Skip to main content

Modi govt "increasingly interfering" in freedom of association, expression, assembly: Global civil society alliance

By Our Representative
Civicus Monitor, a global civil society alliance based in Johannesburg, South Africa, in its first-ever online tracking of 104 countries, has noted that the “civic space” in India is being “increasingly constrained because of government interference with the freedoms of association, expression, and peaceful assembly.”
Placing India under the “obstructed” category in the company of 21 other countries, including Armenia, Bhutan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Moldova, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, and Ukrain, Civicus regrets, “India’s many civil society organizations have until recently enjoyed an enabling operating environment.”
“Local and foreign civil society organizations describe an uneasy atmosphere under the current government of Narendra Modi”, it says, adding, “This has been caused by the government’s targeting of CSOs, including Greenpeace India, as well as statements leaked to the media indicating that civil society is receiving large sums of money to pursue foreign agendas in India.”
It further notes, “While many organisations providing social services can operated unimpeded, and in many cases collaborate effectively with the state, human rights defenders face threats, harassment and intimidation, and space for the expression of diverse views and dissent is shrinking.”
Placing countries in five different categories (closed, repressed, obstructed, narrowed and open) Civicus notes, under the “closed” categories are 16 countries such as Cuba, Ethiopia, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Vietnam; and under the “repressed” category are 32 countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Iraq, Mexico, Myanmar, Pakistan, Russia, Rwanda, and Thailand.
Then, under the “narrowed” category there are 26 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, France, Georgia, Japan, Poland, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and USA; and under “open” there are just nine countries – Andorra, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
Especially referring to the situation in Kashmir in the context of India, Civicus says, it “remains extremely volatile”, with the death toll reaching “over 90, and with thousands of civilians injured”, and “conditions for civic activism in the region are closing rapidly under pressure from the authorities.”
“As tensions mount over the disputed region between India and Pakistan, the people of Kashmir are increasingly caught in the crossfire of mortar shells between the two nations”, Civicus underlines, adding, “As instability between the two nations grows, many fear that the situation could rapidly escalate; making almost impossible conditions for civil society even worse.”
Civicus particularly notes how things have gone so far India India, where there was a “travel ban on prominent Kashmiri human rights activist, Khurram Pervez”, who was “prevented from boarding a flight bound for United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva and was subsequently detained.”
Civicus also notes that India has recently taken what it calls “several retrograde steps towards curtailing associational rights”, which includes “the government's recent proposal to extend the ambit of anti-corruption legislation in order to create a stricter environment for CSOs and their receipt of funds”, with efforts to “examine how accountability of NGOs could be tightened.”
Other examples noted by Civicus of “obstructions” suffered by civil society include “the momentum of protests by the Dalit community” in Gujarat, “violent protests” between residents of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on the Cauvery river water sharing arrangement, “mass protests against land acquisition by extractive companies” in Jharkhand.

Comments

ALSO READ

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s highest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”