MEA ‘Mulls’ Democracy Report, Freedom Index by Indian Think Tank

This comes after reports by two international organisations downgraded India’s democracy ratings. 

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Image of MEA S Jaishankar used for representation.
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The Ministry of External Affairs is mulling releasing a new ‘world democracy report’ and ‘global press freedom index’, compiled by an independent Indian think tank, reported Hindustan Times.

The MEA is yet to confirm whether a new report will be released.

Discussions for this began late last year after ex chairman of Prasar Bharti Surya Prakash wrote a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office suggesting eight parameters of a democracy, which he claimed India fulfilled, being the world’s largest democracy, noted HT’s report.

Prakash’s letter suggested that India must counter reports such as V-Dem’s claims by defining its own parameters on democracy. His letter was sent months after V-Dem’s 2020 report emerged, suggesting India is close to losing its status as a democracy. 

The PMO forwarded the letter to MEA, which is working on ways to implement Prakash’s suggestions, reported HT.

What the Reports Said

An analysis by the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute headquartered in Sweden has observed that India has gone from being an electoral democracy to an ‘electoral autocracy’.

The 2021 report, which carries a data-based analysis measuring the erosion of democracy, has listed India as a ‘major autocratiser’ in its summary. Last year, the V-Dem report had said that India was on the verge of losing its status as a democracy.

Another annual report on global political rights and liberties called ‘Democracy Under Siege’ by US-based human rights watchdog Freedom House said that India is now only a “partly free country”.

Asserting that there has been a deterioration in political rights and civil liberties in India since PM Modi’s tenure began, the report noted that there has bee “increased pressure on human rights organisations, rising intimidation of academics and journalists, and a spate of bigoted attacks, including lynchings, aimed at Muslims”.

The decline has only increased with PM Modi’s re-election in 2019, the report further stated.

EAM’s Response

Asked about India’s shift from a democracy to an ‘electoral autocracy’ as illustrated in the V-Dem report, the EAM had said earlier:

“You use the dichotomy of democracy and autocracy. You want the truthful answer? It is hypocrisy. You have a set of self-appointed custodians of the world who find it very difficult to stomach that somebody in India is not looking for their approval, or play the game they want it to. So they invent their rules, their parameters, pass their judgments and then make it seem as though this is some kind of global exercise.”

(With inputs from Hindustan Times)

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