
University of Manitoba Faculty of Law
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2
Canada

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