A democracy is inconceivable without freedoms. The precipitous decline of a democracy on a charter of freedom should thus merit serious concern. A new report published by Freedom House, an organization in the United States of America that is committed to upholding the democratic ethos, has revealed that India experienced the steepest decline among 25 large democracies on the freedom index.
New Delhi’s achievement has meant that India now finds itself clubbed with such nations as Haiti, Iran, Nigeria, Sudan and others – countries that have distinctly chequered records in maintaining their democratic trajectory. Illiberal democracy, India has shown, need not be a contradiction in terms.
The Freedom House report is illuminating. For instance, it reveals the hollowness of the claim that elections are a democracy’s Tebbit test. The Narendra Modi government has been legitimately elected twice over, but its record in protecting liberties, Freedom House argues, remains a cause for concern. Three of Mr Modi’s moves have caused India’s slide on the freedom index – the unilateral decision to revoke Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir; the implementation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam and the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Parliament.
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