India Moving in the Wrong Direction

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryFor the first time ever, Freedom House, a well-known organization that ranks the amount and quality of freedom in every country around the world, moved India down from “free” status to “partly free” status. This is a serious downgrading of the world’s largest democracy by population. I never thought it possible. As India is becoming one of the world’s most powerful nations militarily, and has the fourth largest navy, it begs for the question whether the rise of India will be of a benign or malignant superpower? India’s growing industrial and technological capacity is impressive, and the country has some of the most talented people in the world.

But a growing number of India’s citizens are now becoming concerned about the direction their country is going. It seems India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, under its current prime minister Nirendra Modi, is it seems trying to make the country into a Hindu majority theocracy. The ones who will lose out in this whole thing the most are India’s largest minority the Muslims. For decades, the Republic of India tried to implement policies that included all of India’s diverse people, including the Muslims. Despite all of the setbacks, these policies were largely successful. The previous Indian administrations tried to keep India a diverse, secular state where all had freedom. India had a good constitution, considerable freedom of the press, laws that more or less protected the status of minorities, and a fairly independent judicial system.

However, this is all now changing. Prime minister Modi has enacted laws to restrict the freedom of the press. Indian journalists have been put in jail, and others have been threatened with reprisals by mobs egged on by the Bharatiya Janata Party. The building of a grand Hindu temple in place of a mosque demolished back in 1994 with generous donations from the Indian government to build the new Hindu temple has only exacerbated poor relations between Hindus and Muslims. Worse, the Delhi government authorities destroyed the 600 year old Akondji Mosque just a month ago in an effort to replace it with a Hindu temple. This all goes against the Indian constitution where all religious minorities are safe in their places of worship.

Just before new Indian elections, Modi is enacting the Ctiizenship Amendment Act passed by his government in 2019 that would grant Indian citizenship to all Indian individuals fleeing from Muslim countries around India. At the same time, the law would deprive primarily Muslim Indians of their citizenship, especially in the border areas, even though they had lived in India all of their lives and whose families had lived in what is now the Republic of India for centuries. It sounds too dangerously like an ethnic cleansing, and worse many local state Indian governments are destroying Muslim-owned businesses in an effort to push Indian Muslims out of areas where Muslims had been since the founding of the Republic of India. It seems that Modi is assuming dictatorial powers, and the Indian people are paying the price. These are the grim conclusions of the Freedom House report, and it means the number of true democracies in the world is going down.

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