Context: Recently a report published by V-Dem labelled India as electoral autocracy.
India Is No Longer a Democracy but an 'Electoral Autocracy' Critically Examine.
About the Report:
● Report Released by: V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) Institute. It is an independent research organization founded in 2014 by Swedish political scientist Staffan Lindberg.
● Objective: The report summarizes the state of democracies of the world against the backdrop of developments, over the past decade.
Major Findings Related to India:
● India is rated as autocratic along with Pakistan. It is a poor rating than both its neighbors Bangladesh and Nepal.
● India is also among 25 “autocratizing nations” along with Brazil, Turkey, and other countries.
Reasons for the downgrading of India:
● Measure taken to silent the Journalist:- Frequent use of defamation(Section 499) and Sedition(Section 124-A) to silence journalists and critics.
● UAPA:-Use of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act(UAPA) to place constraints on civil society.
● Citizenship on the basis of Religion through CAA:- The passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 to grant citizenship based on religious lines.
● FCRA Amendment:-Increased use of Foreign Contributions Regulation Act(FCRA) to restrict the entry, exit, and functioning of Civil Society Organisations(CSO).
● Rising intimidation of academics and journalists, and a spate of bigoted attacks, including lynchings, aimed at Muslims.
● In general, the report mentions National Security laws are getting misused in India.
● The liberal democracies have reduced over the past decade from 41 countries to 32 countries.
● The global decline during the past decade is increasing especially in the Asia-Pacific region, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
India should be worried due to following Reasons:-
● This report comes within a week of US watchdog Freedom House downgrading India’s status to “partly free” in its ‘Freedom in the World’ report.
● In March last year, Reports Without Borders (RSF) placed India alongside China, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia in a list of press freedom’s “worst digital predators”.
● The US government’s Religious Freedom Monitor recommended that the country’s state department should include India in the list of “countries of special concern”.
● Again in April, India was ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s Press Freedom Index, sliding two ranks down.
● The country also fell 26 places to rank 105th among 162 countries and territories on a global economic freedom index released by the Fraser Institute in Canada in September 2020.
● Finally in December 2020, India was ranked 111th out of 162 countries in the Cato Institute’s Human Freedom Index 2020.
India’s slide in these reports only mirrors its decline in indices compiled by independent bodies which monitor democratic freedoms over the past few years.