“Under Modi, India appears to have abandoned its potential to serve as a global democratic leader, elevating narrow Hindu nationalist interests,” the report said.
In the United States government-funded non-governmental organization’s annual Freedom in the World rankings, India’s status on Freedom House’s report on political rights and civil liberties was lowered to “partly free”. The organization’s report, in 2020, had ranked India as “free”.
The report read: “Political rights and civil liberties in the country have deteriorated since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, with increased pressure on human rights organizations, rising intimidation of academics and journalists, and a spate of bigoted attacks, including lynchings, aimed at Muslims.”
“The decline only accelerated after Modi’s reelection in 2019,” the report added.
The fall in India’s status from the “upper ranks of free nations” may have a damaging impact on international democratic standards, the report said, adding that the Narendra Modi-led Indian government and its allies in states continued to crack down on dissent during 2020. The coronavirus-induced lockdown “resulted in the dangerous and unplanned displacement of millions of internal migrant workers”, the report noted.
The Freedom House report further added: “The ruling Hindu nationalist movement also encouraged the scapegoating of Muslims, who were disproportionately blamed for the spread of the virus and faced attacks by vigilante mobs.”
“Rather than serving as a champion of democratic practice and a counterweight to authoritarian influence from countries such as China, Modi and his party are tragically driving India itself toward authoritarianism,” it said.
The report was referring to the vilification of members of the Tablighi Jamaat last year.
The report also highlighted the laws against religious conversions that BJP-ruled states have adopted, saying that critics fear this “will effectively restrict interfaith marriage in general”.
“Under Modi, 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,” the report stressed.