India has been one of the “worst autocratisers” in the last ten years, Sweden-based Varieties of Democracy Institute has said in a report.
“In India, the ruling right-wing, Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the helm continues to suppress religious freedom,” read the report.
The “Defiance in the Face of Autocratisation” report was released on March 3.
According to the report, India is among the countries “witnessing the most dramatic increases” in political polarisation. The other countries are Afghanistan, Brazil, and Myanmar.
The think tank ranked India at the 108th spot globally for electoral democracy, below countries such as Tanzania, Bolivia, Mexico, Singapore, and Nigeria.
“Toxic levels of polarisation hinder cooperation among elites and induce citizens to abandon democratic principles to keep their leader in power and get their preferred policy,” the report added. “That way, toxic levels of polarisation often increase support for autocratic leaders and empower their illiberal agendas.”
Two years before, the same group stated that India had become an “electoral autocracy.”
The V-Dem Institute is an independent research institute founded by Professor Staffan I. Lindberg in 2014 that studies the qualities of government. A number of government organizations, the World Bank, and several research institutions funds the institute.
The think tank claims to produce the largest global dataset on democracy involving 202 countries from 1789 to 2022. It says that it measures “hundreds of different attributes of democracy” with over 31 million data points, involving almost 4,000 scholars and country experts.
India’s academic freedom index is also in the bottom 30 percent among 179 countries. The report, titled “Academic Freedom Index Update 2023” identified 22 countries – including India, China, the United States and Mexico – where it said universities and scholars experience significantly less academic freedom today than they did ten years ago.