MSN - AP World http://syn2.thecanadianpress.com:8080/mrss/feed/fcf7391a2f354311807f0501c16bde6a MSN - AP World Copyright © 2010-2018 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved. http://www.rssboard.org/rss-specification Sat, 10 Dec 2022 06:23:54 +0000 India at 75, a democracy in retreat? http://syn2.thecanadianpress.com:8080/mrss/feed/fcf7391a2f354311807f0501c16bde6a/883da729a0b74f018c52f6a319dcd1dc As India reaches it's 75th year as a democracy, some question how democratic the country still is under it's ruling government. (Aug. 12) 883da729a0b74f018c52f6a319dcd1dc Fri, 12 Aug 2022 15:47:34 +0000 SHOTLIST:RESTRICTION SUMMARY:ASSOCIATED PRESSNew Delhi - 5 August 20221. Wide of India GateHEADLINE: India at 75, a democracy in retreat?2. Various of opposition party protesting against price rise; Congress leader Rahul Gandhi sitting on bus, being detained by the policeANNOTATION: A small protest against against soaring food prices and unemployment ends in the detention of main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi.3. Gandhi detained in police vanANNOTATION: Gandhi leads an electorally weak opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's massively popular government.4. Police van drives awayANNOTATION: He uses his arrest to accuse the government of undermining democracy in India.INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS YOUTUBE CHANNELExact location unknown - 5 August 2022++BUGGED AT SOURCE++++4:3++5. SOUNDBITE (English) Rahul Gandhi, Opposition leader:"What we are witnessing is the death of democracy."ASSOCIATED PRESSNew Delhi - 9 August 2022++NIGHT SHOTS++6. Various people walking down streetANNOTATION: India's democracy is the world's largest with nearly 1.4 billion people.BRITISH MOVIETONE ARCHIVE: New Delhi – August 1957 ++4:3++   ++COMMENTARY AT SOURCE++  7. Various first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru at Independence Day speech from Red Fort ANNOTATION: It was in 1947 that India transitioned from British colonial rule to democracy.8. Various of Nehru ANNOTATION: Jawaharlal Nehru, the country's first prime minister told Indians that they had made a pledge to "peace, freedom and democracy."ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVE: New Delhi - 15 August 20219. Various of Modi greeting people after Independence Day speech at the Red FortANNOTATION: Populist Narendra Modi came into power in 2014.ANNOTATION: Critics accuses his populist government of using political power to undermine democratic freedoms.10. Various of Modi giving speechANNOTATION: They also accuse him of pursuing a Hindu nationalist agenda.ANNOTATION: Allegations that Modi's party denies.ASSOCIATED PRESS New Delhi - 10 August 202211. SOUNDBITE (English) Shehzad Poonawalla, Spokesperson for Bhartiya Janata Party:"The democratic structures are fine, the Supreme Court is fine. When they lose an election, then because they have to save their face and their leadership, it is not getting elected by people. You insult us, fine. You insult the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), fine, you insult Prime Minister Modi, fine. Don't insult the people of India."ASSOCIATED PRESSARCHIVE: New Delhi - 3 May 202212. Wide of Jama Masjid (mosque), Muslims offering offering namazANNOTATION: The largely Hindu nation has been proud of its multiculturalism and has about 200 million Muslims.13. Various of Muslims offering namaz ANNOTATION: It also has a history of bloody sectarian violence.ANNOTATION: Cases of hate speech and violence against Muslims are up.ASSOCIATED PRESS New Delhi - 3 August 202214. SOUNDBITE (English) Deepak Gupta, former supreme court judge:"Sometimes you need extra protection for the minorities so that they don't feel that they are second rate citizens. Whether it's the (inaudible) minorities, it's not religious minorities alone. It's like ethnic minorities, tribals. It's like other minorities, the underprivileged, the poor."ASSOCIATED PRESS New Delhi - 5 August 202215. Various of media covering protestANNOTATION: Under Modi, India's Parliament has also come under scrutiny for passing important laws with little debate.ANNOTATION: A general weakening of independent institutions including an independent media is feared.ASSOCIATED PRESS New Delhi - 4 August 202216. SOUNDBITE (English) Coomi Kapoor, Journalist and author:"What is happening now is more gradual and sinister. But the government is conscious of world opinion. So it is not going all the way."ASSOCIATED PRESS New Delhi - 3 August 202217. Various of National emblem on display at museum, children at an augmented reality (AR) session at museum, AR images of children greeting Indian Prime Minister Narendra ModiANNOTATION: US-based non-profit Freedom House has downgraded India from a free democracy to "partially free."ANNOTATION: The Economist Intelligence Unit calls India a "flawed democracy."STORYLINE:The August 5 demonstrations by India's main opposition Congress party against soaring food prices and unemployment began like any other recent protest - an electorally weak opposition taking to the New Delhi streets against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's massively popular government.The protests, however, quickly took a turn when key Congress lawmakers led by Rahul Gandhi - Modi's main opponent in the last two general elections - trooped to the Parliament, leading to fierce standoffs with police."Democracy is a memory (in India)," Gandhi later tweeted, describing the dramatic photographs that showed him and his party leaders being briefly detained by police.Gandhi's statement was largely seen as yet another frantic effort by a crisis-ridden opposition party to shore up its relevance and was dismissed by the government.But it resonated amid growing sentiment that India's democracy - the world's largest with nearly 1.4 billion people - is in retreat and its democratic foundations are floundering.Experts and critics say trust in the judiciary as a check on executive power is eroding.Assaults on the press and free speech have grown brazen.Religious minorities are facing increasing attacks by Hindu nationalists. And largely peaceful protests, sometimes against provocative policies, have been stamped out by internet clampdowns and the jailing of activists.At midnight on August 15, 1947, the red sandstone parliamentary building in the heart of India's capital echoed with the high-pitched voice of Jawaharlal Nehru, the country's first prime minister."At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom," Nehru famously spoke, words that were heard over live radio by millions of Indians.Then he promised: "To the nations and