Global freedom watchdog report degrades India’s Position from a free country to a partly free nation. The report shows India’s score decreased from 71 to 67, with 100 being the ranking for the most free country.
So the Question that must pop up in the minds of the aware citizen, Are we heading towards an Authoritarian regime under the Narendra Modi led BJP government. Washington based noted think tank Freedom House demoted India to a partly free nation citing rights and civil liberties have been eroded since bjp came to power in 2014. The process further exacerbated with the coming up of bjp to power again in 2019.
Certain facts and figures have been taken into account by the press during the last two years following the government policies. It underscored a pattern in which the government and its allies have pursued violence and discriminatory policies affecting muslim population and a crackdown on the expression of dissent by media, academics, pressure groups, and civil society groups.
The report says,” The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its state level allies have continued to use their overbearing hands on the critics during the year and their response to COVID 19 resulted into a ham fisted lockdown that resulted into the displacement of migrants on bare foots and the scapegoating of the muslims for the spread of the virus as cited by the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High court.”
The organization assesses certain questions and there answers are the proof of the India’s derailed position in the Global freedom watchdog report.
“Are individuals free to express their views and dissent on political and other sensitive topics without the fear of being retributed by the government?” As per the report, India’s score has declined due to the arbitrary and despotic use of sedition and other charges to deter free speech including the criticism of government policies like citizenship law and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Is there freedom for NGOs that are engaged in human rights and governance-related work?” This score has declined owing to the amendments to the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act and the freezing of Amnesty International’s assets, leading to the shutdown of the organization’s India operations.
The question about Independent Judiciary has also contributed in India’s demoted position due to the appointment of Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha, certain progovernment decisions by the Supreme Court and the subsequent transfer of a high profile judge after he ruled against the government’ political interests.
Another factor that declined the score is the migrant crisis and the violent and the discriminatory enforcement by the police and civil vigilantes that resulted in the curbing of the fundamental right to enjoy freedom of movement.
Frequent Internet Shutdowns, blocking of contents, spreading of fake news disinformation and hatred speech by the political leaders, online harrasmemt and trolling, coordinated spyware campaigns have added insults the injury.
It also highlights 2020 events such as the Northeast Delhi riots in February and September’s acquittal of 32 accused in a 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case.
The report has gained significance as it shows that less than 20 per cent of the World’s population now live in a free country – the smallest proportion since 1995.
We, rather than serving as a champion of democracy and a counterweight to authoritarianism like China, are tragically driving India towards authoritarianism.