Modi’s India: The age of intolerance in the world’s biggest democracy

Recent estimates suggest that India has now overtaken China in population size, but where the world’s most populated country should be a beacon of democracy, the opposite may be true.

Under Narendra Modi, the press is being strangled; the judiciary is no longer independent; and protesters are thrown in jail. You can read more about this in our forthcoming Spring 2023 issue, where our Special Report focuses on the state of free expression in Modi’s India.

In the meantime, here is a quiz to get a flavour of what to expect.

Be prepared to have your eyes opened...

First off, in which year did Narendra Modi take office as Indian Prime Minister?
Which political party is Modi a member of?
In a grand show of vanity from the Prime Minister himself, which type of venue was named after Modi in February 2021?
Which international broadcaster's Delhi and Mumbai offices were searched as part of tax evasion allegations following a documentary it aired that was critical of Modi?
There were 182 internet shutdowns around the world in 2021. The Indian government was responsible for most of them. How many?
Which Indian city tops the list of the most surveilled cities in the world, with 1,826 cameras per square mile?
Where was India placed on RSF’s World Press Freedom Index in 2022 (out of 180 countries)?
As of February 2023, how many journalists were imprisoned in India?
Which streaming platform was forced to apologise and cut scenes from a television drama directed by a Muslim after BJP leaders alleged it was “deliberately mocking Hindu gods”?
In July 2021, it was reported that 17-year-old Neha Paswan was beaten to death by her uncles and grandfather in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh for wearing what?
Be prepared to have your eyes opened...
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Getting copyright right

“Digital” means copying. Attempts to defend copyright the old-fashioned way could have unforeseen consequences for the web, says Joe McNamee.

This article was originally published on Open Democracy, as a part of a week-long series on the future digital freedom guest-edited by Index


Author sues reviewer over comments on Amazon

A father of three from Nuneaton, UK, appeared in the High Court yesterday to face libel allegations over a book review he wrote on Amazon.

Vaughan Jones, 28, appeared at the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday for a hearing to defend himself against the libel suit from online entrepreneur Chris McGrath.

McGrath, author of “The Attempted Murder of God: Hidden Science You Really Need to Know,” undertook libel action against Jones, after he published a review of the book on Amazon, and comments regarding the book and Mr McGrath himself on Richard Dawkins’s website during September and October 2010. Jones also outed McGrath as the author of the book, which had been written under the pseudonym “Scrooby”.

McGrath is not only suing Jones for his allegedly defamatory comments, but Amazon, Richard Dawkins himself, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation.

Presided over by His Honour Judge Maloney QC, Jones was joined by legal representation for Amazon and the Richard Dawkins Foundation to ascertain if there is a case to answer.

Entrepreneur turned author McGrath believes that Amazon and the Richard Dawkins Foundation did not respond appropriately to the alleged defamatory statements on the respective websites, and thus they are also liable for a defamation suit.

John Kampfner, the Chief Executive of Index on Censorship, said: “That a family man from Nuneaton can face a potentially ruinous libel action for a book review on Amazon shows how archaic and expensive our libel law is.”

Kampfner added that the Libel Reform Campaign, which is underway with English Pen and Sense about Science, is hoping to commit to a bill in the next Queen’s speech to reform the chilling effect libel has on freedom of speech.

The hearing continues today