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India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

Brazil's far-right president Jair Bolsonaro with Modi
By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.
Titled “Autocratization Surges – Resistance Grows: Democracy Report 2020”, produced by the Produced by the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg, it ranks India 90th in Liberal Democracy Index (LDI) among 179 countries, far better than two immediate neighbours, Pakistan (126) and Bangladesh (154), though worse than Sri Lanka (ranking 70th), Bhutan (66), and Nepal (72). In Electoral Democracy Index (EDI), the report ranks India 89th, better than Pakistan (126) and Bangladesh (139), though worse than Sri Lanka (74), Bhutan (74) and Nepal (75). 
Even as analysing LDI and EDI, the report analyses four other components of democracy – Liberal Component Index (LCI), in which India ranks 93rd; Egalitarian Component Index (ECI), in which India ranks 122nd; Participatory Component Index (PCI), in which India ranks 125th; and Deliberative Component Index (DCI) in which India ranks one of the worst, 145th. The report analyses 149 countries across the world. 
Explaining the four components, the report states, LCI “embodies the importance of protecting individual and minority rights” the tyranny of the state and the majority; ECI “measures to what extent all social groups enjoy equal capabilities” in the political arena; PCI “emphasizes active participation by citizens in all political processes, electoral and non-electoral”; and DCI focuses on public reasoning and common good for political decisions as against “emotional appeals, solidarity attachments, parochial interests or coercion.”
Interestingly, while in all the four components, Pakistan and Bangladesh fare worse than India, in the Deliberative Component Index Pakistan is ranked much better than India – at 78. “According to this principle”, the report asserts, “Democracy requires more than an aggregation of existing preferences. There should also be respectful dialogue at all levels – from preference formation to final decision – among informed and competent participants who are open to persuasion.”
Autocratization is affecting major G20 states such as Brazil, India, USA and Turkey – major economies with sizeable populations
The report says, “Autocratization is affecting major G20 states such as Brazil, India, the United States of America and Turkey – major economies, with sizeable populations, exercising substantial global military, economic, and political influence”, warning, “India is on the verge of losing its status as a democracy due to a severe curtailment of scope for the media, civil society, and the opposition under Prime Minister Modi’s government.”
Noting that autocratization – which suggests “decline of democratic traits” – has accelerated across the globe, the report says, “For the first time since 2001, autocracies are in the majority: 92 countries – home to 54% of the global population.” It adds, “Almost 35% of the world’s population live in autocratizing nations – 2.6 billion people.”
Insisting that while autocratization “is affecting” the US along with Brazil, India and Turkey, the report tanks US at 36 in Liberal Democracy Index and at 38 in Electoral Democracy Index – heads and shoulders above India. As for Brazil, which has lately moved closer to India following the victory of far-right leader, Jair Boslonaro, its LDI and EDI also remains better than India, at 60 on both the scores. But Turkey is rated one of worst – 153rd and 135th respectively.
Giving an overall picture, the report states, “Attacks on freedom of expression and media freedom are now affecting 31 countries, compared to 19 two years ago. Media censorship and the repression of civil society have intensified in a record 37 countries – 11 more than the 26 states currently affected by severe autocratization.” It adds, “These indicators are typically the first to move in a gradual process of autocratization.”
The report also notes that “academic freedom has registered a conspicuous average decline of 13% in autocratizing countries over the last 10 years”, adding, “The right to peaceful assembly and protest has declined by 14% on average in autocratizing countries. Toxic polarization, pro-autocracy mass protests, and political violence rise in many autocratizing countries.”
Sounding a positive note, the report says, across the globe, “Pro-democracy mass mobilization reveals all-time highs in 2019: The share of countries with substantial pro-democracy mass protests rose from 27% in 2009 to 44% in 2019. Citizens are taking to the streets in order to defend civil liberties and the rule of law, and to fight for clean elections and political freedom.”
“The unprecedented degree of mobilization for democracy in light of deepening autocratization is a sign of hope”, the report says, adding, “While pro-autocracy rulers attempt to curtail the space for civil society, millions of citizens have demonstrated their commitment to democracy. Protesters in democracies resist the dismantling of democracy while their counterparts in autocracies are demanding more democracy.”

Comments

Shamsul Islam said…
With Modi's coming to power in 2014 India knew what was going to happen to Indian democracy. He had declared himself to be a 'Hindu nationalist' (first time in independent India's history when a high constitutional office occupier made such a statement) and confessed that RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar had groomed him into a political leader. And what kind of rule Golwalkar wanted was made clear by him when while delivering a speech before the 1350 top-level cadres of the RSS in 1940 declared" "RSS inspired by one flag, one leader and one ideology is lighting the flame of Hindutva in each and every corner of this great land."
Unknown said…
It is a sad truth and there are almost daily reminders for us. For example, apps developed in India for the government are made mandatory for all--whoever heard of such a thing in a democracy???
Anonymous said…
Virtual Development everywhere:

People are innocent, Govt is just doing following things:

- Engage the people somewhere else form core issues.
- Defame the opponents
- Keep doing something to remain in limelight or to divert attention.
- Keep doing marketing/ branding
- Spread fake news/ Fake/ edited history, target people emotionally.
- Takeover all communication mediums: Social media, Media, Papers etc..

Example:
- Actual voters are really innocent, keep engaging them using any of above medium. Rest of the people who understand all this chaos, they are not actually voters (they dont vote actually), leave them as it is.
- Unite people on Hinduism front because its emotional angle and fill up them against Muslims, they will forget all other problem of nations, they will not demand anything else from Govt.
- Spread Nationalism/ Patriotic - This is also emotional angle, people have devotion towards nation.. They will feel that something is happening for nation. (Virtual Development).
- Bring all entities/ things in picture to whom everyone hate like Pakistan, people will remain busy there.

Overall a lot of things happening in this Virtual Era of Virtual Development.
Unknown said…
Your insightful article has further saddened me. Any level headed citizen not corrupted by identity or majoritarian politics is well aware of the constant decline of healthy democracy in India. Democracy is now confined to elections alone which is in itself full of hate speeches and false propaganda and blatant malpractises while the election commision looks the other way.With all democratic institutions, including the judiciary are heavily compromised,where is hope.
Anonymous said…
I wonder what have we achieved in all these years by hitting the RSS the way we do it. Has it made any difference to the growth of this (fascist) organization. Both RSS and CPI were born in the 1920s and see where has the former reached.
I feel there is a dire need to honestly, i repeat HONESTLY, understand this phenomenon called the RSS and build bridges to come closer to it as a strategy. How can you confront your adversary ( or an enemy I may say) withot even knowing it fully.

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