Skip to main content

India one of 7 countries where disinformation used for winning polls: Global NGO Civicus

By Rajiv Shah 

The State of Civil Society Report 2023, released by Civicus, an international non-profit organisation, which describes itself as “a global alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world," with headquarters in Johannesburg and offices in Geneva and New York, has singled out India as one of the seven countries where disinformation played a crucial role to win elections.
Seeking to explore contemporary political, economic and social trends and their impact on civil society, and the ways in which people’s movements are responding, innovating and scoring victories, the report says, "disinformation played a huge role in elections" in "promoting the anti-Muslim Hindu nationalism of India’s ruling party." Other countries mentioned are Brazil, Philippines, South Korea, Chile, Russia and USA."
It insists, "Disinformation and conspiracy theories soared under the pandemic, souring every area of public discourse, from vaccines to climate change to gender and racial issues, normalising hate speech and extremist ideas." 
The 12th annually published report, it claims to "look back on 2022 to explore trends in civil society action, at every level and in every arena, from struggles for democracy, inclusion and climate justice to demands for global governance reform."
Referring to the Rohingiya crisis, the report points to how the Rohingya refugees -- whose life has seen "little improvement" after they were "forced to flee Myanmar, where they’ve long been denied citizenship" -- continue to be exposed to be "exposed to anti-Muslim hatred" in India. 
It adds, "In Bangladesh they’re subjected to stifling restrictions on their ability to speak out... Their plight seems largely forgotten, and now the army that unleashed genocidal violence against them rules their country."
Citing survivors of gender-based violence and failures to hold perpetrators accountable across the globe, the report recalls how the Bilkis Bano case murderers and rapists were set free. It says, "A clear example was seen in India when the Gujarat state government unjustifiably granted early release to 11 men convicted of a 2002 gang rape of several Muslim women and the murders of 14 people."
Noting that "when it comes to clothes, liberation isn’t about wearing or not wearing a particular item; it’s about the freedom to choose what to wear", the report regrets, "While in Iran an allegedly ‘improperly’ worn hijab triggered the most widespread and sustained challenge the country’s theocratic regime has ever faced, in India the hijab became a symbol of dignity, pride and resistance against a spreading wave of Islamophobia."
The report states, "In early 2022, in a move led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party to stoke religious divisions for political gain, Muslim students in parts of the country were banned from wearing hijab to class. At a single stroke, they experienced violations of their rights to free expression, free manifestation of religious beliefs and education."
It approvingly quotes Syeda Hameed of the Muslim Women’s Forum as saying, "The hijab ban is a complete violation of women’s rights to express their own identities. It should be my choice alone whether to wear the hijab or not". The report comments, "But this time around, right-wing populists may have picked the wrong target. Indian Muslim women resisted, refusing to be the pawns in someone else’s political game."
In India the hijab became a symbol of dignity, pride and resistance against a spreading wave of Islamophobia
Referring to how the Modi government seeks to undermine the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) mandate which allows civil society participation in the work of the UN, the report says, the International Dalit Solidarity Network move for accreditation was long held up by India.
It says, the Committee on NGOs, an ECOSOC subsidiary body of 19 states, which includes India as a member, has a habit of deferring applications from CSOs working on human rights issues that some states object to. "Several have faced repeated years of questioning and demands for further documentation, in what has seemed a deliberately attritional process. The longest wait – 15 years – was experienced by the International Dalit Solidarity Network, whose accreditation was long held up by India", it notes.
The report notes how an international NGO campaign helped resolve a major labour dispute in favour of women workers, many of them Dalits, when Shahi Exports, India’s largest garment company, agreed to pay around US$4 million in unpaid wages. "This major high-street supplier faced international campaigning over its refusal to pay annual cost of living increases", the report said.
It added, "This is a historic labour rights win for around 5,000 mostly female Dalit workers, who are placed at the bottom of India’s caste system. This agreement is the first of its kind in India, the only one to cover spinning mills and the first to include explicit protections against caste-based discrimination, a problem that intensified during the pandemic."


What surprises me is the current regime's antipathy towards all NGOs. The fact that these very NGOs are doing the work that the government should be doing with no additional expense to it, should be a big plus point in their favour.

No doubt, there are some NGOs which are not all above board, but you cannot and should not paint all of them with the same brush.


'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.