What is a democratic government? Often, it is reduced to an essential element, that is to say the electoral process. It is about having heads of government who are elected through fair and free elections. And also whether or not all sections of society have the right to participate.
India generally scores well in this regard. Even in the Freedom House ranking, which says India is only “partly free,” on electoral democracy, India scored 33/40, which is pretty good. In fact, that’s one more point than the United States of America, which got 32.
On civil liberties, however, India only scored 33/60 while the United States scored 51. Thus, the United States was rated “free” while we were “partly free”. (and Kashmir was classified as “not free”). It may surprise readers that electoral democracy was only good for 40 points while civil liberties were 60. But that is how most people view democracy. It is about the rights and freedoms of individuals and not just limited to a single act once every five years. So this is how democracies are rated and why we slip.
However, there is a third aspect of democracies that has not been addressed here and that is the functioning of the state. The citizen’s commitment is not with the politician he has elected. It is with the bureaucrat and the tax collector and the policeman and the judge that we have to deal. For us it is these people who are the state, and who are the ultimate representatives of democracy. If they were to be graded, how would that be?