Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Index of Economic Freedom 2012

Nepal is ranked 147th on 'Index of Economic Freedom 2012' among 184 countries. Nepal’s economic freedom score is 50.2 — an improvement by 0.1 — from last year, with an improvement in investment freedom offset by deterioration in business freedom,” according to the 18th annual Index of Economic Freedom released on 12th January 2012 by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.
However, the report revealed that economic freedom has declined worldwide in 2011 as many countries attempted — without success — to spend their way out of recession. “The global average economic freedom score for the 2012 Index stands at 59.5 — on a scale in which 100 represents the ideal — down two-tenths of a point from 2011.”
The Index that covers 10 freedoms — from property rights to entrepreneurship in 184 economies across the world — ranked Nepal 32nd out of 41 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, though its score remains far below world and regional averages.
Nepal’s statist approach to the economy continues to hold development progress far below the country’s potential, it said, adding that the foundations of economic freedom are extremely weak, and corruption, a lack of transparency, and a burdensome business approval process impede much-needed expansion of private investment and production. “Property rights are poorly protected by the inefficient judicial system, which is subject to substantial political influence.”
Overall, the economy lacks the entrepreneurial dynamism for broad-based economic growth and sustainable long-term development, the report said. Its scores for investment freedom and financial freedom are among the worst in the world. State interference continues to hurt regulatory efficiency, and there has been little effort to open the economy or engage in world markets. Lingering political instability undermines the government’s ability and willingness to implement necessary economic reforms, according to the annual report that ranked Hong Kong and Singapore the first and second freest economies for the 18th straight year. Australia and New Zealand ranked third and fourth, and Switzerland fifth followed by Canada, Chile, Mauritius, Ireland and the US under the top 10 free economies.
Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan and Liechtenstein are not ranked.
According to the Index, the scores of 75 countries improved while 90 countries lost economic freedom. Fourteen countries showed no change.
Of the 75 showing improvement, 73 are considered emerging or developing countries, with many situated in the Sub-Saharan Africa, the Asia-Pacific, and South and Central America/Caribbean regions.
Economic freedom is not only a crucial component of liberty but it also reveals level of poverty and economic growth as it empowers people to work, produce, consume, own, trade, and invest according to their personal choices. Economic freedom matters the most as only an economically free nation can compete in the global market.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Democracy Index 2011

The results of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index 2011 show that democracy has been under intense pressure in many parts of the world. In most regions the average democracy score for 2011 is lower than in 2010, including the developed countries of North America and Western Europe. There was a decline in the average score for Eastern Europe and small declines for both Asia and Latin America. These were offset by increase in average scores in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Sub-Saharan Africa. The index released on first week of January 2012.
According to 'The Democracy Index 2011 : Democracy under stress' Nepal is ranked 108th among 167 countries and territories. In the index other South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation (SAARC)'s members are India 39th, Sri Lanka 57th, Bangladesh 83rd, Bhutan 104th and Pakistan 105th. Maldives is not included in the index.
The United States ranks 19th, one notch below the United Kingdom. At the bottom of the Democracy Index 2011 rankings, at 167th, is North Korea.
A total of 53 countries, including all three Baltic states, are considered flawed democracies. Hybrid regimes are found in 37 countries, while authoritarianism reigns in 52.
The report scores countries based on five measures: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Based on their scores, countries are placed in one of four different regime categories: full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.
It said almost one-half of the world’s population lives in a democracy of some sort, although only 11 per cent reside in full democracies, adding that some 2.6 billion people, more than one-third of the world’s population, still lives under authoritarian rule with a large share being in China.
The report said flawed democracies are concentrated in Latin America and eastern Europe, and to a lesser extent in Asia.
“This has affected mainly electronic media, which is often under state control or heavy state influence although repression and infringements of the freedom of expression have also extended to the print media and, most recently, the Internet,” said the report. The ranking shows the first 10 full democracies as Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Finland and the Netherlands.
And according to the report, the last 10 authoritarian regimes are Syria, Iran, Central African Republic, Saudi Arabia, Equatorial Guinea, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Chad and North Korea
The report said free and fair elections and civil liberties are necessary conditions for democracy, but they are unlikely to be sufficient for a full and consolidated democracy if unaccompanied by transparent and at least minimally efficient government, sufficient political participation and a supportive democratic political culture.
However, the report said: “It is not easy to build a sturdy democracy. Even in long-established ones, democracy can corrode if not nurtured and protected.”

