India’s rights record, America’s blinkered vision

News:  India’s friendly diplomatic relation with the U.S is providing India a certain immunity from international criticism.

Instances where the U.S has taken an accommodating view w.r.t India, despite some concerns?

Firstly, the issues of purchasing S-400 from Russia. Despite the US voicing out their disinterest in purchasing military equipment, their administration did not think it was necessary to penalize India’s actions.

Secondly, the US has taken an accommodating view despite India’s downgrades in democratic norms and human rights. For instance,

The U.S. State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices itself recorded “significant human rights issues” in India. It includes extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, violence against minorities, unjustified harassment of journalists, and censorship and blocking of websites.

India is rated poorly by the U.S.-based Freedom House which called it ‘partly free’.

Sweden’s V-Dem Institute dubbed India as an ‘electoral autocracy’.

India was ranked 142 in the World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has for successive years recommended that India be listed as a ‘country of particular concern’ due to its treatment of Muslims and Christians.

India is ranked in the Open Doors World Watch List for ‘extreme’ Christian persecution below Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. government has ignored all these findings due to Narendra Modi’s positioning India as an indispensable partner.

Thirdly, criticism of India in world media has also been shielded to some extent due to India’s close relationship with the U.S.

Western countries manage to shield their viewpoints, because, world media is being dominated by a handful of western capitals.

What are the issues/ concerns associated with the US?

West-dominated English-medium news ecosystem dominates globally. Western countries can direct unjust criticism towards their opponents using this dominant media system. Many times other countries have tried to create rival media platforms, however, they have failed to compete.

Following are some of the unjust actions of western countries, shielded by western media.

Dubious Sanctions: Unilateral sanctions based on uncertain international laws have been the West’s instrument of choice for penalising political adversaries. For instance, Threats of “massive consequences and severe economic cost” against Russia by G7 countries and the European Union.

Selective criticism: A boycott of the Winter Olympics in China by irrelevant western officials was promoted. However, the Football World Cup in Qatar was not opposed, even though, it is an absolute monarchy where there are scant civil and political rights, workers’ rights are negligible and homosexuality is deemed illegal.

U.S tries to protect fundamental rights in other countries, whereas, in the last 12 months, its police have murdered 37 African-American people per million against 15 per million whites. African-Americans comprise only 13% of the population.

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s rights record, America’s blinkered vision” published in The Hindu on 4th Jan 2022.

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