The word Democracy is derived from the Greek word "dēmokratia" which was
derived from the phrases dēmos (people) and kratos (rule)1. Democracy, which
simply translates "rule by the people
" gives citizens more authority to
assert political influence over the structure and operations of their
government. Although democracies have many different forms, they all share the
same elements, including competitive elections, freedom of speech, and the
protection of civil freedoms and human rights2.
However, it has been seen that democracy is waning globally as a result of
different incidents. Many parts of the world are displaying signs of shifting
toward authoritarian or non-democratic political systems3. This is the first
time in the 50 years that it has tracked democratic indicators in what is now
around 160 countries that the number of nations going in the direction of
authoritarianism is three times more than those moving in the direction of
Liberal democracy is evolving into popular democracy in a number of nations,
losing its liberal connotation. In other cases, it is falling so drastically
short of what the Greeks characterized as a kakistocracy
-the rule of the
least qualified or capable citizens-in terms of representation, planification,
On the other hand, it is true that democracy still retains a strong
international appeal despite all of its flaws, and even the majority of
authoritarian regimes assert that they are democratic because they believe they
represent the interests of the people as a whole and have created the most
cutting-edge strategies for winning over the populace.
What Is Democracy?
Democracy is one of the key factors, according to the United Nations. The UN
Commission on Human Rights identified certain fundamental components of
democracy in 2002, which are listed below:
- Respect for fundamental freedoms and Human Rights
- Freedom of association
- Freedom of expression and opinion
- Access to power and its exercise in accordance with the rule of law
- The holding of periodic free and fair elections by universal suffrage
and by secret ballot as the expression of the will of the people
- A pluralistic system of political parties and organizations
- The separation of powers
- The independence of the judiciary
- Transparency and accountability in public administration
- Free, independent and pluralistic media. 5
According to the UN, the foundation for democracy is founded on "global
principles, norms, and standards, with an emphasis on the mentioned parameters
that have been universally agreed upon.
Is Democracy At Risk?
In a thorough analysis published in November 2021, the International Institute
for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA)6 described how many democratic
nations began implementing authoritarian policies in a rush as a result of the
Covid 19 epidemic.
The survey looked at 165 nations using five key metrics mentioned herein below:
" representative government; fundamental rights; checks on government; impartial
administration and participatory engagement"7
Additionally, the study indicated that in 2020, authoritarian approaches were
adopted in more nations than democratic ones; this tendency was accelerated and
aggravated by the Covid-19 Pandemic. Brazil, India, the United States, Hungary,
Poland, and Slovenia are among some countries that IDEA listed as having seen
democratic "backsliding." The previous ten years have seen the highest number of
nations experiencing a democratic backslide.
More than 30% of the world's population lives in major, democratically
regressing nations. In actuality, 70% of the world's population presently
resides in nations with undemocratic governments or with declining democratic
standards. Only 9% of the world's population resides in democracies that are
Backsliding democracies as opposed to outright authoritarian regimes, employ
parliamentary majorities won via initially free and fair elections and there is
widespread support for the gradual destruction of checks on authority, freedom
of expression, a free press, and minority rights from within the democratic
system. Oftentimes, this democratic reversal proceeds slowly.
There are several factors that contribute to democratic decline and are
- Significant rise in the number of populist and illiberal parties in
The features of elected governance, freedom of expression, freedom of
association and assembly, and freedom of movement all suffer during times
when such administrations are in power.
- Political and cultural fragmentation is rising, while support for
democracy is declining:
Countries that have severe political divisions, harsh political disputes,
and low levels of general support for democracy are more likely to
experience democratic backsliding. Political parties that employ hate speech
or spread untrue information throughout their campaigns serve to intensify
Moreover, Public disapproval of democracy may be related to governments'
perceived incapacity to address social needs, views of inadequate
governmental competence in addressing the impacts of the economic crisis,
corruption, and inequality, or increasingly hostile political conflicts
eroding the legitimacy of democratic structures.
- Economic Turmoil:
This is one factor connected to democratic support declining and democracy
retreating. The start and persistence of democratic backsliding are
facilitated by reduced and declining economic growth rates.
