Only 19 countries in the world are full democracies at present, according to a report sourced to the Intelligence Unit of The Economist, an English-language weekly magazine-format newspaper, founded by James Wilson (1805-1860) in 1843. Democracy Index, brought out annually by its editorial group with office in London looks at Governments around the world and tracks elections, politics, culture and civil rights. This year’s report concluded that nearly a third of the global population live under authoritarian rule, with Norway ranked as the most democratic nation and Western Europe accounts for 14 of the 19 full democracies. India doesn’t figure in the list of top ten democracies, according to the Index, noting that overall, across the world, the sad reality is that democratic norms are slipping, adding that the things that are being affected include declining trust in institutions, erosion of civil liberties and curbs on freedom of speech. This view matches the ongoing exchanges between India’s veteran corporate and the top brass in the Central Government, with the former reportedly making the statement that India Inc is afraid to criticise the Government kicking up a storm, several senior Ministers accusing the corporate of weaving fake narratives and hurling invectives.
The State in many countries, including India, plays a prominent role in curtailing freedom of the media and of expression. Governments in democratic as well as authoritarian countries are promulgating defamation and sedition laws, prevention of terrorism laws, blasphemy and hate-speech laws to curb freedom of expression and stymie media freedom. Many analysts have hinted that such features apply to India in considerable measure.
Claims of many achievements through various pro-people programmes by both top brass in the Government and its spokespersons through public statements in all media forms and the Opposition dubbing the claims as false has left the aam aadmi disenchanted with the administration. Taking the view of a noted political pundit, the critical element that all laws apply equally to all citizens is a tad suspect in India’s present dispensation. Further, uprightness on the part of officials at all levels and ethics on the part of players of all hues in the trade and commerce field are bad words. Goons, with veiled backing by political parties, are having field day in taking law into their hands in all regions across the country, including Karnataka. The terms haftha, hawala, supari and so on dominate their dialogues with those who hire them. The monetary value of supari depends on the importance of the person to be killed, in return for the haftha.
In the backdrop of the politicos-goons nexus, India’s aam aadmi feeling beleaguered is an open secret. Nothing moves in the offices of the administration at all levels without bribing the functionaries. Of course, if there were no givers, there would be no beneficiaries of bribe money. You take the pick to blame one kind or the other.