India at 75 | A look at how the country has fared on global indices through the years

Has India’s performance in areas like press freedom and gender parity become better or worse over the years?

Updated - August 23, 2022 11:51 am IST

Published - August 12, 2022 10:01 pm IST

Women with their faces painted in tricolours pose for photographs in Chennai on August 12, ahead of the 75th Indian Independence Day celebrations

Women with their faces painted in tricolours pose for photographs in Chennai on August 12, ahead of the 75th Indian Independence Day celebrations | Photo Credit: PTI photo

India completes 75 years of Independence on August 15, 2022.

As the country gears up for celebration, we take a look at the country’s performance across global indices based on parameters that govern standards of life and living.

Press Freedom Index

The Press Freedom Index is an annual publication by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an international non-profit organisation. The objective of the Press Freedom Index is to “compare the level of press freedom enjoyed by journalists and media in 180 countries and territories” in the previous calendar year.

For the Press Freedom Index, countries are ranked on a score ranging from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best. The score is calculated based on two parameters: a qualitative parameter that is based on the responses of “press freedom specialists” —including journalists, researchers, and human rights activists— to an RSF questionnaire; and a quantitative parameter that is a count of abuses against journalists and media outlets.

The 2022 edition of the World Press Freedom Index ranked India at 150 out of 180 countries. India’s global score was 41, against Norway’s 92.65 that was ranked at the top.

Reporters Without Borders blamed “violence against journalists, politically partisan media, and concentration of media ownership” for the press freedom crisis in India.

Environmental Performance Index

Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2022 ranked India at the bottom among 180 countries based on performance across parameters related to mitigating climate change, improving environmental health, and protecting ecosystem vitality.

The EPI is published every two years, with the first report being published in 2006.

The ranking uses 40 indicators to determine country-wise scores, and is prepared by researchers from Yale and Columbia Universities in the U.S. In the 2022 report, Denmark is ranked at the top with a score of 77.90, while India scored 18.90.

The Indian government rejected the report, alleging the use of “biased metrics and biased weights” in awarding the scores.

Global Hunger Index

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is an annual ranking of countries based on the following indicators:

Undernourishment: part of population that is undernourished as a result of insufficient calorie intake

Child wasting: children under five years of age who have low weight for their height

Child stunting: children under the age of five who are stunted – lower than usual height for their age

Child mortality: mortality rate of children under five years of age

GHI is an annual publication prepared by NGOs Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe. The report was first published in 2006, and India was ranked 96 out of 119 countries. In the latest report published in October 2021, India was ranked 101 out of 116 countries. The report was rejected by the Indian government, saying that the methodology used in the report was “devoid of ground realities and facts”.

Global Gender Gap Index

The annual Global Gender Gap Index is a part of the Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum. The first Global Gender Gap Index was published in 2006.

The Gender Gap Index uses four parameters -- economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment to decide the rankings. Iceland was ranked at the top with a score of 0.908 out of 1.

The 2022 report mentions that India’s score of 0.629 was its seventh-highest score in the last 16 years, although the country was ranked 135 out of 146 countries. India was also among the three countries where the increase in the share of women in professional and technical roles was most significant. In health and survival, India was among the worst global performers.

Global Climate Risk Index

Published annually by Germany-based NGO Germanwatch, the Global Climate Risk Index analyses the extent to which countries have been affected by weather-related loss events like storms, floods, etc.

For the 2021 Global Climate Risk Index, data from 2019 – the most recent available – was analysed along with data from 2000-2019. The countries that were worst affected in 2019 were Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and the Bahamas. India was among the top ten, ranked seventh. The higher the rank, the worse the effect of weather-related events on a country.

Corruption Perceptions Index

The annual Corruption Perceptions Index scores countries by “perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business people”. On a scale of 0 to 100, 0 is highly corrupt, while 100 is very clean. The annual report is published by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, and its first edition was released in 1995.

The 2021 report ranked 180 countries, and the global average score was 43 out of 100. An analysis showed that protecting human rights is important for reducing corruption in society, and the 2021 report noted that stagnating anti-corruption efforts are accompanied by an assault on human rights and democracy.

India scored 40 on the latest Corruption Perceptions Index and was ranked 85. This was, however, not India’s worst performance on the index.

Do rising levels of corruption enable authoritarianism? | In Focus podcast

Henley Passport Index

The Henley Passport Index is essentially a measure of how powerful a country’s passport is, i.e., the number of destinations that a country’s passport holder can visit without a prior visa. The rankings are prepared by Henley & Partners based on data from the International Air Transport Association.

The first edition of the Henley Passport Index was published in 2006, when India was ranked 71. In the 2022 edition of the report, India is ranked 87. According to the report, Indian passport-holders can access 60 visa-free destinations around the world. The leader of the index is Japan, whose passport-holders can access 193 visa-free destinations.

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