Anti-CAA, NRC protests in Mumbai (File image)
India's position has slipped by two places in the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) Democracy Index 2020 to 53rd. On the contrary, the scores of neighbouring Bangladesh, Bhutan and Pakistan "marginally improved", the report released on February 3 said.
India's fall in the ranking was attributed to the enactment of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the subsequent riots in Delhi and an "increasing influence of religion" under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tenure.
The report pointed towards the sharp dip in India's position in the democracy index over the past six years, as it slipped from the 27th spot in 2014 to 53rd in 2020.
"India’s score fell from a peak of 7.92 in 2014 to 6.61 in 2020 and its global ranking slipped from 27th to 53rd as a result of democratic backsliding under the leadership of Narendra Modi," it said.
The EIU report claimed that some of the policies of the Indian government have "fomented anti-Muslim feeling and religious strife", and has "damaged the political fabric of the country".
The enactment of the CAA "continued to fuel riots in 2020, with several
left dead following clashes in February" in Delhi, the report underscored, while noting that the citizenship law is feared to adversely impact the "secular basis of the Indian state".
The report classified India as"flawed democracy" - the category which also includes the US, France, Belgium and Brazil.
While India was ahead of its South Asian neighbours in the EIU index, three of the next-door neighbours improved their positions vis-a-vis the previous year.
Pakistan's ranking improved from 108th to 105th this year, but the country continues to be categorised under "hybrid regime" category.
Bangladesh continued to move up the positive trajectory, as it jumped four spots to rank as 76th. The country had, in the past year, jumped eight places to finish at the 80th position.
Bhutan and Sri Lanka were ranked this year at 84th and 68th position, respectively, whereas, Afghanistan was placed at the 139th spot and categorised as an "authoritarian regime".
The EIU report, titled as "Democracy in sickness and in health?" as it also took into account the COVID-19 curbs, said a number of countries slipped this year due to the violation of civil liberties - a collateral effect of virus-related restrictions.
Norway topped the 2020 Democracy Index, similar to the past year. Other countries in the top five are Iceland (2nd), Sweden (3rd), New Zealand (4th) and Canada (5th).
The EIU report uses five criterias - electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. A total of 167 countries are ranked, with North Korea being consecutively placed at the lowest spot.