India still ‘partly free’ in Freedom House report

In the case of India, the report said the country had “suffered a series of setbacks to political rights and civil liberties” and it had “showed no signs of reversing course, as notable opposition figures faced arrest and surveillance”.
The harassment of journalists, non-governmental organisations and other government critics has “increased significantly”, while Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis “remain economically and socially marginalised”, the Freedom House report said. (Archive)
The harassment of journalists, non-governmental organisations and other government critics has “increased significantly”, while Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis “remain economically and socially marginalised”, the Freedom House report said. (Archive)
Updated on Mar 03, 2022 06:25 AM IST
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By, New Delhi:

India’s status as a democracy and free society remained “partly free” for the second consecutive year in the annual report of Freedom House, a US government-funded NGO that studies political freedom around the globe.

The report on global political rights and liberties – titled “Freedom in the World 2022 – The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule” – said leaders from Brazil to India have “taken or threatened a variety of anti-democratic actions, and the resulting breakdown in shared values among democracies has led to a weakening of these values on the international stage”.

In the case of India, the report said the country had “suffered a series of setbacks to political rights and civil liberties” and it had “showed no signs of reversing course, as notable opposition figures faced arrest and surveillance”.

There was no immediate response from Indian officials to the report.

When Freedom House downgraded India to “partly free” in the 2021 report, after listing it as “free” in the reports for 2018, 2019 and 2020, the Indian government rejected the findings and described them as “misleading, incorrect and misplaced”.

The government said last year that many states in India were ruled by parties other than the one in power at the national level, and the election process is free and fair and conducted by an independent election body. “This reflects the working of a vibrant democracy, which gives space to those who hold varying views,” it said at the time.

The report gave India a total score of 66 out of 100, one point less than 67 last year. The report alleged “discriminatory policies and a rise in persecution affecting the Muslim population”.

The harassment of journalists, non-governmental organisations and other government critics has “increased significantly”, while Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis “remain economically and socially marginalised”, it said.

It also listed developments during 2021, including the introduction of new rules that make it easier for authorities to compel social media platforms to remove “unlawful content”, the passage or proposal by several states of “love jihad” laws, a media probe that found Pegasus spyware was detected on smartphones belonging to dozens of Opposition leaders, activists, businesspeople and journalists, and the death in custody of 84-year-old Jesuit priest Stan Swamy after he was “arrested on dubious terrorism charges”.

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Saturday, June 25, 2022