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The Wire’s Arfa Khanum is to give a lecture on ‘Downgrading of India’s democracy’ at UMass but skips mentioning this little detail

A number of Western organisations with dubious funding sources, often release their version of grades and ranks for other nations. Their methodology and parameters have been criticised by many. For example, the Sweden-based V-Dem institute had recently ranked India below Afghanistan and Pakistan in Academic Freedom Index. The report was ridiculed widely.

On December 5, The Wire’s senior editor Arfa Khanum Sherwani said in a tweet that she was invited by the University of Massachusetts (UMass), Boston, to deliver a lecture on “India at 75: The downgrading of India’s democracy and role of the Press”. Arfa also shared the poster of the event. However, she skipped mentioning a few details about the event.

Tweet shared by Arfa Khanum Sherwani. Source: Twitter

The poster Arfa shared was cropped conveniently leaving the information about the sponsors of the event. The event which has been organised by the UMass Boston History Department is sponsored by four organisations that are Asian Studies Department, Political Science Department, the Boston South Asia Coalition, and the Indian American Muslim Council.

Complete Poster of the event. Source: UMass Boston History Department FB page

Indian American Muslim Council

The Indian American Muslim Council is a radical Islamist group that has alleged links with banned terror organizations such as the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and has a long history of lobbying against India. IAMC claims to be the “largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the US” and often advocates for Sharia courts and peddles misinformation against India.

A detailed report by Disinfo Lab has exposed its links with the terror outfit Jamat-e-Islami. IAMC founder Shaik Ubaid and member Abdul Malik Mujahid have headed the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the US front for Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan.

According to DisInfo Lab, ICNA has established links with Pakistan-based terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Rasheed Ahmed, who heads the IAMC currently was the former executive director of the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA). IMANA’s Director of Operations is Zahid Mahmood an ex-Pak Navy official.

IAMC has been caught spreading fake news and misinformation to further the Islamist cause in India. It was also slapped with UAPA in 2021.

The Wire and fake news

It is notable here that the far Left portal The Wire, where Arfa Khanum works as an editor, had recently published multiple reports warning of a danger to India’s democracy by attributing some technological superpowers to BJP’s Amit Malviya and an imaginary app called Tek Fog. Both the claims were found to be baseless and full of lies. The Wire had to retract both stories after they got slammed for making false claims.

Information about the event is missing from University’s website

OpIndia checked Facebook pages and event sections of the Asian Studies Department, Political Science Department, Boston South Asia Coalition and History Department at UMass Boston. Only the History Department has announced the event on its Facebook page but the information was not available on the website of the University. Generally, if an event is being organised by the University with proper permissions in place, an announcement is made on the website which was not the case.

Event information was not available on UMass’s website. No information was available on the Departments’ events pages as well. Source: UMass Boston Website

OpIndia has contacted the History Department and the person whose contact information was available in the portion of the poster that Arfa decided to snip off before sharing it on her social media accounts. We will update once more information on the event comes in.

The ‘downgrading of India’s democracy’

In the last couple of years, some foreign organisations have claimed that because of the current regime in power at the centre of India, democracy in the country is at stake. In March this year, V-Dem institute downgraded India’s democracy ratings. Last year, Freedom House did the same.

A number of Western organisations with dubious funding sources, often release their version of grades and ranks for other nations. Their methodology and parameters have been criticised by many. For example, the Sweden-based V-Dem institute had recently ranked India below Afghanistan and Pakistan in Academic Freedom Index. The report was ridiculed widely.

the V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) Institute ranked India in the top ten autocratic countries in the world. Continuing with baseless anti-India propaganda by western organisations, they have also stated that the country’s democratic orientation will deteriorate.

According to the Swedish Institute’s research, India is in the bottom 40% to 50% of countries on V-Dem’s Liberal Democracy Index (LDI). According to the research, 15 nations are seeing a fresh wave of democratization, while 32 countries are experiencing autocracy. Last year, the institute classified India as an “electoral autocracy.”

V-Dem Institute and the Democracy Report

V-Dem is for Varieties of Democracy, and the Institution was created in 2014 by Professor Staffan I. Lindberg as an independent research organization. It promises to be a new way of thinking and assessing democracy. It provides a variety of studies that rate the countries on a variety of topics.

