One Big Thing: Is India’s Democracy in Trouble?
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What is it?
- President Trump made his first official state trip to India this week, but it was overshadowed by clashes between Muslims and Hindus.
- Violence erupted as a result of the new The Citizenship Amendment Act which makes it easier for non-Muslims immigrants from neighboring countries to gain citizenship, but many experts have criticized the law as biased against Muslims immigrants.
- As of February 26, nearly 50 people have been killed and countless mosques and Hindu temples have been burned by violent protesters.
- Separately, but in a disturbing move against freedom of expression, the government has shut off the internet in the northern Kashmir region since August 5, 2019. Prime Minister Modi has claimed it is a necessary security measure.
Why does it matter?
- India is the world’s largest democracy, but these recent actions by the government are undermining its democratic credentials.
- It is a secular democracy and home to people from many different faiths – Hindus comprise a majority with nearly 80 percent of the population (960 million people) and Muslims about 14-15 percent (around 200 million people).
- Prime Minster Modi has been cited by many as biased, religiously intolerant, and contradictory to India’s secular constitution. Muslim – Hindu tension in India is typically fragile and controversial legislation like the CAA is enough to spark the fire.
- Under the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, internet access is an important part of freedom of expression, information, and peaceful assembly. Modi’s internet shutdown has furthered public distrust towards his administration because it weakens crucial democratic norms like transparency, accountability and inclusion.
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