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Challenges facing India’s democracy and economy

Author: Enrico D’Ambrogio

Affiliation: European Parliament

Organization/Publisher: EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service

Date/Place: May 2020/ Brussels, Belgium

Type of Literature: Report

Number of Pages: 4


Keywords: India, Islamophobia, Kashmir, Citizenship Amendment Act, Persecution, Muslims, Democracy


This report by European Parliament discusses India’s claims of being a democracy, upholding rule of law, its treatment of minorities (especially Muslims), and India’s sliding economy which was in decline prior to the coronavirus pandemic. India’s soft power and human resource deployment across world capitals, in academia and media, has won it praise and support. However, this report suggests India’s claims are on a frail standing. It notes that 70 years of India’s “tolerance and rule of law” is being challenged by a growing Hindu nationalist influence on society and politics. The slide in India’s religious freedom index, press freedom and allied aspects put India under a spotlight. The author particularly refers to India after the Hindu nationalist face of India – Narendra Modi – won a second term in 2019. It says Modi’s party, the BJP, has stepped up several initiatives catering to its Hindu nationalist electoral base. However, the report stops short of calling Kashmir a disputed region when it notes that Modi enforced a military lockdown in August 2019 and re-annexed the region. Kashmir is a UN-designated disputed region, the political future of which is yet to be decided. The report noted how questions are being raised at India’s claim of secularism after it amended its citizenship law to grant citizenship to minority refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan but Muslims do not figure in the list. Amid the dark clouds of rising fascism and Hindu nationalism, which has seen Islamophobia reaching heights, the report points to the downslide of India‘s economy despite the country doing well until 2018. The Hindu-majority country achieved its slowest growth rate in the last decade of 5% in 2019/20 fiscal. It adds that the budget unveiled by the Modi government in Feb. 2020 does not meet expectations of tackling existing structural weaknesses and providing a large fiscal antidote to the economic slowdown.

By: Riyaz Ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-Resident Research Associate



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