The State of Democracy in India assessment was conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, India and the LOKNITI – CSDS Programme for Comparative Democracy, and the findings were included in the region-wide report South Asia State of Democracy.
The State of Democracy in South Asia project sought to locate democracy in the context of that region in order to discover what South Asians think about democracy and how they have adapted the idea of it. Toward this aim, a modified version of International IDEA’s assessment framework was used. The adapted framework was divided into four areas: the economic, social and cultural domain; the state institutional domain; the party political domain; and the non-party political domain. The methodology included cross-section surveys, dialogues with political activists, case studies and qualitative assessments.
The project showed that across the region, democratic ‘preconditions’ are not necessary for the installation of democracy, and that democracy has yet to address the question of poverty. It also demonstrated that there is a disconnect between scholars and activists, on the one hand, and the general public, on the other. The first two are clear about the gap between the ideal of democracy and what actually exists, whereas the public sees the operation of minimum democratic standards. This generated a dual challenge: to balance both perspectives and to determine the appropriate methodology for assessment.
The project also created a website that consolidates the findings of the different countries, explains the method used and provides information for evidence-based advocacy in the five countries assessed.