Slide in democratic values, India must work to fix it


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: V-Dem rating

Mains level: Paper 2- Declining democratic values


India has performed poorly in every major global democracy report in the past few years.

India’s declining performance

  • The Freedom House Index for 2021 pushed India down four points from last year, bringing its score from 71 to 67.
  • 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) study has shown India’s ranking has taken a nosedive from 27 to 53 out of 167 countries.
  • The Reporters without Borders’ Press Freedom Report has placed India 167th out of 183 countries.
  • Freedom House has also given India a score of 2 out of 4 in terms of press freedom.

Factors pointed out by the rating agencies

  • 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.
  • The most worrying trend has been the crackdown on freedom of speech, with statistics showing a 165 per cent increase in sedition cases between 2016 and 2019.

Issues with rejecting of global democratic indexes

  • Indian government sought to challenge the rating of EIU after it released its 2021 report earlier this year.
  • An offer made by the Indian government to supply ‘accurate’ data pertaining to the democratic index was firmly refused by the EIU.
  • Shooting the messenger: This seeming retraction of Indian democratic values in global reports and the Indian indignation regarding it seems to be a clear case of shooting the messenger.
  • Harming democracy: The Indian refusal to acknowledge and remedy them is irreparably harming its democracy.
  • Trying to influence the rating agencies to doctor data to suit us is reprehensible.
  • Difficulty for policymakers: Kaushik Basu, formerly the chief economist of the World Bank, commenting on this episode has said that the tendency of fabricating data to present an alternative image has beset the Indian administration.
  • Not showcasing actual data is making it difficult for policymakers to attempt to remedy the situation.

Way forward

  •  A committee of secretaries’ meeting on January 30, 2020 discussed how India fared on various important parameters based on 32 internationally recognised indices in order to improve the performance on these indices.
  • The desire to introspect and analyse what needs to be done to improve is correct and laudable.
  •  Let NITI Aayog and all concerned organisations focus on improving our performance in all the declining indicators.

Consider the question “Ranking of the various agencies shows the declining trend of democratic values in India. What are the reasons for such decline?vSuggest the steps to arrest this decline.” 


Instead of denying these rankings and the reports of these agencies, India must work on fixing them.

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