Monday, February 05, 2018

Democracy Index: India slips 10 ranks, rise of right-wing "Hindu forces", vigilantism, anti-minority violence blamed

By Our Representative
The latest Democracy Index 2017 report, released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (IEU), attached with the powerful British journal "The Economist", has said that "India fell ten places in the rankings, from 32nd to 42nd to place, after its score deteriorated by 0.58 points", from 7.81 a year earlier to 7.23, on a scale of 10. The IEU data show this was the lowest score since 2006, when the IEU first brought it's Democracy Index report.
The report shows that, despite the slip, India still continues to perform better than its neighbours and comparable BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations, with the sole exception of South Africa, which ranks one notch better, 41st. While Pakistan ranks 110th, Bangladesh 92nd and Sri Lanka 62nd, Brazil ranks 49th, Russia 135th and China 139th. In all, 176 countries have been ranked.
Pointing out that "Asia’s two largest emerging democracies, India and Indonesia, suffered significant declines in their scores and fell down the rankings in our latest assessment", the report notes, "The rise of conservative religious ideologies affected India",adding, "The strengthening of right-wing Hindu forces in an otherwise secular country led to a rise of vigilantism and violence against minority communities, particularly Muslims, as well as other dissenting voices."
Company India keeps...
Putting India in the category of "flawed democracy" (as against "full democracies", mainly Western European and North American countries, as also Australia and New Zealand), the report, which has a special focus on the state of media freedom, finds that India ranking 49th in Media Freedom Index.
It underlines, "India has become a more dangerous place for journalists, especially the central state of Chhattisgarh and the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir", adding, "The authorities there have restricted freedom of the press, closed down several newspapers and heavily controlled mobile internet services. Several journalists were murdered in India in 2017, as in the previous year."
The data in the report show that on a scale of 10, India particularly scores poorly in political culture (5.63). Other scores for different categories the EIU report analyses include electoral process and pluralism, in which India scores 9.17, followed by civil liberties 7.35, Electoral process and pluralism 7.23, political participation 7.22 and functioning of government 6.79.
The report finds Norway topping the Democracy Index global ranking, with Iceland and Sweden taking second and third place. New Zealand comes in fourth place and Denmark in fifth. At the other end of the rankings North Korea, with a total score of 1.08, "remains firmly ensconced in last place", the report states, adding, "Syria, Chad, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo also bring up the rear, occupying the four slots above North Korea."
Talking about its methodology, the report takes experts’ assessments alongside, where available, public-opinion surveys, especially those that "predominate heavily in the political participation and political culture categories, civil liberties and functioning of government." In addition to the World Values Survey, other sources leveraged include Eurobarometer surveys, Gallup polls, Asian Barometer, Latin American Barometer, Afrobarometer and national surveys.

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