CNN World -- The two faces of India

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November 12, 2013 | By Katrina Lantos Swett and Mary Ann Glendon

The following op-ed appeared in CNN World on November 12, 2013.

Editor's note: Katrina Lantos Swett is Vice Chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Mary Ann Glendon is a USCIRF Commissioner. The views expressed are their own.

This month, the world's second most populous nation has resumed its annual commemoration of end-of-year holy days. India's Hindu population, along with Jains and Sikhs, has celebrated Diwali , the festival of lights. Muslims are marking Al Hijra, the Islamic New Year, and Ashura on November 14. Next month, Christians will celebrate Christmas.

Taken together, these holidays are a testament to India's remarkable religious diversity. Besides its Hindu majority, India includes the world's third largest Muslim population, 25 million Christians, and Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Jews, and others. As the world's largest democracy, India officially tolerates this diversity. India's prime minister is Sikh and the ruling Congress Party head is Catholic.

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To interview a USCIRF Commissioner, please contact Kalinda Stephenson at 202-786-0613 or kstephenson@uscirf.gov.

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