MEA sends talk points on democracy to Speaker after 'downgrade' by foreign agencies: Report

Treatment of minorities, a crackdown on free speech and civil society restrictions were the reasons cited by the foreign agencies for the downgrading
Last Updated 22 February 2022, 10:52 IST

The Ministry of External Affairs came up with presentations on democracy and sent the same to the Lok Sabha Secretariat for dissemination to Heads of Missions to foreign nations to counter downgrading of the country's democracy ranking, according to a report by The Indian Express.

There was a furore last March when US-based Freedom House and Sweden-based V-Dem Institute downgraded Indian democracy citing treatment of minorities, a crackdown on free speech and civil society restrictions.

Even as the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said that “India is not looking for their approval, is not willing to play the game they want to play” and slammed the “self-appointed custodians of the world,” the report by The Indian Express said that the ministry had prepared a report to showcase Indian Democracy.

The report, citing responses obtained through petitions filed under the Right To Information Act, stated that the ministry's report 'The Indian Way' was sent to the Lok Sabha Secretariat, which is an independent office that functions under the advice of the Lok Sabha Speaker.

However, the report stated that the RTI responses did not share further details, citing Section 8(c) pertaining to breach of privilege of Parliament.

The report stated, citing official sources, that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) provided the inputs to the Lok Sabha Secretariat for briefing Heads of Missions to foreign nations.

The report further stated that another RTI application—seeking information on presentations made or suggested by the speaker to Heads of Missions—was rejected under Section 8 (1) (a) of the RTI Act pertaining to national security.

A spokesperson also denied to comment over the reason for the report being sent to the Lok Sabha Secretariat, given its independent status, the report stated.

Also, the MEA and the Lok Sabha Secretariat denied further clarification or information on RTI appeals seeking detailed information on the presentations regarding democracy and the constitutional propriety of sending it to the Lok Sabha Speaker's office, the report stated.

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(Published 22 February 2022, 08:05 IST)

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