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US think-tank Freedom House's India score down from 'free' to 'partly free'

US think-tank Freedom Houses India score down from free to partly free

Image for representation only.  Courtesy: BBC

A US think-tank, Freedom House, has classified India as 'partly free', representing a lowering of ranking from 'free' in the body's earlier rating.

India's score has slipped from last year's (reflecting 2019 data) 71/100 to 67/100 this year (reflecting 2020 data).

The grounds on which the rating is based are the governments' (both central and states) crack down on critics during the year, as per the report on global political rights and liberties titled, "Freedom in the world 2021: Democracy under Siege".

The report states: " The ruling Hindu nationalist movement also encouraged the scape-goating of Muslims, who were disproportionately blamed for the spread of the virus..", besides the 'ham-fisted lockdown'.

"Rather than serving as a champion of democratic practice and a counter weight to authoritarian influence from countries such as China, Mr Modi and his party are tragically driving India itself toward authoritarianism", the report comments.

As regards the media in India, the report accepts that the private media "are vigorous and diverse, and investigations and scrutiny of politicians do occur", but "attacks on press freedom have escalated dramatically under the Modi government and reporting has become significantly less ambitious in recent years".

The rights body also comments, "Separately, revelations of close relationships between politicians, business executives and lobbyists ln one hand and leading media personalities and owners of media outlets on the other, have dented public confidence in the press."

The report classifies China as 'not free' and the country dropped a point from last year to 9/100.

As for the US, the Freedom House score this year has slipped by three points to 83/100 due mainly to the risky state of American democracy during the January 6 attack on the Capitol. It cited the Trump presidency's 'unprecedented attacks' on US democracy. The report also commented "The US will need to work vigorously to strengthen its institutional safeguards, restore its civic norms and uphold the promise of its core principles for all segments of society if it is to protect its venerable democracy and regain global credibility."

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