peoples of the world, we send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with them in furthering peace, freedom and democracy."It marked India's transition from a British colony to a democracy - the first in South Asia - that has since transformed from a poverty-stricken nation into one of the world's fastest-growing economies, earning itself a seat at the global high table and becoming a democratic counterweight to its authoritarian neighbor, China.Apart from a brief interruption in 1975 when a formal emergency was declared under the Congress party rule that saw outright censorship, India clung doggedly to its democratic convictions - largely due to free elections, an independent judiciary that confronted the executive, a thriving media, strong opposition and peaceful transitions of power.But experts and critics say the country has been gradually departing from some commitments and argue the backsliding has accelerated since Modi came to power in 2014.They accuse his populist government of using unbridled political power to undermine democratic freedoms and preoccupying itself with pursuing a Hindu nationalist agenda.Modi's party denies this.A spokesperson, Shehzad Poonawalla, said India has been a "thriving democracy" under Modi's rule and has witnessed "reclamation of the republic."Most democracies are hardly immune to strains.The number of countries experiencing democratic backsliding "has never been as high" as in the past decade, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance said last year, adding the US to the list along with India and Brazil.Still, the descent appears to be striking in India.Earlier this year, the US-based non-profit Freedom House downgraded India from a free democracy to "partially free."The V-Dem Institute classified it as an "electoral autocracy" on par with Russia.And the Democracy Index published by The Economist Intelligence Unit called India a "flawed democracy."India's Foreign Ministry has called the downgrades "inaccurate" and "distorted."Many Indian leaders have said such reports are an intrusion in "internal matters," with India's Parliament disallowing debates on them.Globally, India strongly advocates democracy.During the inaugural Summit for Democracy organized by the US in December, Modi asserted the "democratic spirit" is integral to India's "civilization ethos."At home, however, his government is seen bucking that very spirit, with independent institutions coming under increasing scrutiny.Experts point to long pending cases with India's Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of key decisions taken by Modi's government as major concerns.They include cases related to a controversial citizenship review process that has already left nearly 2 million people in Assam state potentially stateless, the now revoked semi-autonomous powers pertaining to disputed Kashmir, the opaque campaign finance laws that are seen disproportionately favoring Modi's party, and its alleged use of military-grade spyware to monitor political opponents and journalists.India's judiciary, which is independent of the executive, has faced criticism in the past but the intensity has increased, said Deepak Gupta, a former Supreme Court judge.Gupta said India's democracy appears to be "on the downswing" due to the court's inability to uphold civil liberties in some cases by denying people bail and the misuse of sedition and anti-terror laws by police, tactics that were also used by earlier governments."When it comes to adjudication of disputes... the courts have done a good job. But when it comes to their role as protectors of the rights of the people, I wish the courts had done more," he said.The country's democratic health has also taken a hit due to the status of minorities.The largely Hindu nation has been proud of its multiculturalism and has about 200 million Muslims.It also has a history of bloody sectarian violence, but hate speech and violence against Muslims have increased recently.Some states ruled by Modi's party have used bulldozers to demolish the homes and shops of alleged Muslim protesters, a move critics say is a form of collective punishment.The government has sought to downplay these attacks, but the incidents have left the minority community reeling under fear."Sometimes you need extra protection for the minorities so that they don't feel that they are second-rate citizens," said Gupta.That the rising tide of Hindu nationalism has helped buoy the fortunes of Modi's party is evident in its electoral successes.It has also coincided with a rather glaring fact: the ruling party has no Muslim lawmaker in the Parliament, a first in the history of India.The inability to fully eliminate discrimination and attacks against other minorities like Christians, tribals and Dalits - who form the lowest rung of India's Hindu caste hierarchy - has exacerbated these concerns.Even though the government sees the ascent of an Indigenous woman as India's ceremonial president as a significant step toward equal representation, critics have cast their doubts calling it political optics.Under Modi, India's Parliament has also come under scrutiny for passing important laws with little debate, including a religious-driven citizenship law and controversial agricultural reform that led to massive protests.In a rare retreat, his government withdrew the farm laws and some saw it as a triumph of democracy, but that sentiment faded quickly with increased attacks on free speech and the press.The country fell eight places, to 150, out of 180 countries in this year's Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, which said "Indian journalists who are too critical of the government are subjected to all-out harassment and attack campaigns."AP video shot by Rishi Lekhi and Shonal Ganguly===========================================================Clients are reminded: (i) to check the terms of their licence agreements for use of content outside news programming and that further advice and assistance can be obtained from the AP Archive on: Tel +44 (0) 20 7482 7482 Email: info@aparchive.com(ii) they should check with the applicable collecting society in their Territory regarding the clearance of any sound recording or performance included within the AP Television News service (iii) they have editorial responsibility for the use of all and any content included within the AP Television News service and for libel, privacy, compliance and third party rights applicable to their Territory. As India reaches it's 75th year as a democracy, some question how democratic the country still is under it's ruling government. (Aug. 12) India at 75, a democracy in retreat?