[Answered] What are the issues associated with the methods used by V-Dem democracy to rank India on democracy? Also, discuss the lessons that India can learn from its findings.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain some issues associated with the methods used by V-Dem democracy to rank India on democracy. Also explain what lessons India can learn from its findings.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Report is produced by the Varieties of Democracy Institute at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg. The report is based on the score in the Liberal Democracy Index (LDI). LDI captures both liberal and electoral aspects of democracy, based on the 71 indicators included in the Liberal Component Index (LCI) and the Electoral Democracy Index (EDI). It classifies India as an electoral autocracy ranking it 93rd on the LDI, out of 179 countries.

Issues associated with the methods used by V-Dem democracy:

  • These indices are primarily based on the opinions of a tiny group of unknown “experts”.
  • The questions that are used are subjective and are worded in a way that is impossible to answer objectively even for a country, let alone compare across countries.
  • There are questions that should be asked but are excluded.
  • Certain questions used by these indices are not an appropriate measure of democracy across all countries.

India can learn following lessons from its findings:

  • The Government should hear criticism rather than rejecting it outrightly. Suggestions on eroding democratic values need a thoughtful, and respectful response.
  • The report identified “misinformation” as a key tool deployed by autocratising governments to sharpen polarisation and shape domestic and international opinion. Thus, the press and the judiciary which are considered the pillars of India’s Democracy, require to be independent of any executive interference.
  • In order to maintain trust in public institutions, the principles of legality, legal certainty and prohibition of arbitrariness of the executive powers, judicial independence, impartiality, and equality before the law need to be respected.
  • Strong democracy requires strong opposition. Without an alternative choice, the very objective of election to provide a check on arbitrary power gets defeated.
  • To protect freedom domestically and build support for a foreign policy that protects democratic rights and values abroad, it is essential to foster a stronger public understanding of democratic principles, especially among young people.

Democratic values and principles are core to India’s identity. We need to safeguard India’s Democracy by strengthening its pillars- the Legislature, Executive, Judiciary, and the Media.

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