Anurima Bhargava, an Indian-American civil rights lawyer, has been appointed as a Commissioner to the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent government entity established by the US Congress to monitor, analyse, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad.
Bhargava is a civil rights lawyer with extensive experience in various roles advocating for members of underrepresented communities, including at the US Department of Justice and the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF).
The USCIRF is currently headed by Tibetan-American Tenzin Dorjee. Dorjee commented on Bhargava’s appointment, saying, “I commend Leader Pelosi for this superb appointment. With an impressive background and a demonstrated commitment to advocating for members of minority communities in the United States and abroad, Anurima Bhargava brings an important new perspective that will enhance the work of the Commission, especially on democratic India, with whom the United States has a long and proud relationship.
“I very much look forward to working with her to advance the fundamental right of all people to exercise their freedom of religion or belief,” Dorjee said in an official release.
Who is Anurima Bhargava?
Born and raised in Chicago, Bhargava is currently the founder and president of Anthem of Us, which describes itself as “a strategic advisory firm that works with educational institutions and corporations to promote dignity and justice for all”.
Besides her work at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the LDF, Bhargava has served as a fellow at the Open Society Foundations and at Harvard University.
Prior to joining the DOJ in 2010, Bhargava served as the Director of the Education Practice at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where she was actively engaged in litigation and advocacy to expand educational access and opportunities for students of color.
She has previously worked at the New York City Department of Education and has also been a clerk in the Southern District of New York. Prior to joining law school, she served as an investment banking analyst, and field directed a Congressional campaign.
Bhargava completed her law degree from Columbia Law School and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College.
She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations as well as a Truman National Security Fellow. Bhargava is regularly consulted on films and has produced some. She has both chaired and served on numerous boards.
What is the USCIRF?
The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan US federal government commission. It is the first of its kind in the world, and is dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.
The commission reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the Congressional leadership of both political parties.
Some of the commission’s functions include documenting the conditions of religious freedom abroad through meeting several senior government officials, NGO representatives, victims of persecution, and others.
Additionally, the USCIRF issues reports with policy prescriptions, press releases, and journal articles, including the global use of blasphemy laws, the status of religious minorities in countries like Russia, Iran, and Pakistan, among other issues.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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