The Economist slams Modi regime again!

Cites examples of Arnab Goswami and Stan Swamy to highlight disparities in justice delivery


A November 28 briefing in The Economist, has once again voiced strong opinions against the Modi government. The piece titled Narendra Modi threatens to turn India into a one-party state minces no words as it enumerates instances of how there is a marked difference between how people are treated in India based on their support for the ruling regime.

It begins by giving the example of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswamy, whose case was addressed by the judicial system with an unprecedented speed. “Mr Goswami spent just a week in detention, and his case had hardly reached the lowest rung of courts, yet the country’s topmost judges ignored the court’s backlog of some 60,000 cases to schedule a bail hearing within a day of the anchor’s appeal. This is in a country where prisons hold twice as many inmates awaiting trial, some 330,000 people, as they do convicts,” said The Economist.

It goes on to showcase how a majority of undertrials, especially from oppressed and marginalized groups or religious and ethnic minorities seldom get access to justice at the same speed. It also highlights how the courts have treated cases of dissenters and activists. The piece sites examples of Fr. Stan Swamy as well as the hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed in Kashmir when several young men, some still teenagers, went missing during the shutdown in the region after the abrogation of Article 370.

The Economist then goes on to warn of impending authoritarianism in the country, given the systematic groundwork being prepared by the regime. “Many cogs in India’s institutional machinery are not merely complacent, but have grown complicit in a project that threatens to turn the country into a one-party state,” says the piece. It slams the police in particular for allowing itself to become a tool of oppression saying, “Of the ostensibly independent institutions that are now compliant, India’s police stand out. Despite individually humane and honest officers, the impression Indians hold of the force is that its main purpose is to protect the powerful and persecute the weak. A case in point is the Delhi police’s management of communal riots that racked parts of India’s capital for three days last winter, leaving 53 dead.”

It also cites examples of the regime’s stranglehold over other institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), where the regime has instituted its ‘yes-men’ in positions of power. It even questioned the impartiality of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The Economist also sites examples of non-BJP run states in India being targeted by the party in a bid to overthrow existing state governments fiving examples of Madhya Pradesh where the party has been successful and West Bengal where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remains a thorn in the side for Amit Shah who The Economist calls “Mr Modi’s fearsome chief lieutenant”.

It criticizes the Modi government’s increasing stranglehold on the media saying, “In the past two months, new rules have curtailed the permitted level of foreign investment in online media and placed the entire sector under the authority of the broadcasting ministry.” Curbing access to foreign funding has been a strategy the government has used previously in shutting down human rights organisations and NGOs. It cites the example of how Amnesty International was forced to wrap up operations in India.

The entire piece as published in The Economist may be read here.


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