Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Freedom in the World 2020


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Freedom in the World Report

Mains level : Read the attached story


India has become one of the world’s least free democracies, according to a global survey.

Freedom in the World Report

  • It is a yearly survey and report by the U.S. based non-governmental organization Freedom House.
  • It measures the degree of civil liberties and political rights in every nation and significant related and disputed territories around the world.
  • The report derives its methodology from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948.
  • It covers 195 countries, awarding scores based on political rights indicators such as the electoral process, political pluralism and participation and government functioning, as well as civil liberties indicators related to freedom of expression and belief associational and organisational rights, the rule of law and personal autonomy and individual rights.

Highlights of the report



Deteriorating freedom in India

  • The report ranks India at the 83rd position, along with Timor-Leste and Senegal.
  • This is near the bottom of the pile among the countries categorised as “Free”.
  • India’s score fell by four points to 71, the worst decline among the world’s 25 largest democracies this year.
  • India scored 34 out of 40 points in the political rights category, but only 37 out of 60 in the civil liberties category, for a total score of 71, a drop from last year’s score of 75.
  • The report treats “Indian Kashmir” as a separate territory, which saw its total score drop precipitously from 49 to 28 this year, moving it from a status of “Partly Free” to “Not Free”.

Reason for the downfall

  • The annulment of autonomy and the subsequent shutdown of Kashmir, the NRC and the CAA, as well as the crackdown on mass protests, have been listed as the main signs of declining freedom in the report.
  • These three actions have shaken the rule of law in India and threatened the secular and inclusive nature of its political system said the report.
  • The report slammed the internet blackout in Kashmir terming it the longest shutdown ever imposed by democracy.
  • It said freedom of expression was under threat in India, with journalists, academics and others facing harassment and intimidation when addressing politically sensitive topics.
  • It warned that the Indian government’s alarming departures from democratic norms under present govt. could blur the values-based distinction between Beijing and New Delhi.

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