- Challenge to strike a balance between public safety and freedom of
In today's world, digital media plays a significant role in politics, and a
number of countries are constantly battling to address a variety of issues
such as worrying and fake news, foreign governments' use of social platforms
to sway public opinion, data privacy and security, and the firm's monopoly
and lack of transparency.
Is Indian Democracy At Stake?
In their book To Kill a Democracy10 Debasish Roy Chowdhury and John Keane offer
a somber account of how the nation's democratic government has been slowly
deteriorating over the past several decades. Moreover, the authors persuasively
contend that India may be trapped in an unstoppable decline toward autocracy
with a democratic fašade unless present developments are either reversed or
For instance, Father Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest and tribal rights advocate who
had been detained on the questionable suspicion of having connections to India's
Maoist rebels, passed away on July 4th, 2021 in a Mumbai hospital as a result of
complications with covid-19. He had caught the virus while he was detained for
several months while his case was being investigated. He was regularly denied
bail by Indian courts.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), India's leading counter-terrorism
agency, instructed them to proceed with their instructions. As a result,
Nationwide demonstrations regarding the judiciary and NIA's indifference were
sparked by Swamy's demise. Swamy's unfortunate death while in detention serves
as an example of some of the numerous problems that India's democracy is
currently experiencing. One such flaw is that the previously fiercely
independent judiciary now submits to the whims of the executive branch11.
Another instance illustrating the demise of democracy in India is when in the
2014 national elections, there were sixteen fatalities and up to 2,000 injuries.
And the flaws with the electoral system are widespread: Due to India's poor
electoral regulations and lack of public campaign finance, the amount of black
money in both national and state elections has escalated, further jeopardizing
the integrity of the voting process.
People all across the world still adhere to the notion of democracy even after
it has been decimated. By funding democracy education at all levels, government
institutions, civil society, and the media can reduce the threat of
authoritarianism and the degradation of democracy.
The key to limiting the danger of disruption in the next few years and restoring
democracy in the long term is to guarantee that democratic channels of
communication and accountability between states and citizens are resurrected,
scaled up, and formalized through new channels as well as conventional
elections. In order to ensure that such connection is available, initiatives for
spreading digital access to the most remote regions must be included.
It will be a mandate in certain nations to modify the binding norm between
citizens and the government, since such a process based on wide involvement
would result in a framework that is more citizen oriented and publicly
respectable. Citizens are more inclined to follow regulations if they have a say
in their formulation, and there will be motivation to safeguard their own
integrity. Chile is a particularly promising example12 of this, demonstrating
how new social contracts may be redesigned to suit prevailing social demands.
Democracy, which is gradually emerging from Covid-19, is at a juncture. On the
one hand, the survival of democratic ideals and governance is at stake in a more
authoritarian world, which is characterized not just by increased repression in
existing authoritarian circumstances but also by democratic nations' adoption of
conventionally authoritarian methods.
The majority of governments and citizens, on the other hand, are starting to
realize that democracy must adapt and revive itself for future generations as
they will encounter a variety of challenges, such as rising inequality and
climate change. Also, in order to ensure the survival of basic political
freedoms, there are many innovations and reforms being implemented.
Democracies must come forward, reclaim their strengths, and demonstrate to the
rest of the world why democratic administration is the greatest alternative in
order to overcome the current difficulties and provide more tenable
circumstances for a durable, inclusive, and responsible recovery. The changes
must be put into place in order to appropriately deliver the services necessary
for upholding human dignity and enabling individuals to accomplish their goals.
- Available at : https://www.britannica.com/topic/democracy/The-Roman-Republic
( last visited on June 28, 2022)
- Robert Longley, "What is democracy? Available at:
visited on June 28, 2022
- Andrew Hammond, " Why democracy is in retreat across the globe",
Available at: https://www.arabnews.com/node/1975496 (last visited on June
- Available at: https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/democracy (last
visited on June 30, 2022)
- Available at: https://lordslibrary.parliament.uk/democracy-under-threat-a-case-for-co-ordinated-action/
(last visited on July 1, 2022)
- International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. "The
Global State of Democracy 2021, Building Resilience in a Pandemic Era",
- To Kill a Democracy: India's Passage to Despotism. By Debasish Roy
Chowdhury and John Keane. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021. 320 pp.
- Sumit Ganguly, "India's Endangered Democracy", 32 Journal of Democracy
- Supra note 8 at 3