India’s falling rank in global indices due to ‘serious problems’ in methodology: Analysis | india news

NEW DELHI: India’s decline in ranking on several global opinion-based indices is due to “cherry-picking of certain media reports” and based mainly on the opinion of a group of unnamed “experts”, a recent study concluded. Is. ,
A new working paper titled “Why India fares poorly on global perception indices” found that such indices cannot be ignored as “mere opinion” as they feed into the World Bank’s World Governance Indicator (WGI). do, it requires a close inspection. The method used to obtain the data.

The findings were published by Sanjeev SanyalMember of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC to PM) and Akanksha Arora, Deputy Director (EAC to PM).
In the report, the authors conducted a case study of three opinion-based indices: Freedom in the world indexEIU Democracy Index and Diversity of Democracy.
They drew four broad conclusions from the study:
1) Lack of transparencywhyIndexes were based primarily on the opinion of a small group of anonymous “experts”.
2) subjectivity: The questions used were subjective and worded in such a way that it is impossible to give an objective answer even for a country.
3) skipping important questionsKey questions that are relevant to a measure of democracy, such as “Is the head of state democratically elected?”, are not asked.
4) Vague question: Some of the questions used by these indices were not an appropriate measure of democracy in all countries.
Here’s a look at the three indices examined by the study:
Freedom in the World Index
India’s score on the US-based Freedom in the World Index – an annual global report on political rights and civil liberties – has steadily declined since 2018.
Its score on civil liberties was flat at 42 until 2018, but fell sharply to 33 by 2022. Its political authority score dropped from 35 to 33. Thus, India’s overall score becomes 66, which places India in the “partially free” category – the same status it was during the Emergency.
The study found that the only two previous instances where India was considered partially independent were during the Emergency and again during 1991–96 which were the years of economic liberalisation.

“Clearly it is arbitrary. The years of emergency, which were characterized by blatant political repression, suspended elections, official censoring of the press, jailing opponents without charge, banning labor strikes, etc., were accompanied by a period of economic liberalisation. What was in general? And today,” the study asked.
It concluded that the index “cherry-picked” certain media reports and issues in order to make decisions.
The authors further found that in Freedom House’s latest 2022 report, India has a freedom score of 66 on the World Index and is in the “partly free” category.
“Cross country comparisons point to arbitrariness in the method of scoring. There are a few examples of countries with scores higher than India which seem clearly unusual. Northern Cyprus is considered a free zone with a score of 77 ( 2022 report) This is ironic as North Cyprus is not even recognized as a country by the United Nations. It is recognized only by Turkey,” the authors said.
Economist Intelligence Unit
In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index, published by the research and consulting arm of the firm that publishes The Economist magazine, India has been ranked as a “flawed democracy”.
Its rank fell sharply from 27 in 2014 to 53 in 2020 and then slightly improved to 46 in 2021. The drop in rank has been mainly due to a decline in scores in the categories of civil liberties and political culture.
The authors found that the list of questions used to determine results was “quite subjective”, making objective scoring difficult.

He said that about 45 questions are answered by experts but the report also did not disclose the number, nationality, credentials or area of ​​expertise of these experts.
Furthermore, the authors note that since the latest opinion poll has not been conducted since 2012, this implies that the score for India is based only on expert opinion from 2012 to date.
The authors observed that India’s ranking had partially improved after the controversial farm laws were rolled back last year, adding that “the victory of the protesters suggests that the government’s accountability to the electorate is too much to allow for.” There are mechanisms and institutions for that.”
But the authors questioned how the report took into account the political situation on agricultural policy of a country, calling it “strange”.
Varieties of Democracy (V-DEM) Index
An analysis of V-DEM scores shows that while India fared well on objective parameters such as the share of the population with franchise, its scores on various subjective sub-indices declined sharply since 2014.
The authors noted that the 2021 report by the Sweden-based index called India an “electoral autocracy”, as it was during the period of the Emergency.
The authors speculate, “Clearly this is completely arbitrary as the years of the Emergency, which were a period of clear political repression, suspended elections, censored press, etc., have been equated with the situation today.”


The authors’ analysis of V-DEM’s reports indicated that the media articles were “cherry-picked” and that decisions have been made on that basis.
“For example, the report noted that there has been a decline in the autonomy of the election management body. It noted that ‘the overall freedom and fairness of the elections (elections are free and fair) were also severely affected, with the last The elections were held in 2019 under Prime Minister Modi’s rule, an electoral autocracy. The report does not provide a solid basis for coming to this conclusion,” the authors said.
‘Problems in Method’
According to the authors, there are “serious problems” with the methodology used in these assumption-based indices.
He said that the common factor in all these indices is that they have been prepared from the ‘perception or opinion of some experts’.
They state in their report, “These institutions do not provide any transparency about how the experts were chosen or their expertise or nationalities (expect that in the case of V-DEM where they clarify that they have selected some experts from each country) selected from different regions)”.
The authors suggested that the Indian government should request the World Bank to demand greater transparency and accountability from these institutions.
In the meantime, independent Indian think-tanks should be encouraged to create a similar perception-based index for the world to break the monopoly of a handful of Western institutions.

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