India in 2024: Never worse, but there is hope nevertheless

"It's a nightmare. A nation envisioned as a modern, inclusive, scientific society is being overrun by a divisive, hateful, medieval mindset"

Representative image of a keyboard with an orange button labelled 'hate speech' and showing an angry emoji (photo courtesy DW)
Representative image of a keyboard with an orange button labelled 'hate speech' and showing an angry emoji (photo courtesy DW)
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Ashis Ray

It’s a nightmare. A nation envisioned as a modern, inclusive, scientific society is being overrun by a divisive, hateful, medieval mindset.

A carefully woven secular fabric is being shredded beyond recognition. Minorities are being hounded, liberals persecuted, women dishonoured. Unemployment has never been higher in independent India, which ranks an abysmal #132 (out of 191 countries) in the UNDP human development index.

News media have been castrated and every independent institution captured by an illiberal executive. The Supreme Court of India has delivered the most unconstitutional judgements, ignoring the criminal intent of an inherently nasty regime.

At the turn of an unforgettable year of torment for our democracy, nearly 150 opposition MPs were suspended from Parliament for justifiably seeking a statement from the Union home minister on a security breach in the Lok Sabha.

By charging the intruders under the anti-terrorism law, the draconian UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act), the Modi dispensation had effectively admitted the seriousness of the offence. Yet the home minister didn’t see it fit to explain to fellow parliamentarians how and why such a lapse occurred.

The foundation of democracy is free and fair elections.

The Congress led in 199 out of 230 constituencies in the recent Madhya Pradesh election when it came to evidence-based postal ballots, but were slaughtered by the output of electronic voting machines (EVMs), which do not guarantee that the vote being cast is actually being counted. Yet, the Election Commission of India has refused to receive a plea from opposition parties for hardcopy records of votes registered on EVMs.

And yet, perhaps not all is lost. That is, if the Opposition can get past its petty concerns and see the clear and present danger to this democratic Union of states.

ASHISH RAY is India’s longest serving foreign correspondent. Views are personal

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