V-Dem, an independent research-based institute at the University of Gothenburg, has published its 2020 report titled, ‘Autocratisation Surges – Resistance Grows,’ which reflects upon the global spirit of the declining Democracy and lists India as one of the countries with declining democracies.
The institute was set-up in 2014 and publishes a data enriched report on world-wide democracy every year since 2017. The organization calls itself the world’s largest data collection project on democracy.
The 2020 report presents figures according to which autocracies form a majority and are present in a total of 92 countries housing 54% of the global population. The detailed analysis sheds light upon how totalitarianism is becoming a global phenomenon. “Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where a greater share of the population is still being affected by democratization rather than autocratisation,” it notes as per The Wire.
Academic freedom has met an average decline of 13% in autocratising countries (one of which is India) over the last 10 years, and the right to peaceful assembly and protest has declined by 14% on average in such countries. Attacks on the freedom of expression and media are affecting 31 countries.
As per the study made by the organization the major G20 nations and all regions of the world are now part of the “third wave of autocratisation” which is having impacts on the major economies with sizeable populations, like India, Brazil, US and Turkey.
“India has continued on a path of steep decline, to the extent it has almost lost its status as a democracy,” the preface to the report mentions.
As per its findings, India is the largest country proceeding towards autocracy in terms of its population. The report states that the Indian scenario suggests that the “first steps of autocratisation involve eliminating media freedom and curtailing civil society.” As below observed India is still mentioned as an electoral democracy but the signs of deterioration are detailed in the study,
“…the 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”, mentions the report to illustrate this finding.
A central ‘Index monitoring cell’ has been set up to examine the how and whys behind the poor ranking of India on the global press freedom indices. Its findings are expected shortly.
The report uses a method of population weightage, that measures average democracy levels by population size, that is, how many people are affected to arrive at a Liberal Democracy Index (LDI). This index combines measures of the quality of elections, suffrage, freedom of expression and the media, freedom of association and civil society checks on the executive, and the rule of law.
The report has gained attraction now on social media, was originally published in March 2020, just as the anti- Citizenship Amendment Act protests were forced to withdraw from the streets and move to online modes due to the pandemic.
The questioning of the Indian Democracy by an International watchdog is a matter of concern for the entire nation. Interestingly enough, one of the first photographs used in the report is that of a woman in a burqa in India, holding up a placard saying, “We want democracy, not a dictatorship.”