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India is now an ‘Electoral Autocracy’: Sweden-based research institute

(Asian News Hub) – A Sweden-based research institute on Wednesday classified India as an ‘electoral autocracy’ because of ‘restrictions on multiple facets of democracy’ such as civil society groups and free speech.


Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute, an independent research institute founded in 2014 by political scientist Staffan Lindberg in Sweden, said that India registered a 23 per cent point drop on its 0-to-1 Liberal Democracy Index (LDI) scale, marking ‘one of the most dramatic shifts among all countries in the world over the past 10 years’.


The institute produces its annual report on the state of democracy around the world.


India was previously ranked as an electoral democracy.


‘India’s autocratization process has largely followed the typical pattern for countries in the ‘Third Wave’ over the past ten years: a gradual deterioration where freedom of the media, academia, and civil society were curtailed first and to the greatest extent,’ the report said.


Calling democracy ‘broken down’ in India, the institute also noted most of the decline occurred following the Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory in 2014 and their promotion of a Hindu-nationalist agenda.


The report particularly highlights the diminishing freedom of expression in India. ‘India is, in this aspect, now as autocratic as is Pakistan, and worse than both its neighbors Bangladesh and Nepal,’ the report notes.


‘In general, the Modi-led government in India has used laws on sedition, defamation, and counterterrorism to silence critics. For example, over 7,000 people have been charged with sedition after the BJP assumed power and most of the accused are critics of the ruling party,’ it said.


V-Dem institute said that India now joins Brazil, Hungary, and Turkey, who were ranked electoral autocracies by 2018.


Last week, India’s status on US-based Freedom House’s report on political rights and civil liberties was lowered to ‘partly free’.


‘Political rights and civil liberties in the country have deteriorated since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, with increased pressure on human rights organizations, rising intimidation of academics and journalists, and a spate of bigoted attacks, including lynchings, aimed at Muslims,’ the report read. ‘The decline only accelerated after Modi’s reelection in 2019,’ it added.

AGENCY

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Incessant rain leaves 135 dead in Maharashtra

(Asian News Hub) – Last week, heavy rains in Maharashtra and Karnataka have caused massive damage to the people living near the coastal areas in both states.

Incessant rains causing landslides and floods left over 140 dead and thousands displaced. The destruction seems irreversible in cities, districts and villages.

While districts like Raigad and Ratnagiri were among the worst-hit areas of Maharashtra, parts of the coastal, Malenadu and the north-interior region of Karnataka were battered by torrential rains.

Since the rains began, 135 people are dead in Maharashtra and nine have been killed in Karnataka in incidents like floods, landslides etc. Over 1,35,313 people have been shifted to safer places, including 78,111 in Sangli district, followed by 40,882 in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra. At the same time, in Karnataka, 31,360 people have been evacuated from low-lying areas, while 22,417 people are taking shelter in 237 relief camps.

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BSF, Pak Rangers resolve to maintain peace on border in first meeting after Ceasefire

Meeting held on Islamabad’s request, lodged strong protest over Drone activities: BSF

(Asian News Hub) – Border guards of India and Pakistan on Saturday resolved to remain committed to each other to maintain peace and harmony at International Border in Jammu.

Border Security Forces (BSF) said that Sector Command level meeting, first after New Delhi and Islamabad decided on steadfast holding of ceasefire, was held on request of Pakistan Rangers on International Border in Suchetgarh area of the Jammu.

The BSF delegation was led by Surjit Singh, DIG, Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers delegation was led by Brig Murad Hussain, sector commander Pakistan Rangers, Sialkot Sector , S P S Sandhu (DIG), a spokesman of the BSF, said in a statement cited by GNS.

“It was the first Sector Commander level meeting between two border guarding Forces, after declaration of cease fire agreement by DGMOs.”

“During meeting, Commanders of both the border guarding Forces, discussed various issues with main emphasis by BSF delegation on Pak Drone activities, (militant) activities by Pakistan from across the border, digging of tunnels by Pakistan and other issues related to Border management,” the spokesman said, adding, “A very strong protest was lodged by BSF delegates regarding drone activities by Pakistan authorities in Jammu area.”

The spokesman said both the forces “decided to re-energize instant communication between field Commanders, whenever required, to resolve the ops matters.”

“ Meeting was held in a cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere and both side agreed for expeditious implementation of the decisions taken in the earlier DG level talks and committed to each other to maintain peace and harmony at International Border,” he added.

GNS

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Raj Kundra made erotica, not porn: Shilpa Shetty to police

(Asian News Hub) – Actor Shilpa Shetty has claimed she has nothing to do with ‘Hotshots’ – the mobile app involving Raj Kundra, and claimed that her husband used to make erotica, not porn.

“Shilpa Shetty has said her husband is innocent and that erotica is different from pornography. Her husband Raj Kundra wasn’t involved in producing porn content,” according to ANI.

Shilpa Shetty said that Pradeep Bakshi, the London-based wanted accused and Raj Kundra’s brother-in-law, was involved with the app and its functioning, the officials told ANI.

Kundra, 45, was arrested by the crime branch on Monday night in a case, which it said, related to alleged creation of pornographic films and publishing them through some apps.

According to the police, there were several WhatsApp chats that revealed that Kundra was involved in the financial dealings of an app and its contents.

The police also said three women have come forward with complaints in the case, saying they were “forced to act in pornographic movies”.

The accused persons took advantage of struggling models, actors and other workers and made them work in these movies, the police added.

Kundra was taken into custody on Monday night by the city police”s crime branch after being booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act.

On Friday, Shilpa Shetty urged to her fans to watch her latest comedy “Hungama 2” and not let the film “suffer” in the wake of her husband, businessman Raj Kundra, was arrested in a porn films case.

Shetty, whose comeback film “Hungama 2” released on the steaming platform Disney + Hotstar on Friday, said the Priyadarshan-directed comedy is a result of “relentless” hard work of the entire team and should not suffer.

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