Human Rights India is now a “partly free” country: Freedom House...

India is now a “partly free” country: Freedom House report

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Freedom House’s annual report Freedom in the World 2021 report, entitled “Democracy under Siege”, gave India a paltry score of 67, a 4-point decline from last year’s score of 71.

The think tank noted that the fall of India from the upper ranks of free nations in the list could “have a particularly damaging impact on global democratic standards.”

Further stating that the deterioration had “only accelerated after Modi’s re-election in 2019” and was “tragically driving India towards authoritarianism”.

The report highlights the Narendra Modi-led government’s strategic crackdown on dissenters, activists, and journalists under the garb of various anti-national and sedition laws.

Furthermore, the report cites the failure of the government to aid migrant workers stranded in big cities during the covid-19 induced lockdown in March of 2020. Without any help from the government, the staggering number of labourers and workers had been forced to take an arduous journey on foot back to their villages.

The lockdown announced by the Modi government on March 24, 2020 “left millions of migrant workers in cities without work or basic resources”. Many had died on the way – some due to exhaustion, others in road accidents.

In September of last year, the government had stated that they had no data on the number of people who died.

The report goes on to refer to the vilification and villainization of Tablighi Jamaat – an Islamic evangelical organization present in several countries– for spreading the coronavirus on purpose when some members of the organization had tested positive. Thousands of members, many from around the country as well as overseas had attended a meeting on March 9 and 10 in the group’s headquarters in Delhi’s Nizamuddin before moving out to different parts of the country.

They were scapegoated and blamed while many of them faced attacks by vigilante-driven mobs.

The report also highlighted the “love jihad” law, an anti-conversion law, to prohibit forced religious conversion through interfaith marriage, passed by India’s Uttar Pradesh state and the arrest of a number of Muslim men under the law.

“Under Modi, India appears to have abandoned its potential to serve as a global democratic leader, elevating narrow Hindu nationalist interests at the expense of its founding values of inclusion and equal rights for all,” the report said.

The annual report ranks countries on political rights and civil liberties, placing each nation in one of three categories: free, partly free, and not free.

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