While PM Modi may welcome the global community with open arms, the global community has not reciprocated with the same fervour. Time and again, international institutions have lambasted the Modi regime on a variety of issues - ranging from press freedom to environmental damage - and expressed their worry on the changing narrative in our country. The PM may claim India has finally received the recognition it deserves, however, the reality is starkly different, the only recognition we’re getting is that of a failing democracy.
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On July 4th, world renowned institute Reporters Without Borders expressed serious concern at the alarming deterioration in the working environment of journalists in India. The general secretary of the organisation, Christophe Deloire, wrote to PM Modi, informing him that an incident report was issued in relation to press freedom in the country & that he should take urgent action - there was no response from the PM.
India’s ranking has dropped significantly in the Press Freedom Index since the Modi regime came into power. In 2009 India ranked 105 out 175 countries, today India has dropped to 138. The disregard for freedom of speech shown by the present country is not only a stain on our democracy, it is indication of the mindset of the ruling class. Stifling criticism & opposition is synonymous with autocracy.
“Rising temperatures and changing monsoon rainfall patterns from climate change could cost India 2.8 per cent of GDP and depress the living standards of nearly half the country's population by 2050,” stated the World Bank in a report on climate change in South Asia. The decline in living standards of the population can be attributed to a fall in agricultural yield and the health impact effected by such a change.
States like Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh are the most susceptible to climate change and could see a decline in living standards up to 9%. The report stated up to 600 million people live in areas which could turn into moderate or severe hotspots. While the government has been aware of the changing climate since the 2015 Paris agreement, they have yet to implement significant policies to tackle this issue. In fact the government has diverted the revenue collected from the National Clean Energy Fund to support the Namame Ganga project & support states with GST revenue loss.
It is also a well known fact that our current PM does not believe in climate change and has clearly stated that the climate hasn’t changed but the people have. In that case, if climate change isn’t real neither is “Ache Din”.
Women in India
The Thomson Reuters Survey recently declared India as the world’s most dangerous country for women. It has been ranked as the most pervasive nation for sexual violence against women, human trafficking for domestic work, forced labour, forced marriage and sexual slavery among other reasons. It is also the most dangerous country for cultural traditions that impact women, the survey cited acid attacks, female genital mutilation, child marriage and physical abuse. In response to this survey the PM remained mum, however, his minister for Women & Child Development, Maneka Gandhi had much to say; She claimed the survey is not representative of the reality on the ground & thus rejected its findings. Other ministers and people loosely-aligned with BJP are discrediting the survey on the basis that it is based on ‘perceptions’, not facts.
Prior to this survey, on April 20th, IMF Chief, Christine Lagarde, gave a scathing comment on the status of women in India. “What has happened (in India) is just revolting. I would hope that the Indian authorities, starting with PM Modi pay more attention because it is needed for the women of India,” she remarked on the Kathua rape - there was no response from the PM.
Democracy under threat
Four years after PM Modi took office, a detailed quantitative study of democracy around the world has confirmed our fears: “The most populous democracy in the world, India, is at risk.” The report by Varieties of Democracy, compiled by a team of more than 2,500 social science experts, has stated India has seen a sharp decline in it’s democratic freedom since BJP took over.
“The infringements on media freedom and the civil society activities of democracy following the election of a Hindu-nationalist government have started to undermine the longest-standing and most populous democracy in the Global South,” the report says.
Our democracy is under threat & we can no longer let that be the case. Our Constitution is being ripped to shreds by extremists & our liberal fabric has disintegrated. It is time we fight back the authoritative control PM Modi has imposed on us & take back control of our fundamental rights.