India is not a full democracy but a flawed one, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2008 Democracy index. The conclusion is drawn on the basis of the country's performance on 60 indicators which measure electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture.
The Democracy index ranks India 35th out of 167 countries, among other nations considered 'flawed democracies' including Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil.
Pakistan ranks at 108 out of 167.
The good news is that with an overall score of 7.8 out of 10, India is close to the category of 'full democracy' nations.
India's scores take a beating in the category of political participation and political culture. The index also points out that "unwieldy and sometimes uncooperative coalitions" often hinder economic reforms. Though government functioning scores decently, corruption and lack of government accountability drags down the score in this category. Hence, "uncooperative coalitions "dragged India down in this ranking! (That is why I say that bar must be raised for regional parties for a national participation otherwise they will continue to play spoil-sport!)
The Economist has in a study examined the state of democracy in 167 countries and attempted to quantify this with an Economist Intelligence Unit Index of Democracy which focused on five general categories; electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation and political culture.
The countries are categorized into:
- Full democracies—scores of 8-10.
- Flawed democracies—scores of 6 to 7.9.
- Hybrid regimes—scores of 4 to 5.9.
- Authoritarian regimes—scores below 4.
According to Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index 2008:
# 1: Sweden
# 2: Norway
# 3: Iceland
# 4: Netherlands (Holland)
# 10: Australia
# 17: Japan
# 18: USA
# 21: UK
# 108: Pakistan
# 161; Saudi Arabia
# 163: Burma (Myanmar)
Last (# 167): North Korea
As described in the report, the democracy index is a kind of weighted average based on the answers of 60 questions, each one with either two or three permitted alternative answers. Most answers are "experts' assessments"; the report does not indicate what kinds of experts, nor their number, nor whether the experts are employees of The Economist or e.g. independent scholars, nor the nationalities of the experts. Some answers are provided by public opinion surveys from the respective countries.
- "Whether national elections are free and fair";
- "The security of voters";
- "The influence of foreign powers on government";
- "The capability of the civil servants to implement policies".