Republic Day celebrations must include fierce discussions about the issues that are destroying the republic
In the Press Freedom Index, India has registered a shocking drop of 60 places since the report was first published in 2002. The index assesses criteria such as pluralism, independent media, media environment and self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information. In the 2020 report, India ranked 142nd out of 180 countries down 2 places from 2019. There was no change since the last report.
Remarkably, India is still among the top 10 countries in the world in the Global Right to Information Index despite falling 4 places in the latest report published in 2018. This index was created by Access Info Europe (IEA ) and the Center for Law and Democracy (CLD) in 2011 when India debuted at the second position. From the second-best place, India has fallen four places in seven years, to settle at number 6 in the 2018 report.
Another important widely respected index is the Human Development Index created by the UNDP 30 years ago as a new way of thinking about and measuring progress. The main dimensions of human development taken into account by the report are a long and healthy life, being well informed and having a decent standard of living. In the latest available report, India ranked 131st, dropping 2 places from 129 in the previous report. Between 1990 and 2010, India experienced a sharp rise in the index, but the curve has been more or less flat for the past 10 years. India, along with Pakistan and Bangladesh, are in the middle development bracket, with India doing slightly better, but Bangladesh growing faster.
India ranked 69th out of 128 countries in the World Justice Project’s 2020 Rule of Law Index, which provides scores and rankings based on eight factors: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulation, enforcement, civil justice and criminal justice. In the 2021 report, India fell nearly 10 places and ranked 79th out of 139 countries. Bangladesh is the only country among South Asian countries that has improved its ranking.
Any celebration of Republic Day, whether by government or political leaders or media and civil society without acknowledging these disturbing figures is a great betrayal to the people of India.