Telling Numbers: In Economist’s Democracy Index, India at its lowest ranking ever

In 2019, the average global score fell from 5.48 in 2018 to 5.44, the worst result since 2006.

India slipped 10 places to 51st position in the latest Democracy Index global rankings published by The Economist Intelligence Unit. Its score, down from from 7.23 in 2018 to 6.90 in 2019, is its lowest ever since the Democracy Index was begun in 2006, the report shows. The report ranks 165 independent states and two territories, covering almost the entire population of the world.

“The primary cause of the democratic regression was an erosion of civil liberties in the country,” the report said. It mentioned the stripping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status with the repeal of Articles 370 and 35A, the various security measures that followed the bifurcation of the state including restriction of Internet access, and the exclusion of 1.9 million people from the final NRC (National Register of Citizens) in Assam.

“Civil liberties” is one of five categories on which the Democracy Index is based. The other four are electoral process and pluralism; functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. On a scale of 0 to 10, India’s scores were 8.67 in electoral process and pluralism, 6.79 in functioning of government; 6.67 in political participation; 5.63 in political culture; and 6.76 in civil liberties.

Based on the total score, countries are classified as “full democracy” (scores greater than 8); “flawed democracy” (greater than 6 and up to 8); “hybrid regime” (greater than 4 and up to 6); or “authoritarian regime” (less than or equal to 4). By that yardstick, India’s score of 7.23 places it in the “flawed democracy” category, which also includes Bangladesh (5.88). Pakistan, with a score of 4.25, is categorised as a “hybrid democracy”; China (2.26) and North Korea (bottom-ranked with 1.08) are categorised as “authoritarian regimes”; and Norway (top-ranked with 9.87) is counted as a “full democracy”.

Following Norway at the top of the rankings are Iceland (9.58), Sweden (9.39) and New Zealand (9.26). Other “full democracies” include Germany, the United Kingdom and France. The United States, with a score of 7.96 that is just below the benchmark for a “full democracy”, is a “flawed democracy”, in the same category as India.

In 2019, the average global score fell from 5.48 in 2018 to 5.44, the worst result since 2006.

Don't miss from Explained: How new tech is raising the bar for lab-grown and vegetarian meats