For the first time in history since 1997, India has come down from its “free” recognition to a “partly free” country in a report formulated by a US-based research organization Freedom House. The group held Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his administration responsible for the worsening civil rights situation in the nation that resulted in the downgrade.
In its annual ranking of different democratic countries in the world, the association funded by the US government said that the regress was due to the continuous discrimination of Modi against Indian Muslim citizens and rise in the harassment of government critics and journalists who spoke against the Centre.
Furthermore, the ‘Freedom in the world’ report cited “a multi-year pattern in which the Hindu nationalist government and its allies have presided over rising violence and discriminatory policies.”
The list of events that contributed to the downfall in 2020 included religious riots of Delhi, sedition laws used against government critics and the problems faced by the migrants across the country when PM Modi suddenly declared a lockdown last year in what he said was an attempt to control the spread of covid-19.
Along with India, there are 72 other nations in the report that downgraded due to the political rights and civil liberties decreased there, leading to the effect touching three quarters of the global population. The Washington-based organization stated in its report that takes 210 countries into account that this year’s report is the worst since 2006 as the highest number of countries now have been labelled as “Not Free”. Joining India were democracies like the US too while authoritarian nations like Belarus, Venezuela and China also formed a part of the list.
With this new change in the report as India isn’t found to be a free country anymore, it means that less than 20% of the total population of the world live in a ‘free’ nation now. Again, this is the smallest percentage since 1995, according to the report. It added that since 2014 when PM Modi started ruling democratic India, the changes “form part of a broader shift in the international balance between democracy and authoritarianism, with authoritarians generally enjoying impunity for their abuses and seizing new opportunities to consolidate power or crush dissent”.
The website of Freedom House says that it was established officially in 1941 in New York for promoting the US’s role in World War II and the battle against fascism.