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Approach:

  1. Intro – declining global democracy.
  2. Mention the reason of ‘surveillance capitalism’ and its consequences.
  3. Perceived dangers to Indian democracy; also mention two other factors for declining Indian democracy.
  4. Conclusion.

During the last one-and-half decade, there has been a growing global concern about the quality of democracies in countries running democratic governments. Post 2005, there has been a worrying decline in global freedom flagged by the most prominent global democratic surveys. There have been major setbacks in political rights & civil liberties in many countries – the hallmark of democratic ethos. More alarmingly, the robust democracies were shaken by an undercurrent of populist political forces challenging established fundamentals of democratic governance.

Reasons & fallouts: the most significant causes for ‘democratic recession’ is ‘surveillance capitalism’. This denotes that capitalist giants, mostly communication giants, are controlling every aspect of human information and living in most parts of the world. Yet, they remain substantially beyond any accountability to the legal systems of the nations. It is evident that a surveillance society is quite detrimental to the advancement of democratic values. In many parts, the internet and social media have played sinister role in fueling fires of divisiveness, unfortunately breaking down the idea of inclusive citizenship. Also, the current global institutions like UN, mandated to uphold the global democratic order, are found seriously deficient. This has encouraged dictatorial regimes. There has been growing inequality in democracies, inefficient decision making and rising disenchantment among the youths.

Dangers to Indian democracy: many of the dangers faced by global democracies too bedevil the Indian democracy. India’s recent run-ins with global communication organizations can be a case in point. In the face of challenges, India’s laws need serous overhaul & tightening. Without doubt, there is a need for greater responsibility towards the use of social media. The variety of India’s social issues are unmatched, which are perturbed by disjointed forces on the social media. If they are left unattended for long, they can severely undermine a free democratic culture.

Other factors:  The unsavory developments internal to India is worrisome for its democracy. Firstly, Criminalization of politics – nearly 50% MPs in current LS have criminal records, which marks a 44% increase in criminal MPs since 2009. The situation in many state assemblies is not better. Criminalization has cut off people from meaningful engagement with their representatives adding more disillusionment to democracy, hitting the core of good governance. The situation gets aided by slow judicial process and weak legislation surrounding conviction & debarring public servants from elections. Secondly, the increasing disinterest of elected representatives to perform the primary function of quality participation in Parliament & State Assemblies. Unfortunately, the state assemblies have recorded an average 30 sittings annually over the last decade, while the Lok Sabha had 63 sittings per year in the last decade – pointing to the dismal quality of legislative deliverance.

All these indicate a decline of Indian democracy. Along with some of the global concerns raised, India needs to work on its internal weaknesses to protect the quality of its democracy.

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