After India’s status was downgraded from ‘Free’ to ‘Partly Free‘ by the US government-funded NGO Freedom House, the Centre is considering coming up with a home-bred ‘world democracy report’ and a ‘global press freedom index.’
According to a report by Hindustan Times, the ministry of external affairs is in talks about two new indices to be brought out by an independent Indian think tank.
The discussions to do this were going on before recent reports by Freedom House and V-Dem Institute downgraded India’s democratic rankings.
News18 could not independently verify the development.
In March this year, the Centre issued a point-by-point rebuttal to the report by Freedom House that downgraded India’s ranking on its freedom index and classified it as a ‘Partly Free’ country.
In its statement, the government had said that the ‘Freedom in the World’ report is “misleading, incorrect and misplaced”.
The report had given India a ‘global freedom score’ of 67/100, after judging it on various political rights and civil liberties. The issues raised by the report included the alleged discrimination suffered by Muslims in India.
It also pointed to arrests of activists involved in different movements, and actions taken against some NGOs based in India.
The government, however, defended India’s freedom record, pointing to the fact that many states are ruled by parties other than the one at the national level, noting that they are chosen through an election process that is free and fair and conducted by an independent election body.
This, it said, reflects the working of a vibrant democracy, which gives space to those who hold varying views.
Again in March, within weeks of the Freedom House report, the fifth annual democracy report by Sweden’s V-Dem Institute, titled ‘Autocratisation goes viral’, downgraded India from “the world’s largest democracy” to an “electoral autocracy”, citing “muzzling” of the media, and overuse of defamation and sedition laws.
While India’s score was at an all-time high at 0.57 (on a scale of 0-1) in 2013, it had declined to 0.34 by the end of 2020 — a loss of 23 percentage points in seven years. “Most of the decline occurred following BJP’s victory in 2014 and their Hindu nationalist agenda,” said the report.