Cracks in democracy: India drops 10 spots in Democracy Index


NEW DELHI | JAN 23, 2020:

Citing erosion of civil liberties in the country, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) put India 10 ranks lower at the 51st place out of 167 countries in its Democracy Index's global ranking released on Wednesday.

India's overall score fell from 7.23 in 2018 to 6.90 in 2019 while the average global score fell from 5.48 in 2018 to 5.44 (on a 0-10 scale). The EIU termed the results as "the worst result since the Democracy Index began in 2006".

The ranking report was most critical of the Indian government's move to deploy large numbers of security personnel in J&K and placing local leaders under house arrest before it "stripped the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state of its special status by repealing two key constitutional provisions granting it powers of autonomy".

"Meanwhile, a separate citizenship registration exercise in Assam, a state in north-eastern India, has excluded 1.9m from the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The vast majority of people excluded from the NRC are Muslims," the report said.

"The new citizenship law has enraged the large Muslim population, stoked communal tensions and generated large protests in major cities," the EIU added.

The NDA Central government has been battling hard with the consecutive protests in major parts of the country, including the national capital itself. The series of protests started with students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University hitting the streets demanding withdrawal of proposed hike in hostel charges.

The stream of protest soon turned into a massive as the students also started raising voices against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

The situation, however, turned ugly after an alleged police crackdown over violent protesters inside the Jamia Millia Islamia campus. Since then a large crowd of thousands have been protesting against the CAA and police crackdown at Shaheen Bagh and the Jamia.

Meanwhile, China's score fell to 2.26, to the 153rd place, "as discrimination against minorities, especially in the north-western region of Xinjiang, intensified and digital surveillance of the population continued apace".

Protest-hit Hong Kong slipped a further three places in 2019, from 73rd to joint 75th with Singapore out of 167 countries owing to a "wave of often violent protests that grew from mid-2019 is largely a manifestation of pre-existing deficiencies in Hong Kong's democratic environment".