IAMC Weekly News Digest, 23rd April 2021
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent bi-partisan commission, has recommended for the second year in the row that the State Department put India on a list (‘Countries of Particular Concern’ or CPCs) for the worst violations of religious freedoms in 2020. One out of the ten USCIRF commissioners presented a dissenting view. The USCISRF recommended that the administration impose targeted sanctions on Indian individuals and entities for ‘severe violations of religious freedom’. The key concerns of the 2021 report include the Citizenship Amendment Act which went into effect in early 2020 and fast-tracks citizenship for non-Muslim refugees from South Asian countries meeting certain other criteria….
An unknown hacker planted more than 30 documents that investigators deemed incriminating on a laptop belonging to an Indian activist accused of terrorism, a new forensic analysis finds, indicating a more extensive use of malicious software than previously revealed. The report will heighten concerns about the controversial prosecution of a group of government critics under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Arsenal Consulting, a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm, examined an electronic copy of the laptop at the request of defense lawyers…. A previous analysis by Arsenal… found that 10 letters had been deposited on the laptop, including one that discussed an alleged plot to assassinate Modi. The latest report by Arsenal finds that 22 additional documents were also delivered to the computer by the same attacker….
…. “it has become clear that his style of leadership poses an existential threat to the world’s largest democracy. Through his wildly successful promotion of Hindutva ideology, Modi is poised to remake India into a Russian-style ‘managed democracy’ – one retaining all the trappings of democracy while operating as a de facto autocracy.”… … last year, Freedom House, an organisation that continually monitors the health of democracies, had judged India to be a “free” society. This year, the country’s rating is “partly free”. All of which impales American tech giants, especially Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix, on the horns of an ethical dilemma. For them, India represents a huge market – bigger than China…. The Indian market, being less centrally controlled, has enormous potential for growth. But in order to thrive there the companies must reach an accommodation with an authoritarian government that doesn’t brook criticism, never mind opposition.