India Current Affairs - 2020

India joins Ashgabat agreement

India has joined Ashgabat Agreement which envisages facilitation of transit and transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf to significantly boost up trade and investment. It was informed by Turkmenistan, as depository state of the Agreement that all its four founding members have consented to accession of India.

Ashgabat Agreement

Ashgabat Agreement aims at establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor between the Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It was signed in April 2011 and is named after  capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat. It establishes international transport and transit corridor between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf countries. Pakistan is also its member since October 2016.

Significance of accession to Agreement

  • It will enable India to utilise this existing transport and transit corridor to facilitate trade and commercial interaction and ties with Central Asia and Eurasian region.
  • It will synchronise India’s efforts to implement the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) for enhanced connectivity.
  • It will provide India an opportunity for reorientation of the freight traffic from the traditional sea route to land transcontinental routes.

Background

India had deposited the Instrument of Accession with Turkmenistan in April 2016. Prior to it, the Union Cabinet had given its approval for India to accede to Ashgabat Agreement in March 2016.

India ranks 42nd in 2017 Global Democracy Index

India world’s largest democracy was ranked 42nd among 165 independent states on annual 2017 Global Democracy Index (GDI) released by UK-based company, Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). India’s rank has slipped from 32nd in 2016 GDI and its overall score dropped 0.58 points from 7.81 to 7.23. Moreover, India was classified India as a flawed democracy in 2017 GDI

Global Democracy Index (GDI)

The index ranks 165 independent states and 2 territories on basis of 60 indicators grouped in five different categories viz. electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture. It categories countries into four broad categories viz. full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian regime based on their score on a scale from 0 to 10. It is released by EIU, a research and analysis division of UK- based media behemoth The Economist Group.

Key Highlights of 2017 GDI

Top 10 countries in 2017 GDI: Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Finland and Switzerland. Top three positions on the list were occupied by Nordic countries.

Top-ranked Norway was given overall score of 9.87 with perfect-ten scores for electoral process and pluralism; political participation; and political culture. Only top 19 countries have been classified as ‘full democracies’

Global Scenario: US (ranked 21), Japan, Italy, France, Israel, Singapore, and Hong Kong were named among ‘flawed democracies’.  The hybrid regimes classified by it includes India’s neighbours Pakistan (110th), Bangladesh (92nd), Nepal (94th) and Bhutan (99th). Those named as ‘authoritarian regimes’ include China (139th), Myanmar (120th), Russia (135th) and Vietnam (140th). North Korea was ranked lowest at 167th and Syria second last at 166th place.

India related Highlights: India’s overall score has fallen to 7.23 points, even as it scored well on electoral process and pluralism (9.17). It scored low on other four parameters—political culture, functioning of government, political participation and civil liberties. India was ranked 49th with regard to media freedom (measured this year by EIU), with its media being classified as ‘partly free’.

The rise of conservative religious ideologies in India is another factor that has affected the country’s ranking. The strengthening of right-wing Hindu forces has led to rise of vigilantism and violence against minority communities, particularly Muslims, as well as other dissenting voices.