India ranked at 42nd on the Democracy Index and it’s affected down from 32nd place last year. And has been classified as “flawed democracy.”


About the Democracy Index:

  • It is the index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that is the analysis and analysis division of the economist.
  • EIU was founded in 1946.
  • EIU provides prediction and consultative services through research and analysis, corresponding to monthly country reports, country risk service reports, five-year country economic forecasts, and trade reports etc.
  • The report enclosed 167 countries which scored on a scale of zero to ten based on 60 indicators.

The Democracy Index is calculated on the following five categories:

  • Electoral process and pluralism.
  • The functioning of government
  • Civil liberties.
  • Political participation; and
  • Political culture.

Based on their scores on 60 indicators within the above five classes, every country is then classified as one of 4 kinds of following regimes:

  1. Full democracy
  2. Flawed democracy
  3. Hybrid regime
  4. Authoritarian regime


What was in the Democracy Index 2017 report, released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (IEU) Report?

It is the worst performance since 2010-’11 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

  • Norway has topped the list, with a score of 9.87.
  • Norway got perfect-ten scores for political participation, electoral method and pluralism; and political culture. Norway was followed by Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark.
  • China (139th), Myanmar (120th), Russia (135th) and Vietnam (140th) embrace those named as ‘authoritarian regimes’.
  • Syria was ranked at 166th place whereas North Korea ranked at 167th, the lowest.
  • ‘Flawed democracies’- USA (ranked at 21st), Japan, Italy, Israel, Singapore, France, and Hong Kong.
  • Full democracies- top nineteen countries in the index have been classified as full democracies.
  • Hybrid regimes- Bangladesh (92nd), Nepal (94th) and Bhutan (99th), Pakistan (110th).


Democracy and the World

  • Only 4.5% population reside during a “full democracy”, down from 8.9% in 2015 because the USA got demoted from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy” in 2016 although nearly one-half (49.3%) of the world’s population lives in a democracy of some kind.
  • With an outsized share being in China, around one-third of the world’s population lives under authoritarian rule.


India and the Democracy Index

  • Even though India scored well on electoral method and pluralism (9.17), India’s overall score has fallen to 7.23 points as India has not managed to get so well on different four parameters—political culture, the functioning of government, political participation and civil liberties.
  • Increase in law enforcement, Rise of conservative religious ideologies and violence against minorities as well as different dissenting voices affected India’s ranking.
  • State of media freedom around the world was also measured during this year’s report. The report noted that in India, journalists are in danger from government, military and non-state actors and radical teams, additionally, media is just ‘partially free’.


Causes of Concern / Challenges to Democracy

  • The worst decline in international democracy in years has been recorded by the most recent Democracy Index records as not a single region has registered an improvement in its average score since the year 2016, the reason being the countries struggled with more and more divided electorates.
  • Freedom of expression is facing new challenges from state and non-state actors.
  • In the 2017 Democracy Index, the average international score on a scale of zero to ten fell from 5.52 in 2016 to 5.48 and compared with 2016, 89 countries experienced a decline in their total score, 27 recorded an improvement whereas the remaining 51 countries didn’t see any modification in their scores compared with 2016.
Study Material for UPSC IAS Prelims and Mains