Instead of denying slide in democratic values, India must work to fix it

Synopsis: India’s performance in global rankings in political affairs has taken a dip. This calls for deep introspection.

Introduction

India has ranked low in various global democracy reports. This is not good for India, as it tarnishes the image of India.

What are the findings of the various reports?

Freedom House Index 2021: It demoted India’s rank from 71 to 67. Now India has been shifted from the “Free” to the “Partial Free” category.

V Dem ranking: It also downgraded India’s rank and labelled the country as an “electoral autocracy”.

Economic Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index: It has also lowered India’s rank from 7.92 in 2014 to 6.61 in 2020. India’s ranking has dropped from 27 to 53 out of 167 countries.

Reporters without Borders’ Press Freedom Report: It placed India 167th out of 183 countries. It has given India a score of 2 out of 4 in terms of press freedom, and has stated that the Indian press is “partially free”.

What are the reasons for the lower rankings?

There have been many instances where the government crackdown on freedom of speech. Journalists have come under fire, with cases like sedition being filed on them. There is an increase of 165% in sedition cases between 2016 and 2019. Hate and polarization are increasing in society. There is increased pressure on human rights organizations and civil rights groups.

This was also pointed by EIU’s Democracy Index. The Indian government, however, challenged the report. The issue got highlighted when EIU refused to share the data based on which rankings were provided. After this, the Indian government is considering a parallel global democracy index formulated by Indian think-tanks.

How is the Indian democracy index is formed?

It is an aggregate of 60 questions. These questions range from electrical process to pluralism. This is a backed-up assessment of the experts. However, the report does not give the details of the expert assessment.

How do we access the Indian scenario?

One can question the EIU, but even other agencies have been critical of India.

EIU pointed that the internet shutdown in Kashmir and CAA issues have brought down the Indian ratings.

However, Kaushik Basu (former Chief Economist of World Bank) also highlighted the tendencies in India to fabricate data to attack any specific country. This was seen in unemployment data, COVID data etc. Such incidents, according to him, reduce the reputation of any nation.

What should be the way forward?

Indian government often goes into denial mode. We should instead introspect and look for corrective actions that we can take to make our system and society more democratic.

Source: This post is based on the article “Instead of denying slide in democratic values, India must work to fix it“ published in Indian Express on 15th September 2021.

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