Recently the Freedom in the World 2021 report was released which has downgraded India’s status from ‘Free’ to ‘Partly Free’.
Pointing to a decline in global democracy over the last 15 years, the report said that nearly 75% of the world’s population lived in a country that faced deterioration over the last year.
The most free countries in the world, with a score of 100, are Finland, Norway and Sweden, while the least free with a score of 1 are Tibet and Syria.
Q. What are the details of the report?
USA based human rights watchdog Freedom House, which is largely funded through USA government grants, has been tracking the course of democracy since 1941.
Scores are Based on:
Political rights indicators such as the electoral process, political pluralism and participation and government functioning.
Civil liberties indicators related to freedom of expression and belief, associational and organisational rights, the rule of law and personal autonomy and individual rights.
Countries are declared as “free”, “partly free” or “not free”.
India’s score was 67, a drop from 71/100 from last year (reflecting 2019 data) downgrading it from the free category last year (i.e., based on 2020 data).
Q. What are the reasons for India’s Fall?
Freedom of Media:
Attacks on press freedom have escalated dramatically, and reporting has become significantly less ambitious in recent years, citing the use of security, defamation, sedition and contempt of court laws to quiet critical media voices.
Elevation of Hindu Nationalist Interests:
India appears to have abandoned its potential to serve as a global democratic leader, elevating narrow Hindu nationalist interests at the expense of its founding values of inclusion and equal rights for all.
In a year when social media censorship has been hotly seated, while the government shut down Internet connectivity in Kashmir as well as on Delhi’s borders, India’s Internet freedom score dropped to just 51.
Response to Covid-19 included a hamfisted lockdown that resulted in the dangerous and unplanned displacement of millions of internal migrant workers.
It added that Muslims were disproportionately blamed for the spread of the virus and faced attacks by vigilante mobs.
Crackdown on Protesters:
The government intensified its crackdown on protesters opposed to a discriminatory citizenship law and arrested dozens of journalists who aired criticism of the official pandemic response.
Uttar Pradesh’s law prohibiting forced religious conversion through interfaith marriage was also listed as a concern.