India’s Disinformation Landscape


Rule of law, judiciary and constitution takes a blow in Modi’s India

As India gears up for the 2024 elections, its political arena has become a battlefield of make-believe triumphs, real and imaginary challenges, and conflicts. The Modi government is strategically leveraging its purported successes in international relationships to bolster its chances of securing a third-term in the office. However, amidst these claims of triumphs, India finds itself grappling with a sobering reality – it has been identified as the global capital for disinformation by the World Economic Forum in 2024.

While the Modi government seeks to project India as a rising global player with flourishing diplomatic ties, the designation of India as a hub for disinformation casts a shadow over these achievements. The proliferation of misleading information, amplified by social media and online platforms, poses a significant threat to democratic processes. With India’s vast population and expanding digital landscape, the potential reach of disinformation extends to an estimated 4.0 billion people across approximately 60 countries.

Adding complexity to the political landscape is the recent confrontation between the Indian Supreme Court and the Modi government on undisclosed funding to the political parties. The court’s insistence on transparency in political funding underscores its commitment to upholding at least some of the democratic principles despite political pressures. However, the government’s reluctance to disclose the sources of political donations raises concerns about its dedication to accountability and the rule of law.

This clash between the judiciary and the government reflects broader apprehensions about India’s international reputation. Increased scrutiny from international organizations over human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and the Nagalands, anti-money laundering, and other crimes against its own and other countries’ citizens further complicate the matter. The government’s resistance to judicial oversight risks exacerbating tensions with the international community, potentially portraying Modi’s India as a state that disregards international norms and neglects the rights of its citizens in its pursuit of power.

However, addressing the mounting concerns about political transparency and accountability as well as upholding the rule of law and respecting the independence of the judiciary is hardly on the agenda of the BJP’s extremist Hindu nationalist government. Instead of upholding democratic principles, combating disinformation and safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process, the BJP government is moving in an opposite direction.

Amir Jahangir
Amir Jahangir
The writer is a global competitiveness, risk, and development expert. He leads Mishal Pakistan, the country partner institute of the Centre for the New Economy and Society Platform at the World Economic Forum.

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