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‘India among the ‘worst autocratisers’ in the last 10 years’

Srinagar: India is one of the worst autocratisers in the last 10 years in a blurb on page 10 and places India in the bottom 40-50% on its Liberal Democracy Index at rank 97. The V-Dem report lists 42 countries as “autocratising” at the end of 2022.

According to Kashmir Media Service, India is not an exception to this trend but it also ranks 108 on the Electoral Democracy Index and 123 on the Egalitarian Component Index. In 2021, V-Dem classified India as an ‘electoral autocracy’. Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in 2021 classified India as a backsliding democracy and a ‘major decliner’ in its Global State of Democracy (GSoD) report.

India has significantly less academic freedom now than 10 years ago and is among 22 countries and territories out of 179 in the world, where institutions and scholars enjoy ‘significantly less freedom today than 10 years ago.’

In the Academic Freedom Index published in 2022, India had received a score of 0.38 in a table of 0 to 1, where 1 is the highest academic freedom. The country was in the bottom 20-30% bracket. India was behind immediate neighbours Nepal (0.86), Pakistan (0.45) and Bhutan (0.46) and before Bangladesh (0.25) and junta-ruled Myanmar (0.01).

India’s decline in academic freedom started from a comparatively high level during India’s democratic period,’ it is now associated with ‘rapidly accelerating autocratisation’. India, along with Afghanistan & Myanmar, is identified as a country where political events have severely reversed promising developments in the academic sector. In India, academic freedom started to decline in 2009 with a drop in university autonomy followed by a sharp downturn in all indicators from 2013.

In 2013, academic freedom began to decline & got faster with Narendra Modi’s election as PM in 2014. Campus integrity, institutional autonomy, and freedom of academic & cultural expression declined more strongly over following years than freedom to reach & teach and freedom of academic exchange and dissemination.

Undermining of institutional autonomy aligns with research that argues that centralisation, bureaucratisation, and politicisation has historically produced weak university autonomy in India. There are no laws that particularly protect academic freedom, leading to their increased vulnerability under Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.

Religious Freedom Indicator
Global State of Democracy (GSoD) report also listed India alongside Sri Lanka and Indonesia for the lowest score on the religious freedom indicator since 1975

Score of Representative Govt Downed
GSoD report revealed that between 1975 and 1995 India’s representative government score moved from .59 to .69. In 2015 it was .72. In 2020 it stood at .61, i.e, closer to the score India had in 1975 when it was under Indira Gandhi’s Emergency.

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