Why India will be scrutinised at Summit for Democracy

News: US will host a virtual “summit for democracy”, which will bring together leaders of 100 countries, civil society and private sector representatives.

The summit will convene around 3 broad themes — defending democracy against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.

Why India is likely to be scrutinised at the democracy summit?

Reports on Indian democracy: The Freedom House’s “Freedoms of the World” index categorises India as only “partly free”; Swedish V-Dem calls India an “electoral autocracy”.

Rights violations in Kashmir, where India made the record for the world’s longest internet ban, etc.

Artists ‘freedom of Speech’ is facing threat, and the institutions are doing very little to protect the same .

There are instances of political dissent being met with the charges of sedition, anti-terrorism laws to silence critics.

Also, usage of controversial laws, like UAPA to silent criticism etc.

What has been India’s response to these criticisms?

Cultural relativism – the Indianness of India’s democracy- India has the tradition of its own kind of democracy since ancient past. So, comparing Indian democracy with the western model is not an appropriate way to go about.

This also find echo in China’s stand that, there was no “uniform model” of democracy, and that dismissing other forms of democracy different from one’s own is itself undemocratic.

The civil society has been accused of defaming India’s image in the world by selectively raising human rights violations.

Why is democracy seeing a decline all around the world?

The decline is marked by myriad policies of powerful countries like the US and other such countries in Asia.

US policies: The US came to the region of South Asia in the name of human rights, security and the so-called global war on terror. However, it recently left Taliban to capture Afghanistan and destabilize South-Asia.

Their leaders act pragmatically in choosing strategic allies and partners, irrespective of the fact whether they are democrat, autocrat, dictator or kleptocrat.

The paradoxical stand of Asian countries: They talk of cultural relativism in their own matters, to suit their own interests, however the same model is not followed by these Asian countries when they talk about, let’s say, Afghanistan matters. For example, in matters related to gender and minority stand of Taliban.

Source: This post is based on the article “Why India will be scrutinised at Summit for Democracy” published in The Indian Express on 7th Dec 2021.

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