Protect Indian Democracy: French Leaders Write
Dear Mr President,
14th July is a sacred day. France celebrates the freedom and human rights principles that lie at the heart of our values, constitution and worldview.
Rolling out the red carpet to strongman leaders, on this of all days, makes a mockery of this rich history. It also puts France’s foreign policy interests in jeopardy.
It is now clear that India’s democracy is in danger under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India is now ranked as only ‘partly-free’ by Freedom House experts. Journalists and activists are being held in jail without trials. Since Modi took over in 2014, hate crimes against minorities have increased by 300%. Last year alone there were 600 attacks on Christian churches.
These abuses are fuelled by Hindu nationalist rhetoric from the country’s senior leadership, including Modi himself. And his citizens are worried - 4 in 5 Indians are concerned about the health of their democracy.
If democracy fails in India, it affects not just the lives of 1.4 billion Indians but threatens democracy worldwide. And rather than helping to protect against autocratic states such as Russia and China, India would become one itself. President Macron's foreign policy efforts should work to protect democracy, not undermine it.
To that end, President Macron must use this visit as an opportunity to encourage PM Modi to:
Stop his crackdown on civil society
Take the muzzle off big media
Protect religious freedom
It is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.
Arnaud Viviant: Critic and writer
Aurélien Taché: Politician
Catherine Clément: Philosopher
Christophe Jaffrelot: Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology
Eric Fassin: Professor of sociology
François Zimeray: French Ambassador to Denmark
Gaëlle Nohant: Writer
Gisèle Sapiro: Professor of Sociology
Sénator Guillaume Gontard: Politician
Julia Cage: Economist
Julien Bayou: Politician
Rohayalla Diallo: Journalist, and director
Shumona Sinha: Writer
Thomas Piketty: Economist
Vincent Cespedes: Philosopher, writer, and composer