Protests over religious conversions set back reform agenda

PM Narendra Modi's reform agenda suffered a setback as protests erupted in Parliament and in the streets over a campaign by Sangh-linked groups to convert Muslims and Christians to Hinduism. The melee during which Parliamentarians threw papers and swarmed to the centre of the Upper House forced the suspension of the session, preventing the government from tabling a bill to increase foreign participation in the insurance sector. In effect PM Modi is facing a backlash for not doing enough to rein in hard line affiliate groups that are threatening India's secular foundations. A fifth of India's 1.2 billion people belong to faiths other than Hinduism and conversion is a sensitive issue with groups saying many poor Hindus were forced over the ages to convert to Christianity and Islam. The PM has not yet commented on the conversions issue, leaving it to colleagues to tackle the criticism.