The index remains unchanged for Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan, whereas the LDI has increased in Sri Lanka
Bangladesh is in a stronger position than India in terms of democracy, a recently published report from Sweden has revealed.
The fifth annual democracy report - “Autocratisation goes viral” - by Sweden’s V-Dem Institute claims to produce the largest dataset on democracy with almost 30 million data points for 202 countries from 1789 to 2020.
Bangladesh’s Liberal Democracy Index (LDI) score was at an all-time high at 0.18 (on a scale of 0-1) in 2010, it had declined to 0.09 by the end of 2020 — a loss of 9 percentage points in 10 years.
This report comes within a week of US watchdog Freedom House deemed Bangladesh as a “Partly Free” nation.
The report by the organization summarizes the state of democracies of the world against the backdrop of developments that have taken place over the past decade.
The report finds that liberal democracies have diminished over the past decade from 41 countries to 32 countries.
With the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, V-Dem Institute started the Pandemic Backsliding project (PanDem) to track state responses to Covid-19 and their potential effects on democracy in 144 countries until December 2020.
The project measured few types of violations like - discrimination against minorities, violations of fundamental rights, excessive use of force and restrictions on media freedoms.
According to the report, in South Asia, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka register major violation of international norms during Covid-19 emergency measures. Bangladesh and Pakistan moderately violate international norms.
In the last 10 years, the LDI has declined substantially and significantly in India, which is worse than Bangladesh. The index remains unchanged for Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan, whereas the LDI has increased in Sri Lanka.
India lost its status as an electoral democracy in this report and its LDI declines from 0.57 in 2010 to 0.34 in 2020, which is the most dramatic drop among its neighbours, following the Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi placing restrictions on multiple facets of democracy such as civil society and free speech.
In Freedom of Expression Index, Bangladesh has experienced 15% decrease in the last 10 years whereas India has experienced 31% decrease, Nepal has experienced a 10% decrease, Bhutan 2% decrease. Only Sri Lanka has experienced a 20% increase in the last 10 years.
In the Civil Liberty Index, Bangladesh has experienced a 12% fall, India 12% fall, Pakistan 13% fall, Nepal 10% fall. In contrast, Sri Lanka has seen a 12% increase and Bhutan 1% increase.
In the Electoral Democracy Index, Bangladesh has experienced a 12% fall, India 25% fall, Pakistan 9% fall. Both Nepal (2%) and Sri Lanka saw an increase.
The report has downgraded India from “the world’s largest democracy” to an “electoral autocracy,” citing muzzling of the media, and overuse of defamation and sedition laws.
“India is, in this aspect (censorship) now as autocratic as is Pakistan, and worse than both its neighbours Bangladesh and Nepal. In general, the Modi-led government in India has used laws on sedition, defamation, and counter terrorism to silence critics. For example, over 7,000 people have been charged with sedition after the BJP assumed power and most of the accused are critics of the ruling party,” the report says.
It adds that what it calls “electoral autocracies” remain the most popular regime type, and along with closed autocracies, number 87 states, home to 68% of the world’s population.
It also notes an accelerating wave of autocratisation engulfing 25 nations, home to one-third of the world’s population — that is 2.6 billion people.
“Several G20 nations such as Brazil, India, Turkey, and the United States are part of this drift,” says the report.
It also notes that the number of democratizing countries has dropped by almost half to 16, hosting a mere 4% of the global population.