Sunday, April 11, 2021

U.S. Think Tank Raises Alarm Over Worsening Civil Rights In India, Calls It ‘Partly Free’

A report by the US think tank Freedom House has highlighted what may be seen as worsening civil rights in India. It has described India as “partly free” in the ranking.

The ‘Freedom in the World 2021’ report has downgraded India to 67th position from the 71st a year ago.

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The report has categorized 211 countries into three categories — free, partly free, and not free, assessing their performance on a scale of 100.

The latest report said political rights and civil liberties in India had deteriorated since 2014 because of increased scrutiny on rights organizations, rising intimidation of academics and journalists, and a “spate of bigoted attacks, including lynchings, aimed at Muslims”.

According to the report, there has been a rise in religiously motivated attacks against “certain minority groups — notably Muslims, scheduled castes (Dalits), and scheduled tribes (Adivasis)”.

The country has also declined dramatically in the internet freedom index for a third consecutive year. It mentions, in 2019, the government resorted to multiple internet shutdowns across the country due to the protests around the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act and complete communication shutdown in Kashmir in the backdrop of abrogation of Article 370.

In 2020, during the nationwide lockdown, the report mentions the Muslims were targeted for the spread of coronavirus. Delhi riots in February 2020, following the anti-CAA protests, are also raised concern in the report.

It says there has been “a multi-year pattern in which the Hindu nationalist government and its allies have presided over rising violence and discriminatory policies.”

The US government-run think tank noted that the change in India’s status from “Free” to “Partly Free” was the most significant for 2020, “meaning less than 20 percent of the world’s people now live in a Free country — the smallest proportion since 1995″.

It said and the Modi government’s response to COVID-19 included a ham-fisted lockdown that resulted in the dangerous and unplanned displacement of millions of internal migrant workers.”

In contrast to India’s “partly free” status, Finland, Norway, and Sweden remain the freest countries with a perfect score of 100 while Tibet and Syria are the least free.

The think tank noted that the change in India’s status from “Free” to “Partly Free” was the most significant for 2020, “meaning less than 20 percent of the world’s people now live in a free country — the smallest proportion since 1995″.

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