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Protecting the rights of minorities and dissident groups in India

Social psychologists lead an open letter to the Prime Minister of India.

24 November 2016

A group of social psychologists and activists in India and internationally have drafted an open letter to the Prime Minister of India, calling for protection of the rights of minorities and dissident groups in India.

The letter states: 'As scientists who study how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are shaped by others, we are aware that such intolerance can have a long-lasting impact on India's social fabric. India is one of the most diverse countries in the world, home to people of many ethnic, religious, caste, tribal groups and philosophic traditions. … a number of recent high-profile events have called into question the extent to which Indians can live lives unencumbered by intolerance.'

Rashmi Nair, James Marshall Public Policy Fellow, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues ([email protected]), did much of the work in writing and leading the petition. One of its authors, Yashpal Jogdand, said: 'Over the past decades, social psychologists have made several important contributions that address structural inequalities and collective violence in various societies. Join us in sharing this knowledge and advocating for the protection of disadvantaged minorities and dissident groups in India!'

Jogdand is a former student of social psychologist Professor Steve Reicher (University of St Andrews), who commented: 'This is a wonderful initiative. Having worked in India over many years, having had Indian students studying communal conflict and the experiences of dalits (so-called 'untouchables'), I am well aware of the growing plight of minorities in the country. I am also aware of the excellent work by social psychologists which addresses this plight. The petition calls upon the government to take the minorities issues seriously and to apply what we have learnt about how to challenge racism and discrimination. But of course, both the issues and the lessons are not unique to India. At a time when hate crime is growing rapidly in the UK, this initiative is not only one which we should support. It is one from which we can learn at home.'

Other signatories include the UK psychologists John Drury, Avril Mewse and Andrew Livingstone. Sign the open letter at