Instead of denying slide in democratic values, India must work to fix it – By S Y Quraishi
The past few years have apparently not been good to Indian democracy, hailed globally as the largest democracy in the world. It has performed poorly in every major global democracy report during this period. This is troubling news, for several reasons.
The Freedom House Index for 2021 pushed India down four points from last year, bringing its score from 71 to 67. This demoted the country from being a “free” to a “partially free” country. V-Dem, the world-renowned think-tank from Sweden, has similarly downgraded India. It has labelled India an “electoral autocracy”…. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has also been scathing in its report for 2021. A comparative study by the organisation has shown India’s score dropping from an all-time high of 7.92 in 2014 to 6.61 in 2020, and its ranking has taken a nosedive from 27 to 53 out of 167 countries.
All these reputed agencies point to several factors contributing to India’s declining performance. The country has seen increased pressure being put on human rights organisations and civil rights groups. Journalists and activists have been intimidated and incarcerated, and minorities have been specifically targeted. Hate and polarisation are rampant. It has even led to Amnesty International halting all activities in India. The most worrying trend has been the government’s crackdown on freedom of speech, with statistics showing a 165 per cent increase in sedition cases between 2016 and 2019….