New Delhi: Weeks after reports by Freedom House and V-Dem Institute downgraded India’s democratic rankings, the ministry of external affairs is now mulling a “world democracy report” as well as a “global press freedom index” to be brought out by an independent Indian think tank, reports said.
“We may encourage one of the Indian independent think tanks to bring out its own annual world democracy report based on comprehensive parameters as well as an annual global freedom of press index,” Hindustan Times quoted an internal note prepared by the MEA earlier this year.
The matter is still being considered and no decision has been taken.
The discussions on formulating indigenous indices on democracy and freedom came up after the PMO forwarded a letter written by former Prasar Bharti chairman and current executive member of the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (NMML), A Surya Prakash to the MEA, suggesting that India should counter reports such as the report from the Sweden-based V-Dem Institute and the Press Freedom Index by defining its own parameters on democracy, HT said.
Last week, Sweden’s V-Dem Institute classified India as an ‘electoral autocracy’ because of “restrictions on multiple facets of democracy” such as civil society groups and free speech.
The report particularly highlights the diminishing freedom of expression in India. “India is, in this aspect, now as autocratic as is Pakistan, and worse than both its neighbors Bangladesh and Nepal,” the report noted.
Early this month, Freedom House—a US-based non-governmental organization ranked India 67 points upon 100, downgrading the country to ‘partly free’ from the previous year’s ranking ‘free’.
The report outlined that the condition of political rights and civil liberties in the country has deteriorated since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, with increased pressure on human rights organizations, rising intimidation of academics and journalists, and a spate of bigoted attacks, including lynchings, aimed at Muslims.
However, the central government rebuked the report calling it “misleading, incorrect, and misplaced.” It also offered a clarification to all the points raised against India.