V-Dem an independent research institute based at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has published a report – Democracy Report 2022 Autocratization Changing Nature? – where it stated that India is among the top ten most autocratic countries.
The report says India no longer runs as a fully functioning democratic country but works as an electoral autocracy. With no place for independent media, protests by civil society and the opposition in the society, India’s democratic status has slipped from the top of 50% to the bottom of 50%, the V-Dem report says.
Being one of the most populous countries in the world, autocratisation has increased in India ever since the Narendra Modi-led government came to power.
“Narendra Modi led the Bharatiya Janata Party to victory in India’s 2014 elections and most of the decline occurred following their promotion of a Hindu-nationalist agenda. India’s level of liberal democracy registered at 0.34 by the end of 2020 after a steep decline since its high at 0.57 in 2013. That represents a 23-percentage point drop on the 0 to 1 LDI (Liberal Democracy Index) scale, making it one of the most dramatic shifts among all countries in the world over the past 10 years,” the report pointed out.
The autocratising countries tend to be global leaders. Closed autocracies are on the rise. In 2021, the “third wave” of autocratisation has developed more than the other years, says the report. The group includes major G20 countries such as India, Brazil, Turkey and the United States of America, Bangladesh, Thailand, Tanzania, and the Philippines.
“Anti-pluralist parties are driving the autocratisation in at least six of the top autocratizers: Brazil, Hungary, India, Poland, Serbia, and Turkey,” the report notes.
Polarization also affects countries of all regime types, established democracies, and autocratising countries alike. There was also rising polarization in autocratising countries like Brazil, India, and Serbia, the report added.
Two states with low levels of democracy are more likely to engage in armed conflict than high levels. “Anti-pluralist parties and their leaders lack a commitment to the democratic process, disrespect fundamental minority rights, encourage demonization of political opponents, and accept political violence. These ruling parties tend to be nationalist-reactionary and have used government power to push forward autocratic agendas,” said the report.
Electoral autocracy remains the most common regime type and harbors 44% of the world’s population, or 3.4 billion people, says the report.