Asia has some of the best functioning democracies in the world. India, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka have nearly eight decades of democratic governance systems in place. However, some other countries since their independence from colonial rule are still struggling to protect the democratic institutions, maintain the rule of law, social justice and pursue economic growth . Asia Center for Democracy and Development (ACFDD) believes that democracy does certainly promote economic growth by laying good foundations through inclusive institutions (guarantying to a certain degree the participation of the majority of the population), governance, rule of law, stability and thereby build confidence for investors to invest. Even though emerging populism, nativism, religious based antagonism becoming constraints for democratic governance, in the long-run, only an inclusive decision-making process, motivating people to give their opinion [and] to be more involved in society, is capable of bringing political stability and sustainable development.
There are several ways in which the historical and social origins of democracy in Asia are sharply different from those in much of the West, and the indigenous political culture has fundamentally reshaped the processes of democracy.
Democracy tends to be measured by citizenship participation, electoral competition and civil liberties. The existing representative democracies in Asia are not functioning as intended as the developing world still struggles to achieve socio-political stability and sustainable economic growth. Democracy does not automatically lead to economic development. It is emphasised that economic development is necessary, though not sufficient, for democratisation. Regardless, the more prosperous a nation is, the greater the chances that it will sustain democracy.
In the symbiotic relationship between democracy and development, democracies accompanied by liberalised markets provide the engine for growth. This is because decentralisation of political power and market liberalisation contribute to producer confidence, initiative, investment, and growth. Ultimately, however, it is domestic stability that attracts capital and stimulates growth. Nations that have been able to create political stability have been able to grow much faster than those that could not, regardless of the type of political regime. Democracy and economic growth are further linked through democracy’s emphasis on the provision of literacy, education, and communication. Moreover, democracies resolve social conflict through non-violent political solutions; therefore, democratic regimes tend to be more politically resilient than authoritarian regimes where stability is often short lived and violently managed. Essentially, democracy indirectly affects economic growth through influencing a country’s political stability and corresponding investment appeal.
The Center on Democracy and Development is an interdisciplinary center for research focuses on all of its dimensions: political, economic, social, and legal, and the ways in which these different dimensions interact with one another. We seek to understand how countries can overcome poverty, inter-racial and religious conflicts, instability, and abusive rule to become prosperous, just, democratic, and well-governed societies. We also want to analyze the ways in which democracy and development can be threatened by the authoritarian resurgence, technology, populism, and the broader process of globalization.