INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DEMOCRACY
16th September, 2022 Polity and Governance
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- The United Nations General Assembly in 2007 decided to mark 15th September as the International Day of Democracy.
- The objective is to promote and upholds the principles of democracy.
- Recently UNESCO has reported that 85% of the world’s population experienced a decline in press freedom in their country in the past 5 years.
- Several social activists around the globe have raised concern and highlighted that “Protecting democratic institutions is a major challenge globally, and recent events in Europe are reminding the world that our democratic principles are constantly under threat”.
Annual Democracy Report 2022
- The V-Dem Institute at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg has released its annual democracy report.
- The title of the report is ‘Democracy Report 2022: Autocratisation Changing Nature?’
- The report classified the countries into 4 categories based on their score in the Liberal Democratic Index (LDI):
- Liberal Democracy
- Electoral Democracy
- Electoral Autocracy
- Closed Autocracy
- It classifies India as an electoral autocracy ranking it 93rd on the LDI, out of 179 countries.
- India is one of the top ten ‘autocratisers’ in the world.
- One of the main reasons for Autocratisation is “toxic polarization”, a dominant trend in 40 countries, as opposed to 5 countries that showed rising polarization in 2011.
- According to the report, the level of democracy enjoyed by the average global citizen in 2021 is down to 1989 levels, with the democratic gains of the post-Cold War period eroding rapidly in the last few years.
Key findings of the report
- Sweden topped the LDI index. Denmark, Norway, Costa Rica and New Zealand make up the top 5 in liberal democracy rankings.
- Autocratisation is spreading rapidly, with a record of 33 countries autocratising.
- 2021 saw a record 6 coups, resulting in 4 new autocracies: Chad, Guinea, Mali and Myanmar.
- The Number of liberal democracies stood at 42 in 2012, their number has shrunk to its lowest level in over 25 years, with just 34 countries and 13% of the world population living in liberal democracies.
- Closed autocracies, or dictatorships, rose from 25 to 30 between 2020 and 2021.
- The world today has 89 democracies and 90 autocracies.
- Electoral autocracy remains the most common regime type, accounting for 60 countries and 44% of the world population or 3.4 billion people.
- Electoral democracies were the second most common regime, accounting for 55 countries and 16% of the world population.
- The report identified “misinformation” as a key tool deployed by autocratising governments to sharpen polarization and shape domestic and international opinion.
- Repression of civil society and censorship of media were other favoured tools of autocratic regimes.
- The report also found that eroding autonomy of the electoral management body in 25 countries.
- Key findings about India
- With the ranking of 93rd in the LDI, India figures in the “bottom 50%” of countries.
- In South Asia, India is ranked below Sri Lanka (88), Nepal (71), Bhutan (65) and above Pakistan (117) in the LDI.
- One of the main reasons behind Autocratisation is “toxic polarization”; defined as a phenomenon that erodes respect for counter-arguments.
Significance of Democracy
- For long People have struggled for their Rights. It is generally believed that democracy is the best System to give Rights to People.
- Most modern States include People of different religions, languages, and Cultural traditions. But the National identity of a democratic State is Supposed to Provide Citizens with a Political identity that Can be Shared by all the members of the State.
- The democratic States usually try to define their identity So that it is as inclusive as possible, which allows all Citizens to identify themselves as Part of the Nation.
- Why Democracy?
- It Promotes equality among Citizens.
- Enhances the dignity of the individual.
- Improves the quality of decision-making.
- Provides a method to resolve Conflicts.
- Allows room to Correct mistakes.
- The Countries which have formal Constitutions, hold elections and form governments.
- Guarantee the Rights of Citizens.
- Solves the Social, Political and Economic Problems of the Country.
- Ending of Racial Discrimination;
- In South Africa, After Several decades of Struggle, the Policy of Racial discrimination toward blacks Came to an end in 1994 with Nelson Mandela being Sworn in as a Black President.
- For a Successful democracy, People need to Participate in its Governance.
- Participation through voting in elections. Other ways of Participation are Dharna, Rallies, Strikes, Signature Campaigns and other forms of Protests.
- Mass media like TV, Newspapers, Magazines and other agencies also play a major role in highlighting Public issues and moulding Public opinion.
- Resolve Conflicts;
- In any Country, Problems may result in Conflicts and lead to Social Tension.
- There may arise a situation when two people or two groups feel that they are not being treated fairly or are being discriminated against on grounds of Culture, Region, Religion, Economic background, Caste, Race, etc.
- It is the Government’s responsibility to resolve these Conflicts. EX- Interstate Rivers dispute.
- Equality and Justice;
- Ensure Justice and equality for all, they are two different Sides of the Same Coin and are essential in a democracy.
- Without Justice and equality democracy would remain meaningless and directionless.
- Accountable Government;
- Democracy is accountable because it is the government of the People and made by the People and for the People.
- Representatives elected by the People are responsible to them. If the People are not happy, they can Change the leaders in the coming elections.
- Responsive Government;
- A Citizen has the right and the means to examine the process of decision-making. This type of transparency is not available in non-Democratic Governments.
- Ex - In the USA Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s restored the dignity of Afro-Americans based on Color.
- Legitimate Government;
- A democratic government is a legitimate government.
- It may be slow, less efficient, and not always very responsive or clean. But a democratic Government cannot ignore the needs of the People.