India is no more recognized as a democracy by the world these days
India has always been considered as one of the largest democracies in the World globally but of late things have changed, with reports from international research Organisations declaring that India is only ‘partly free’ in its freedom rankings and that the country has now turned into an ‘electoral autocracy’. The alluded to reports here refer to the United State Government’s sponsored non-governmental organisation’s yearly World Freedom Rankings report and another report by research institute, Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem).
These reports are based on research and analysis of the data available. The findings are significant, showing the image of India internationally. The reports observe that ever since 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party formed the Government, there was initiated a process where freedom of the media, academia, civil society declined.
This trend of an Autocratic style of Governance in India is very prominent since 2019
All these observations have been based on various episodes in India where the Government has been severe with journalists, students, activists for being critical or dissenting peacefully against Government policies. Harassment of such populations is common by booking them on sedition and defamation charges. Government statergized attacks and violence on this section of population also were taken into account while making the report.
Even Civil Society Organisations are harassed, making it difficult for them to exist and function in the country. Political opponents have been undemocratically imprisoned using the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA Act).
There is a pattern to this process of the Government turning autocratic disrespecting the accepted democratic values
Interestingly, there is a pattern to this phenomenon of India’s decline of democracy to autocracy.
The pattern is typical of countries that have slipped into such dictatorial regimes in the past. First Government catches hold of the media to control them, restraining their freedom, then academia and civil society who oppose Government policy are silenced and harshly acted upon.
Political opponents are weakened, removed or silenced and a polarisation is created where the ruling Government is powerful spreading its propaganda through its machinery like GOvernment controlled media spreading disinformation. There is a distinct uncomfortable ideological tinge of the Government that shows it’s dangerous, ugly face as in this case of India of the current times, it’s the ideology of Hindutva that threatens the value of secularism.
Slowly, the Government will get that tenacity to attack the core of democracy, which is other pillars of democracy like Parliament, judiciary etc.
According to V-Dem’s report, India is already feeling the pinch of the Third wave of this electoral autocracy storm that’s knocking down Indian Democracy. Right.
The stable Government advantage for India may diminish if people are dissatisfied
Well, better late than never. I had no idea myself of all this decline of democracy and rise of authoritarianism until 2018. In 2019, I saw a lot of evidence of it with attacks on University students in Delhi, attacks on peacefully protesting women against CAA act in Delhi, and imposition of some sort of lockdown in Jammu Kashmir after repealing an Act that gave Jammu and Kashmir(special status) or limited autonomy. The Political leaders of the State were jailed, internet connections were disconnected and people were forced to stay indoors in uncertainty. This continued for months , destroying the lives and peace of people.
Even that time, most of us were busy arguing on these affairs not seeing that this is actually a ploy of the Government to get autocratic and now it’s becoming too late. Atleast, a stable Government ensured there won’t be chaos in general, but now there is chaos with protests on so many of the Government policies in the country- from farmers, students, muslim women, bankers that it shows that people are very disillusioned with the Government and there is definite hostility by the Government towards the democratically protesting peaceful population.
Democracy has failed because majority of the people are silent not active in questioning the Government
Still a majority of us, middle class Indians are not dissenting and are keeping quiet and perhaps that’s the reason why democracy is failing, it’s because this major class of people are not organising and getting together to question the Government, holding them accountable, we live in fear ...well anyway.
The prevailing socio-political- economic scenario in India is not conductive for flowering of a progressive Nation
Perhaps, with India’s socio-economic plight being so sick now, I expect we will have more chaos, uncertainty, I hope it does not come to that because this will lead to deterioration of the country in every front - economic, social etc, it’s not atall a healthy environment for progress and development.