The Democracy Report is one among the reports published by V-Dem. V-Dem claims to be able to measure hundreds of distinct aspects of democracy and to open up new avenues for research into the nature, causes, and outcomes of democracy in all of its facets.

Who funds V-Dem Institute?

As the V-Dem institute claims to be an independent research organization, they are funded by many other institutions and governments. The contributors of funds to the institute range from the Canadian International Development Agency to the World Bank Group.

Surprisingly, the Open Society Foundation, which is led by George Soros, also funds the institute. Soros is a self-proclaimed philanthropist and Hungarian-American investor who has sworn to ‘fight nationalists’ and conservative governments throughout the world, which he commonly refers to as ‘authoritarian governments.’

George Soros’ sponsorship of the V-Dem Institute reveals a lot about the organization’s intentions toward India. Soros has publicly expressed his hatred for India and has often denounced the Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His support for an organization that ranks India as a dying democracy highlights the hollowness of the institute’s findings.

About Open Society Foundation and George Soros

In 1999, the Open Society Foundation began activities in India by providing scholarships and fellowships to pursue studies and research at Indian colleges. Through the OSF, George Soros made significant contributions towards the spread of instability in India.

By actively supporting anti-India groups operating within India, the left-wing international organization led by Soros stretched its claws across the country under the pretext of undertaking humanitarian initiatives. Since its inception in India, OSF has attempted to meddle in the country’s internal affairs through a wide and linked network of organizations sponsored by George Soros. These organizations play a critical role in distorting the actual narrative and using the judiciary and the media to obstruct the national interest.

About Freedom House

US-based Human Rights ‘watchdog’, Freedom House has downgraded India from ‘Free’ to ‘Partly Free’. According to the watchdog, “India’s status declined from Free to Partly Free due to a multiyear pattern in which the Hindu nationalist government and its allies have presided over rising violence and discriminatory policies affecting the Muslim population and pursued a crackdown on expressions of dissent by the media, academics, civil society groups, and protesters”.

Citing “key developments” in 2020 that contributed to the ‘downgrading’ of India, the report says that in February 2020, more than 50 people, mostly Muslims were killed in the communal violence that followed the protests related to Citizenship Amendment Act. Interestingly, the report classifies CAA as a change in Indian citizenship law without really mentioning that the citizenship rights of Indian citizens, whether Hindus or Muslims, were not affected by the law. The CAA was meant for persecuted minorities from neighbouring Islamic nations to get Indian citizenship in an expedient manner. Further, the report completely misses the established fact that the Delhi Riots were not spontaneous in nature.

Freedom House – Funded almost wholly by the US government, acting as a policy arm of the US establishment

According to its website, “Freedom House’s programs support human rights and democracy advocates in their efforts to promote open government, defend human rights, strengthen civil society and facilitate the free flow of information and ideas”. From the mere wording of it, Freedom House seems like any other liberal advocacy group that is heavily funded to interfere in the domestic politics of countries around the work.

According to its 2016 financial statement, Freedom House generated 86% of its revenue from the US government itself.

While claiming that the Freedom in the World report received no government funding, it discloses that the report is made possible by the ‘generous support’ of the National Endowment for Democracy, among other donors.

A look into NED shows that the claim by Freedom House, that the report receives no government funding, is misleading.

On their website itself, it is mentioned that NED receives massive grants from the US government.

The connection to George Soros

Open Society Foundation, run by notorious billionaire George Soros also lists Freedom House as one of their allies.

On its website, the Open Society Foundation says, “Partnerships with other donors contribute significantly to the work of the Open Society Institute and the Soros foundations network. In some instances, these partnerships involve explicit agreements with other donors to share costs. At other times, they take place informally when another donor determines to support a project OSI has initiated or, conversely, when we build upon another donor’s initiative. In some cases, other donors contribute directly to one of the Soros foundations in support of a particular project”.

Therefore, it seems clear that Freedom House is an arm of the US establishment and has a connection with the US State Department, so much so, that without that funding, Freedom House would seize to exist. Further, as elucidated above, Freedom House is often described as an arm of the US foreign policy that carries out the tasks that the US government cannot do itself explicitly.

It also has ties to George Soros, who had explicitly declared war against nationalist governments and leaders, specifically naming Prime Minister Narendra Modi as one of his targets. Therefore, it would not be far-fetched to say that Freedom House itself acts as a propaganda arm to effect illegal regime change around the world.

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