World Press Freedom Index 2011

Nepal ranked 106th in World Press Freedom Index 2011/2012. Nepal witnessed a modest improvement in press freedom last year improving the ranking in the Press Freedom Index by 13 positions, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on 25th January 2012.
 “In Nepal, a decline in attacks by Maoist groups in the south and greater efficiency on the part of the justice system account for the modest improvement in the country’s ranking,” RSF said. “However, press freedom was marred by threats and attacks by politicians and armed groups throughout the year.” 
Nepal is ranked 106th. The country was at 119th position in Press Freedom Index 2010.
Nepal’s ranking is however one of the best ranking that the South Asian nations received. Only Bhutan (70) and Maldives (73) are ahead of Nepal while Bangladesh (129), India (131), Afghanistan (150), Pakistan (151) and Sri Lanka (163) all rank lower than Nepal.
The media freedom watchdog also added that the Nepali journalists were regularly subjected to threats from rival political groups and their supporters in 2011.
The report noted that violence and censorship on the rise in Asia as violence and impunity persist in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Philippines. It also noted more repression on press in Sri Lanka, Vietnam and China.
The Index assesses condition of freedom of expression in 179 countries, with first places occupied by Finland, Norway, Estonia, the Netherlands and Austria.
“With 10 deaths in 2011, Pakistan was the world’s deadliest country for journalists for the second year in a row,” the report said.
“This year’s index sees many changes in the rankings, changes that reflect a year that was incredibly rich in developments, especially in the Arab world,” RSF said on global review of media freedom. 
“Many media paid dearly for their coverage of democratic aspirations or opposition movements. Control of news and information continued to tempt governments and to be a question of survival for totalitarian and repressive regimes. The past year also highlighted the leading role played by netizens in producing and disseminating news.”
Syria, Bahrain, Yemen received their worst ever press freedom ranking Wednesday in Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) index for 2011, a tumultuous year that saw the downfall of several Arab dictators.
Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan came right at the bottom of the 10th annual list by the press freedom group, with the same clutch of European states -- led by Finland, Norway and Estonia -- at the top.
This year's index saw many changes in the rankings that reflect a year in which many media organisations paid dearly for their coverage of popular uprisings against veteran autocratic leaders, RSF said.
"Control of news and information continued to tempt governments and to be a question of survival for totalitarian and repressive regimes," said the Paris-based group.
RSF said it was no surprise that the same trio of countries -- Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan -- were bottom of the list because they were "absolute dictatorships that permit no civil liberties".
"They are immediately preceded at the bottom by Syria, Iran and China, three countries that seem to have lost contact with reality as they have been sucked into an insane spiral of terror," it said. 
Bahrain and Vietnam -- both described as "quintessential oppressive regimes" -- were also down at the bottom, while RSF said "other countries such as Uganda and Belarus have also become much more repressive".
Tunisia rose 30 places from last year's index to 134th but "has not yet fully accepted a free and independent press", according to RSF.
Bahrain, now ranked 173rd, fell 29 places because of its "relentless crackdown on pro-democracy movements, its trials of human rights defenders and its suppression of all space for freedom," the group said.
Egypt fell 39 places to 166th "because the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in power since February, dashed the hopes of democrats by continuing the (ousted president Hosni) Mubarak dictatorship's practices."
"Total censorship, widespread surveillance, indiscriminate violence and government manipulation made it impossible for journalists to work" in Syria last year, which fell to 176th position in the index.
Elsewhere, pro-democracy movements that tried to follow the Arab example were ruthlessly suppressed, with, for example, many arrests made in Vietnam (172nd), said RSF. 
In China, which ranks 174th, the government responded to regional and local protests and to public impatience with scandals by feverishly reinforcing its system of controlling news and information, it said.
China carried out extrajudicial arrests and stepped up internet censorship, it added. 
In Azerbaijan (162nd), there was a dramatic rise in the number of arrests, as the government jailed netizens, abducted opposition journalists and barred foreign reporters in order to impose a news blackout on unrest, it said.
Led by President Yoweri Museveni, Uganda (139th) launched "an unprecedented crackdown on opposition movements and independent media after the elections in February". 
Similarly, Chile (80th) fell 47 places because of its many freedom of information violations, committed very often by security forces during student protests. 
The United States (47th) also owed its fall of 27 places to the many arrests of journalists covering Occupy Wall Street protests. 
The index highlighted the divergence of some European countries from the rest of the continent. 
The crackdown on protests after President Alexander Lukashenko's re-election caused Belarus to fall 14 places to 168th. 
Turkey (148th) lost 10 places because it failed to carry out promised reforms and launched a wave of arrests of journalists that was without precedent since the military dictatorship, RSF said.
Within the European Union, the index reflected a continuation of the distinction between states like Finland and Netherlands that have always had a high ranking and states like Bulgaria (80th), Greece (70th) and Italy (61st).
RSF noted South Sudan among its "noteworthy changes" of 2011, pointing out that the new nation had entered the index in a respectable position (111th) for what is a breakaway from one of the worst ranked countries, Sudan (170th). 
But it said that Africa also saw the biggest falls in the index. 

