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India's democracy score under NDA "better" than that of previous UPA rule: British conservative thinktank

By Rajiv Shah
The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU), attached with the powerful British conservative weekly “The Economist”, has assessed India as ranking No 32nd, much better than the four peer countries South Africa (39th), Brazil (51st), Russia (134th), and China (136th) in its report Democracy Index 2016.
The EIU report comes despite doubts being expressed worldwide, including in India, about alleged efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to undermine democratic institutions.
Not only does the report, which is sub-titled “Revenge of the ‘Deplorables’”, rank India quite high, it insists, India is among the group of countries such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan which are “close to being classified as ‘full democracies’ (from 'flawed democracies') and could make the transition over the coming years, depending on public support for democratic governance, increased voter turnout or stronger confidence in political parties.”
Significantly, the report, which ranks in all 167 countries, has found that India has improved its overall ranking on a scale of 10 over the years. India’s latest score for 2016 was 7.81, an improvement over 7.74 in 2015, though a slight deterioration from 7.92 in 2014, but it is better than previous years.
India scored 7.69 in 2013, 7.52 in 2012, 7.30 in 2011, and 7.28 in 2010. These years happened to be the years of the Congress-led UPA rule, the report suggests. However, it gives no explanation on how the score went up in under the NDA government, led by the BJP.
What is particularly interesting is, on a scale of 10, India’s score is one of the best for the category "electoral process and pluralism", 9.58. And, despite concerns of human rights violations over the last three years, in civil liberties, too, the report scores India at 9.12 on a scale of 10, again one of the best.
The report appears to suggest, what may be pushing down India’s score is its political culture, in which it scores a poor 5.63 on a scale of 10. It scores 7.50 for functioning of government, and 7.22 for political participation.
The report states, “In the 2016 Democracy Index the average global score fell to 5.52 from 5.55 in 2015 (on a scale of 0 to 10). Some 72 countries experienced a decline in their total score compared with 2015, almost twice as many as the countries which recorded an improvement (38).”
The report says, “In the 2016 Democracy Index five regions, compared with three in 2015, experienced a regression – Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and Western Europe – as signified by a decline in their regional average score.”
It further says, “Eastern Europe recorded by far the biggest decline (from 5.55 to 5.43). Not a single region recorded an improvement in its average score in 2016”, adding, “Two regions, Asia & Australasia and North America”, says the report, “stagnated in 2016.”
“Almost one-half (49.3%) of the world’s population lives in a democracy of some sort, although only 4.5% reside in a ‘full democracy’, down from 8.9% in 2015 as a result of the US being demoted from a ‘full democracy’ to a ‘flawed democracy’”, the report asserts, adding, “Around 2.6bn people, more than one-third of the world’s population, live under authoritarian rule, with a large share being, of course, in China.”
The US, a standard-bearer of democracy for the world, has become a “flawed democracy”, as popular confidence in the functioning of public institutions has declined, the report asserts, adding, “The score for the US fell to 7.98 from 8.05 in 2015, causing the world’s leading economic superpower to slip below the 8.00 threshold for a ‘full democracy’.”

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