Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Centre planning its own democracy index amid global rankings downgrade

NEW DELHI, MARCH 22: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government has approached a major Indian think tank to develop its own democracy ratings index that could help it counter recent downgrades in rankings issued by international groups that New Delhi fears could affect the country’s credit rating, Al Jazeera reported on Thursday.
On June 2023, The Guardian reported that the Indian Government has been secretly working to keep its reputation as the “world’s largest democracy” alive after being called out by researchers for serious democratic backsliding under the nationalist rule of the Narendra Modi Government, according to internal reports seen by The Guardian.
Despite publicly dismissing several global rankings that suggest the country is on a dangerous downward trajectory, officials of Government Ministries have been quietly assigned to monitor India’s performance, minutes from meetings show, The Guardian said.
Al Jazeera revealed that the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), which works closely with the Indian Government on multiple initiatives, is preparing the ratings framework.
The new rankings system could be released soon, an official was quoted as saying.
“A review meeting was held by NITI Aayog in January, and it was decided that ORF will be releasing Democracy Rankings in a few weeks”, a top Government official said, requesting anonymity, Al Jazeera added.
Global human rights NGO Amnesty International has continued to highlight the erosion of civil rights and religious freedom under the Narendra Modi regime.
Amnesty in its India 2022 report noted that arbitrary arrests, prolonged detentions, unlawful attacks and killings, internet shutdowns and intimidation using digital technologies, including unlawful surveillance as major concerns faced by minority groups, human rights defenders, dissenters and critics of the Union Government.
Similarly, Human Rights Watch has also continued to highlight the crackdown on civil society and media under the Modi Government citing persecution of activists, journalists, protesters and critics on fabricated counterterrorism and hate speech laws. The vilification of Muslims and other minorities by some BJP leaders and police inaction against Government supporters who commit violence are also among HRW’s concerns in India.
Notably, the ‘Democracy Index’, prepared by The Economist Group’s Economist Intelligence Unit, had downgraded India to a “flawed democracy” in its 2022 report due to the serious backsliding of democratic freedom under the Modi Government.
Similarly, the US-based non-profit organization Freedom House had lowered India’s standing from a free democracy to a “partly free” democracy in its global freedom and internet freedom ratings, while V-Dem Institute, a Sweden-based independent research institute, had classified India as an “electoral autocracy”, as part of its 2022 Democracy report.
(Courtesy: TNIE)