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The Democratic Status of India under Scanner


The V-Dem Institute, based in Gothenburg, released its 2024 Democracy Report, asserting that India’s status had declined from an “electoral autocracy” in 2018 to “one of the worst autocracies.” The report noted a deterioration in nearly all democratic elements in more countries than those showing improvement, specifically highlighting freedom of expression, fair elections, and freedom of association/civil society as the most affected areas.



  • Issues Arising out of Design and Implementation of Policies
  • Issues Relating to Development
  • Indian Constitution

Mains Question:

The latest report from the V-Dem Institute categorises India as one of the ‘worst autocracies’ globally. In this context, analyse the findings of other similar reports on democracy. What has been the response to these reports and how justified are those responses? (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Response to the Report:

  • Critics argue that this global index, based on arbitrary methods, warrants India’s attention. They advocate for the decolonization of democracy indices, urging the formulation of a domestic index to reflect global standards more accurately.
  • However, India’s reaction to the report has been one of skepticism and rejection. The perceived bias in the assessment methodology and the nonchalant attitude of global index authorities have led to India’s declining global standing.
  • The Indian Government publicly rebuked the global democracy index, asserting that it does not require external judgment. India has accused critics of hypocrisy, labeling them as self-appointed global watchdogs who struggle with India’s independence from their approval.

Democracy Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU):

  • On a related note, the Democracy Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) offers an overview of democracy across 165 independent countries and two territories, covering a significant portion of the global population and states.
  • Rated on a scale of 0-10, this index evaluates countries based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, government functioning, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties.
  • Civil liberties encompass various aspects such as freedom of expression, freedom of speech, internet restrictions, independence of the judiciary, and citizens’ ability to address grievances.
  • Factors like perceptions of human rights, religious discrimination, and government responses to new risks also influence civil liberties assessments.
  • Since 2017, India’s civil liberties scores have experienced a consistent decline. Starting at 7.35 in 2017 and 2018, the score decreased to 6.76 in 2019 and hit a low of 5.59 in 2020.
  • In 2021 and 2022, India’s civil liberties score stood at 6.18, further dropping to 5.88 by 2023, aligning with the scores of countries like Ghana, Thailand, Ecuador, and Guatemala, all of which have lower Democracy Index scores than India.
  • During this period, while civil liberties scores of developed countries remained unchanged, India’s decline led it to fall below them in this parameter. Consequently, declining civil liberties have impacted India’s democracy scores.
  • In response to international downgrades, the Indian Government decided to establish its own framework for democracy ratings. It collaborated with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a prominent Indian think tank, for this purpose.

World Press Freedom Index:

  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF) annually publishes the World Press Freedom Index, aiming to assess media freedom levels in 180 countries and territories compared to the previous year.
  • The latest RSF report reveals India’s ranking in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index plummeted to 161st out of 180 countries.

Significance of Research Methodology:

  • The significance of methodology in any study cannot be overstated. Research methodology delineates how the researcher intends to conduct the research, providing a systematic, logical framework for addressing the research problem.
  •  It ensures that research is conducted systematically, rigorously, and objectively, thereby facilitating the acquisition of accurate and reliable results and enabling meaningful conclusions.
  • A well-defined research methodology lends credibility to the research and yields scientifically sound outcomes. Additionally, it includes a detailed plan to guide researchers, ensuring efficiency and manageability throughout the research process.
  • The researcher’s methodology enables readers to comprehend the approach and methods employed in reaching conclusions.


As seen above, concerns have been raised regarding the methodology employed in the democracy index. Given the current situation where India faces criticism in the global democracy index, it becomes imperative for India to reconsider and decolonize the index.

May 2024