“The Indian Government’s alarming departures from democratic norms under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could blur the values-based distinction between Beijing and New Delhi,” warns the Freedom in the World report published by US democracy watchdog Freedom House.
India’s score has crashed considerably and has shown the biggest decline among the world’s 25 largest democracies. India has now been placed among the countries in the spotlight.
‘Countries in the spotlight’ is a list of countries where important political developments in 2019 affected the democratic trajectory and deserve special scrutiny in 2020.
Here is all that you need to know:
Alarming departures from democratic norms
World’s largest democracy is targeted for a “harsh crackdown on political rights and civil liberties.” This includes the almost seven-month internet shutdown in the formerly autonomous region of Kashmir, the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizenship in Assam which rendered millions stateless, brutal suppression of protests, and the harassment against journalists and academics.
All of these issues were also highlighted as “threatening the democratic future of a country long seen as a potential bulwark of freedom in Asia”.
The report also criticized the suppression of protests in the country. According to the report, “Tens of thousands of Indians from all religious backgrounds have taken to the streets to protest this jarring attack on their country’s character, but they have faced police violence in return.”
The report had criticized the Modi government for distancing the country from the “founding commitment to pluralism and individual rights, without which democracy cannot long survive”.
It says, “Several of India’s neighbours have persecuted religious minorities for many years. But instead of stressing the contrast with its own traditions and seeking to propagate them abroad, India is moving toward the lower standards of its region.’’
Established democracies suffered a decline
The report also suggested that 25 established democracies including the United
States and Australia suffered overall declines over the past 14 years. It also criticized US President Donald Trump who “failed to exhibit a consistent commitment to a foreign policy based on the principles of democracy and human rights.”
While Australia scored a 97 out of 100 which is one of the highest democracy scores in the world, the raids against journalists and detention of asylum seekers reduced its point by one point for 2020.
The other countries that are in the spotlight along with India are Haiti, Iran, Nigeria, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, Hong Kong, and Ukraine.
Freedom House was formally established in New York in 1941 to promote American involvement in World War II and the fight against fascism. The Freedom in the World report — brought out annually since 1971, maps the level of freedom in each country.