India ‘One of the Worst Autocracies’: V-Dem Report on Democracy

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What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Why in the News?
  • About V-Dem
  • About Democracy Report
  • Key Findings of the Democracy Report 2024

Why in News?

V-Dem Institute has the ‘Democracy Report 2024’ that tracks democratic freedoms worldwide.

About V-Dem

  • The V-Dem Institute (Varieties of Democracy) was founded by Staffan Lindberg in 2014. Staffan Lindberg is a Swedish political scientist.
  • The V-Dem institute studies the qualities of government.
  • The headquarters of the project is based at the department of political science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • The V-Dem Institute publishes a number of high-profile datasets that describe qualities of different governments, annually published and publicly available for free.
  • These datasets are a popular dataset among political scientists, due to information on hundreds of indicator variables describing all aspects of government.

About Democracy Report

  • The V-Dem Institute publishes the Democracy Report that describes the state of democracy in the world, with a focus on democratization and autocratization.
  • The report classifies countries into four regime types based on their score in the Liberal Democratic Index (LDI):
    • Liberal Democracy, Electoral Democracy, Electoral Autocracy, and Closed Autocracy.
  • The LDI captures both liberal (individual and minority rights) and electoral aspects (free and fair elections) of a democracy.
    • It is based on 71 indicators that make up the Liberal Component Index (LCI) and the Electoral Democracy Index (EDI).
    • The LCI measures aspects such as protection of individual liberties and legislative constraints on the executive.
    • The EDI considers indicators that guarantee free and fair elections such as freedom of expression and freedom of association.
  • Apart from these, the LDI also uses:
    • Egalitarian Component Index (to what extent different social groups are equal),
    • Participatory Component Index (health of citizen groups, civil society organisations),
    • Deliberative Component Index (whether political decisions are taken through public reasoning focused on common good or through emotional appeals, solidarity attachments, coercion).
  • The Democracy Report is published annually in March.

Key Findings of the Democracy Report 2024

  • The Democracy Report 2024 is a collaborative project involving 4,200 scholars from 180 countries, and is based on 31 million datasets that cover 202 countries from 1789 to 2023.
  • Overall Findings:
    • In 2023, 42 countries (home to 35% of the world’s population) were undergoing autocratization.
    • 71% of the world’s population — 5.7 billion people — live in autocracies, an increase from 48% ten years ago.
    • The level of democracy enjoyed by the “average person in the world is down to 1985-levels”, the report said.
    • The sharpest decline occurring in Eastern Europe, and South and Central Asia.
    • The report singled out freedom of expression, clean elections, and freedom of association/civil society as the three worst affected components of democracy in autocratising countries.
    • In a separate section on the 60 countries that go to the polls in 2024, the report observed that more than half of these (31) were in periods of democratic decline.
  • W.r.t. India:
    • India, which was downgraded to the status of an electoral autocracy in 2018, has declined even further on multiple metrics to emerge as “one of the worst autocratizers”.
    • As per the report, level of liberal democracy enjoyed by the average Indian now “down to levels last seen in 1975….when Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency in India”.
      • As per the V-Dem classification, a liberal democracy is one where, in addition to the requirements of electoral democracy such as regular free and fair elections, mechanisms for judicial independence and constraints on executive overreach are robust, alongside rigorous protection of civil liberties and equality before law.
    • In an electoral autocracy — the category India falls into — multiparty elections coexist with insufficient levels of basic requisites such as freedom of expression and free and fair elections.

Q1) What is the difference between a monarchy and a dictator?

In a dictatorship, a ruler or small group with absolute power over the people holds power, often through force. Monarchy is a government in which authority over the people is retained through a trade of allegiance. All parts to this government unit can stand alone and can be taught as individual lessons. 

Q2) What do you mean by Freedom of Speech and Expression?

The heart of the Article 19 says: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Source: India ‘one of the worst autocratisers’: V-Dem report on democracy