India No Longer an Electoral Democracy but Electoral Aristocracy Says Swedish Institute

India No More A Electoral Democracy but an Electoral Aristocracy Says Swedish Institute
India No More A Electoral Democracy but an Electoral Aristocracy Says Swedish Institute

The report by Varieties of Democracy Institute in its report classified India as autocratic as Pakistan in censorship and worse than Bangladesh and Nepal.

India, this year has been classified as an “electoral autocracy” alongside Hungary and Turkey in the annual report from Sweden-based V-Dem Institute because of “restrictions on multiple facets of democracy” such as civil society groups and free speech.

V-Dem Institute said India registered a 23-percentage point drop on its 0-to-1 Liberal Democracy Index (LDI) scale, marking “one of the most dramatic downfalls among all countries in the world over the past 10 years”.

Last year too, India was classified as highly uncertain. But according to the research organization, with more and better data this year, India is now classified with a higher degree of certainty as an “electoral autocracy” from 2019.

About V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy Institute)

The V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) Institute, an independent research organization founded in 2014 by Swedish political scientist Staffan Lindberg, produces its annual report on the state of democracy around the world based on its extensive research.

Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) produces the largest global dataset on democracy with almost 30 million data points for 202 countries from 1789 to 2020. Involving over 3,500 scholars and other country experts, V-Dem measures hundreds of different attributes of democracy.

V-Dem enables new ways to study the nature, causes, and consequences of democracy embracing its multiple meanings.

What does the report say about democracy in India

“The world’s largest democracy turned into an electoral autocracy — India with 1.37 billion citizens,” the report said. India was previously classified as an electoral democracy.

Varieties of Democracy Institute report
Source: Varieties of Democracy Institute

It said that after Narendra Modi became the prime minister, censorship efforts have become routine and are no longer related to only government matters.

The report pointed out that the Indian government before Modi rarely used censorship. “India is, in this aspect, now as autocratic as is Pakistan, and worse than both its neighbors Bangladesh and Nepal,” it said. “In general, the Modi-led government in India has used laws on sedition, defamation, and counterterrorism to silence critics.

For example, over 7,000 people have been charged with sedition after the BJP assumed power and most of the accused are critics of the ruling party.”

The report noted that the world is still more democratic than it was in the 1970s and 1980s, but the global decline in liberal democracy has been steep during the past 10 years and continues in 2020.

V-Dem Institute’s report has come just after the release of the annual report on global political rights and liberties by the US-based Freedom House, which also downgraded India’s status as a democracy and free society to “partly free”.

There has been no immediate response from Indian officials to the V-Dem Institute report.

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