How Biden Can Bolster India’s Democracy
As a guest at the G-7 summit in the United Kingdom in June, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a special session on “open societies,” where he highlighted his country’s “civilizational commitment to democracy, freedom of thought, and liberty.” Modi’s remarks were laudable, as was India’s support for a G-7 joint statement reaffirming a “shared belief in open societies, democratic values and multilateralism.” Yet only months before, the democracy watchdog Freedom House had downgraded India from “free” to “partly free,” citing a “multiyear pattern” of “rising violence and discriminatory policies affecting the Muslim population and . . . a crackdown on expressions of dissent” under the Modi government.
The health of India’s democracy is a matter of much greater concern for U.S. President Joe Biden than it was for his predecessor. As Biden has sought to restore U.S. leadership on the global stage, he has emphasized liberal values in a world riven between democratic and authoritarian systems. The authoritarian challenge posed by Russia and China is growing, and so, too, is India’s importance as a potential democratic counterweight in the Indo-Pacific.