All countries

1 Finland
- Norway
3 Estonia
- Netherlands
5 Austria
6 Iceland
- Luxembourg
8 Switzerland
9 Cape Verde
10 Canada
- Denmark
12 Sweden
13 New Zealand
14 Czech Republic
15 Ireland
16 Cyprus
- Jamaica
- Germany
19 Costa Rica
20 Belgium
- Namibia
22 Japan
- Surinam
24 Poland
25 Mali
- Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
- Slovakia
28 United Kingdom
29 Niger
30 Australia
- Lithuania
32 Uruguay
33 Portugal
34 Tanzania
35 Papua New Guinea
36 Slovenia
37 El Salvador
38 France
39 Spain
40 Hungary
41 Ghana
42 South Africa
- Botswana
44 South Korea
45 Comoros
- Taiwan
47 United States of America
- Argentina
- Romania
50 Latvia
- Trinidad and Tobago
52 Haiti
53 Moldova
54 Hong-Kong
- Mauritius
- Samoa
57 United States of America (extra-territorial)
58 Malta
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Guyana
61 Italy
62 Central African Republic
63 Lesotho
- Sierra Leone
- Tonga
66 Mozambique
67 Mauritania
68 Croatia
- Burkina Faso
70 Bhutan
- Greece
72 Nicaragua
73 Maldives
- Seychelles
75 Guinea-Bissau
- Senegal
77 Armenia
78 Kuwait
79 Togo
80 Serbia
- Bulgaria
- Chile
- Paraguay
84 Kenya
- Madagascar
86 Guinea
- Kosovo
- Timor-Leste
- Zambia
90 Congo
91 Benin
92 Israel (Israeli territory)
93 Lebanon
94 Macedonia
95 Dominican Republic
96 Albania
97 Cameroon
- Guatemala
99 Brazil
100 Mongolia
101 Gabon
102 Cyprus (North)
103 Chad
104 Ecuador
- Georgia
106 Nepal
107 Montenegro
108 Bolivia
- Kyrgyzstan
110 Liberia
111 South Sudan
112 United Arab Emirates
113 Panama
114 Qatar
115 Peru
116 Ukraine
117 Cambodia
- Fiji
- Oman
- Venezuela
- Zimbabwe
122 Algeria
- Tajikistan
- Malaysia
125 Brunei
126 Nigeria
127 Ethiopia
128 Jordan
129 Bangladesh
130 Burundi
131 India
132 Angola
133 Israel (extra-territorial)
134 Tunisia
135 Singapore
- Honduras
137 Thailand
138 Morocco
139 Uganda
140 Philippines
141 Gambia
142 Russia
143 Colombia
144 Swaziland
145 Democratic Republic of Congo
146 Indonesia
- Malawi
148 Turkey
149 Mexico
150 Afghanistan
151 Pakistan
152 Iraq
153 Palestinian Territories
154 Kazakhstan
- Libya
156 Rwanda
157 Uzbekistan
158 Saudi Arabia
159 Côte d’Ivoire
- Djibouti
161 Equatorial Guinea
162 Azerbaijan
163 Sri Lanka
164 Somalia
165 Laos
166 Egypt
167 Cuba
168 Belarus
169 Burma
170 Sudan
171 Yemen
172 Vietnam
173 Bahrein
174 China
175 Iran
176 Syria
177 Turkmenistan
178 North Korea
179 Eritrea