The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2017 Democracy Index report, which was released on Tuesday, shows that democracy is in decline across the world. It is the worst performance since 2010-’11 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
The Economist Intelligence Unit, which is the research and analysis division of the Economist Group, said that the total score of 89 countries fell when compared to their ranking in 2016. India was one of the countries whose score declined the most. It fell ten places in the rankings from 32 to 42 as its score deteriorated by 0.58 points to 7.23 (on a scale of 0 to 10).
It was a bad year for Asian nations as the continent recorded the biggest decline compared to other regions of the world. According to the index, Asia (5.63) lagged behind North America (8.56), Western Europe (8.38) and Latin America (6.26). Indonesia was the worst-performing nation, falling to 68th position from 48th rank.
“The rise of conservative religious ideologies also affected India,” the authors of the report noted. “The strengthening of right-wing Hindu forces in an otherwise secular country led to a rise of vigilantism and violence against minority communities, particularly Muslims, as well as other dissenting voices.”
In the ‘media freedom ranking’, India ranked 49 out of 167 countries that the index covered. “India has also become a more dangerous place for journalists, especially the central state of Chhattisgarh and the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the Economist Intelligence Unit said.
“The authorities there have restricted freedom of the press, closed down several newspapers and heavily controlled mobile internet services. Several journalists were murdered in India in 2017, as in the previous year.”
A Human Rights Watch report published on January 22 had also alleged that Indian failed to protect its minorities in 2017. Women, Dalits and religious minority communities lived under threat in 2017 as violence perpetrated by vigilante groups that claimed to be supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party continued unabated, the report had said.