India slipped to ‘partly free’ democracy in an annual ranking of democracies by the U.S. government funded research group Freedom House.
This is the lowest India slipped to since 1997.
The Washington-based organization said India slipped because of continuing discrimination against its Muslim citizens and increased harassment of government critics and journalists under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The report cited “a multi-year pattern in which the Hindu nationalist government and its allies have presided over rising violence and discriminatory policies.”
The report listed several events in 2020 like religious riots in Delhi, use of sedition laws against critics and hardships endured by migrant workers after PM Modi announced a sudden lockdown to control the coronavirus pandemic.
India was among 73 nations downgraded for declines in political rights and civil liberties, affecting three-fourths of the world’s population. The report, which ranks 210 nations, found that states designated “Not Free” have reached the highest since 2006.
India’s status change means that less than 20% of the world’s people now live in a “free” country, the smallest proportion since 1995, the report added.
Freedom House was formally established in New York in 1941 to promote American involvement in World War II and the fight against fascism, according to its website.