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Thinktank ‘Thinks’ Aloud!

There have been repeated allegations that the Democratic Rights of the People of India are being violated under the rule of the Narendra Modi Government. The Government of India has also been accused of interfering in Individual Freedom! Now, Freedom House – one US-based, Government-funded Non-profit Non-Governmental Organisation that conducts Research and Advocacy on Democracy, Political Freedom, and Human Rights – has claimed in its latest report that India is partly free. As expected, the report has irked the Government of India…

Until 2020, India was listed as a Free Nation. However, the 2021 Annual Report of Freedom House, titled Freedom of the World, has identified the South Asian Nation as “partially free” in terms of Democratic Rights and Freedom of Expression. In 2018, India got 77 out of 100 in the Independence Index. This year, India managed to score 67! As per the report, Communal Intolerance has increased in India since 2014, while Political and Individual Freedom has decreased, and Human Rights activists and Journalists have been put under pressure by the Government. The Freedom House has also mentioned the issue of filing Sedition Cases against members of a particular religious group during the anti-CAA (Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019) Movement in the Indian capital of New Delhi in 2019-20. Among the most significant Human Rights issues include abuses by the Police and Security Forces in the tune of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, rape, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, and lengthy pre-trial detention.

As the publication of the report has created problems for India to maintain its Global Image, the Government has claimed that the report is misleading! It has argued that although Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is ruling the nation, other parties or coalition are in power in different Indian provinces. As the responsibility of maintaining law and order lies with the concerned Government in a particular Province in the Federal Structure of India, it is inappropriate to blame a party or a Government! For his part, Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said: “We have a set of self-appointed custodians of the world who find it very difficult to stomach that somebody in India is not looking for their approval, is not willing to play the game they want to play. So, they invent their rules, their parameters, press their judgements and make it look as if it is some kind of global exercise.

Interestingly, the Fundamental Rights recognised by the Indian Constitution are: Equality before the Law and Equal Protection of the Law (Article 14), Right against Exploitation (Articles 23 and 24), Freedom of Conscience and the Right to Freely Profess, Practice, and Propagate Religion (Article 25), etc… Unfortunately, the Indian nationals are deprived from enjoying these Freedoms. Perhaps, it is the time for India, the world’s Largest Democracy, to learn from the US, the world’s Oldest Democracy, how to safeguard the Freedom of Speech, especially after the Black Lives Matter Movement!

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