State of democracy in India

… a glimpse from the article columns

During the recent spate of farmer agitation in India, the way in which the government has gone about and after protesters and those who dissent is unprecedented in a functioning democracy: they cut off internet access, water supply, electricity supply, erected fences and ditches. You would wonder that the farmers are residents of a free democratic country and therefore would have rights to dissent and protest. Seems that the present government of India takes a very different stand.

Yet, in the past, India is no stranger to popular dissent. A country that is known for its diversity of ideas and opinions, and Indians being highly opinionated bunch, to understand the level of dissent and interpersonal differences in ideas that Indians have cherished, read Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s work “The Argumentative Indian”. One wonders what is going on?

I have collected and read through a few selected articles that have explored this erosion of public discourse and tolerance in India. So much so, that even a tweet in the form of a question by the pop star Rihanna lately has been seen as an adverse comment by the Government of India and several “celebrities” in India have come out in support of Indian government’s stand.

How did this come about?

Vidya Krishnan, a journalist and Nieman fellow at Harvard has argued in her article that based on the several attack on the free press by intimidation through social media (such as twitter takedowns, and even threatening twitter), India’s tolerance for free press is diminishing [1]

Soutik Biswas, a journalist with the BBC (he is their India correspondent), has written an explanatory article “Why journalists in India are under attack”

He writes,

He did not offer an explanation, beyond stating that the rights of the journalists were challenged, and that India dropped two points in the World Press freedom index, a multiple measure to chart a country’s press freedom.

Reporters without border note that,

The website tracks this, see

(to be continued …)

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Also in:

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