We've barely recovered from instances of police brutality and violence during anti-CAA protests. There is still enough discontent brewing around acts and policies. Our country, the world's largest democracy recently got another setback. India has slipped 10 places on the Democracy Index report released by The Economist Intelligence Unit (news and general affairs publication) in its annual report. According to the latest ranking, our country has been included in the "flawed democracy" category and it is worrisome, infuriating and saddening.
Before we go ahead, let's first understand why Democracy Index is important and what does it account for.
According to The Economist, the Democracy Index can be defined as a measurement of the state of democracy in a particular country. The computation and analysis are based on distinct factors that are extremely important for a democracy that goes by the principle of: for the people, of the people and by the people.
The five parameters that determine and constitute the democracy index are electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of government, political participation, democratic political culture and civil liberties.
As per the index structure for 2019, any country receiving a score below four falls under the "authoritarian regime category"--a country with a score between four to six is placed in the "hybrid regime" segment, a score of six to eight belongs to the "flawed democracy" section while any country with a score beyond eight on 10 is labelled as a "full democracy".
India is placed at the 51st rank out of the 165 nations and two democracies in the Democracy Index 2019. This is a clear drop of 10 spots and is alarming indeed. "Democratic regression (in) erosion of civil liberties" has been cited as the major reason by The Economist in awarding a score of 6.9 on 10, which is the lowest since the index was first published in 2006.
India received a score of 7.23 and 7.81 in 2017 and 2016, respectively. The highest score ever was recorded at 7.91 - in 2014.
The list is topped by Norway, with Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand and Finland rounding out the top five and North Korea in last place. Pakistan is ranked 108 with a score of 4.25 and China received 2.26 for a ranking of 153.
The Economist has identified three main reasons behind India's crucial fall of 10 places.
In its observations, The Economist report referred to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The state was hit by a security lockdown right after the removal of Article 370. The panic was evident soon after Section 144 was imposed in Kashmir and all communication channels were cut off; there was no internet, no landline, no mobile network and no radio/television for months.
Even the Apex court of India reprimanded the centre over blocking the internet, suggesting that it is fundamental to the right to freedom of speech. Clearly, none of this worked well for India to be one of the proud democracies in the world.
The report suggests: "The primary cause of the democratic regression was an erosion of civil liberties in the country. The passage by Parliament in December of the discriminatory Citizenship (Amendment) Act suggests India's decline will continue in the 2020 index."
The Economist has stressed on how the widespread protests against the citizenship law, or CAA and the violence associated, is the first time in the country where religion is being made a test of citizenship. The report says, "The new citizenship law has enraged the large Muslim population, stoked communal tensions and generated large protests in major cities."
The third most crucial point raised by The Economist in its report is the controversial National Register of Citizens of the NRC, which was carried out in Assam last year. Remember, the NRC excluded about 19 lakh people, making citizenship again a primary concern and question in the democracy.
People from across different spectrums have voiced their concerns on social media. Here are some tweets that explain how India has reacted to the Democracy Index 2019.
According to @TheEIU India has slipped 10 places in its Democracy Index to rank 51 as a result of the revocation of #Article370 and the NRC conducted in Assam. It suggests that India’s decline will continue in the 2020 index due to the passage of #CAA. https://t.co/2WoT2juq0J— Rahul Bhatia (@RahulBhatia_11) January 23, 2020
Well, we can only hope for a better Democracy Index 2020.
Featured Image: Twitter
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