THE PRESIDENT of the Congress Party, Sonia Ghandi, this week joined the campaign against a new law passed in three Indian states aimed at discouraging Hindus from converting to other faiths, writes Anto Akkara in Delhi.Well good for her, though cynical me wants to say this is all politics. Now wait for the howls from the RSS types going on about her being a foreigner and a Catholic and about to corrupt our pristine Bharatmata and what not. [Yawn]. And, for heaven's sake people, it's Gandhi not Ghandi! It can't be that difficult to get such a simple spelling right, but it's epidemic in the West! One would expect that a publication of the stature of the Tablet would know better ...
Devised by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Jananta Party, the new law requires religious converts to declare their intention a month in advance. Police then investigate whether "force or allurement" is involved.
Mrs Ghandi, chairman of the United Progressive Alliance heading the federal Government in India, said that "these are enactments passed by the state legislatures where the Congress is in opposition. The Congress Party has opposed this strongly". Mrs Gandhi was born a Catholic in Italy and converted to Hinduism when she married Rajiv Ghandi. Under the new laws, anyone convicted of "indulging in religious conversion by force or allurement" faces a three-year jail term and a fine of 20,000 rupees (£236).