In this ranking for 2009, by Reporters without Borders, India's freedom of press comes in at rank 106 out of 175 countries (top 60th percentile). We're in the company of Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala and Oman. Ouch! (In 2002, we were slightly worse: we were in the top 56th percentile). If you'd like to think about how this can be made better, an ideal starting point is their questionnaire.
There is a great piece by Donald Morrison on the Dreyfus Affair in the Financial Times. I often wonder whether India has the depth of commitment to human rights and liberal values to be able to achieve a similar outcome. At present, I'm not convinced. As Norman Mailer said: Democracy is a state of grace that is attained only by those countries who have a host of individuals not only ready to enjoy freedom but to undergo the heavy labor of maintaining it. At present, in India, I don't see that bunch of people who care about freedom and will safeguard it.
Authoritarianism vs. the Internet by Daniel Calingaert goes into the ways in which the Net increases freedom, and the way governments are fighting back. I got nervous when I read this description about some of the things that repressive regimes do:
Users are required to register with an ISP when they purchase internet access at home or at work, so that they cannot operate online anonymously. Customers at cybercafes have to present identification, and cybercafes install software to monitor and filter customers' web browsing. In Vietnam, cybercafe owners are required to keep a record for 30 days of all the websites their customers visit.Do we do similar things in India?
The article by Calingaert led me on to this measurement of the freedom on the Internet in 15 countries by Freedom House. Their score shows:
|Rank||Country||Measure of repression|
I've seen the following pattern repeatedly: In measures of governance quality, India looks good when compared with China and Russia. So two of the BRIC countries really have a system of governance which is not comparable with that found in India. Far more interesting are the BSST countries -- Brazil, South Africa, South Korea and Taiwan -- which are democracies much like India, and have a lot of things done right in governance which India should learn from.