India Slips In Democratic Freedom Index, Report Blames BJP Government

India is out of the list of Top 25 Democracies in the world in the Democracy Index. In the latest annual report of the ‘World Democracy’, India has been replaced with countries where democracy is in a weak state due to various political-social reasons. The Democratic House of America has been releasing Freedom House since 1971, and it sheds light on the state of democracy in every country in the world.

India is ranked 83rd in the Freedom in the World 2020 report, along with Timor-Leste and Senegal. It is near the bottom of the heap among countries classified as “free”, with only Tunisia receiving lower scores. India’s stock fell four points to 71, which is the worst decline among the world’s 25 largest democracies this year.

A dreamer of a ‘Vishwaguru‘, tells how India is being seen in the world amid this crisis. Whether it is human rights or social equality, India’s position in every index is steadily slipping. There is a need to look into this crisis seriously. 

Dr Ambedkar had warned that political democracy would be inadequate against political individualism. He had emphasised on social democracy. The tragedy of India’s politics has deepened due to the ‘charisma’ of individuals—whereas democracy can only stay strong because of the values ​​that are automated by the values equality and freedom.

Students protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Delhi.

Freedom House was formed in 1946, and since 1971, it issues an assessment report of the democracy of different countries. In its latest report, India is lagging the index due to Kashmir, the CAA and human rights. The report expresses concerns over the democratic status of India, which seems to be in danger.

What Does This Report Mean?

The report traces its functioning from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. It covers 195 countries and provides scores based on political rights indicators such as the electoral process, political pluralism and participation, and government functioning. Also, civil liberties indicators are related to freedom of expression and belief, organisational rights, the rule of law, and personal autonomy and individual rights.

India has the highest decline among the 25 most populous democratic countries included in this report. The report also raises questions on the ending of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The situation in Kashmir is discussed separately in this index. The Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC are also discussed in this report. Along with this, the manner of functioning of the government and attempts to forcefully crush the opposition and mass protest are also discussed.

These three actions have shaken the rule of law in India and threatened the secular and inclusive nature of its political system,” states the report.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah and PM Modi.

The report has also warned that “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.”

The report described the internet blackout in Kashmir as the longest shutdown imposed by democracy. It said that freedom of expression was under threat in India when residents, journalists, academics and others were facing harassment and intimidation while addressing politically-sensitive topics.

India scored 34 out of 40 in the political rights category and 37 out of 60 in the Civil Liberties category, which meant a total score of 71.4, which is less than last year’s score of 75. The report considers “Indian Kashmir” as a separate territory, which saw a drastic reduction from 49 points last year to just 28 this year—shifting it from “partially free” status to “not free“.

India continued to receive “independent” ratings because of the free election practice in India, but the report criticises Modi government for this situation and writes, “While India continues to earn a Free rating and held successful elections last spring, the BJP has distanced itself from the country’s founding commitment to pluralism and individual rights, without which democracy cannot long survive.

The report also likens India to China and states: “Just as Chinese officials vocally defended acts of state repression against Uighurs and other Muslim groups before international audiences in 2019, Modi firmly rejected criticism of his Hindu nationalist policies, which included a series of new measures that affected India’s Muslim populations from one end of the country to the other.’’

It further states that “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.’’

The report also mentions Union Home Minister Amit Shah: “Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah has pledged to repeat the Assam citizens’ register process nationwide, raising fears of a broader effort to render Indian Muslims stateless and ensure citizenship for non-Muslims.

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