More from RELS 348: Empire, Colonialism and Religion

B.C.’s story “India, America and religion Judges of faith,” Economist: Religion and public policy, Jan 30th 2015 talks about the different understandings and applications of religion within the boundaries of the USA and India. The article explains that Obama, similarly to the previous US president Jimmy Carter, began a meeting between officials of the two countries giving a welcoming message explaining that we, as humans, are all equal before god and that India would “succeed” as long as it is not fragmented by different local cultures and religions. When back Carter stated that “In God We Trust”, India contradicted with the “Truth Alone Prevails”. The two phrases were seen as interchangeable. These views are due to the fact that both countries had a common influential ancestor in the past: the British Empire. That influence left a long lasting mark in their jurisprudence systems. However, there are still differences between the two countries’ judicial systems. For example, the American judicial system finds it difficult to accept religious truths. This is the reason why many Muslims in the American prisons are not allowed to have beards. Despite that the USA judges may not like to take part in dealing with religious problems, these cases are inevitable as religion is an important part of humans’ life. Unlike in the States, in India one is allowed to make various changes into one’s religious beliefs and the court is the one who is supposed to make the final decision. For example, in India one could change his religion and be allowed to remarry to another person. However, not all are allowed to make such changes. For example, Indian Catholics who have demanded a version of the Bible translated into Tamil that does not clearly outline the concept of sin. Because of the vagueness of the concept’s definition the book was not accepted in the Indian court.

The article by B.C. does a great job of providing a generalized outlook of the two country’s judiciary systems. What was more curious to realize after reading it, was that despite the differences in social aspect, India and the States have retained a cultural, commercial, and structural similarities from the British Empire. A point that the article could have expanded more on is information about what other aspects of the British common law was retained in these two countries. For example, a similar article by Robets and Berk called “Obama jets off to Delhi as US and India enter new era of goodwill”, posted in The Guardian, adds more about Indian people and culture and their views on the Indian independence from the British Empire. Furthermore, one could learn more about that relationship on pages 112-113 from the book “lust of knowing the orientalists and their enemies” by Irwin. Irwin outlines some focal points, like the establishment of East Indian Company by British Empire and the overall impact of Britain over the trade and the common social and religious perceptions of the life and responsibilities of the people living in India at the time. Thus, one could conclude that the British Empire was very strong at the time because its influence in India and the States could still be seen today.

Identifier: Taz

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