Working paper compared three well-known Western think tanks found shallow and opaque methods were used . Indias has been ranked 66 in Freedom in the World Index, Freedom in the World Index, Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index, and Variety of Democracy indices .
New Delhi, India, November 22: With a decline in India's rankings on opinion-based global indices on topics such as democracy and freedom in recent years, a working paper that compared three well-known Western think tanks found shallow and opaque methods were used with the common thread that they are derived from findings of a few experts.The working paper Why India does poorly on global perception indices: A case study of three opinion-based indices compiled by economists Sanjeev Sanyal and Aakanksha Arora examines three categories: Freedom in the World Index, Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index, and Variety of Democracy indices.It said that the government should petition the World Bank to demand accountability from think tanks that provide inputs to the World Governance Indicators (WGI).The paper, which was published in the EAC-PM Working Paper series, stated that all three indicators are almost entirely perception based and that they should not be interpreted as mere conclusions as they are translated into concrete measures such as sovereign ratings by WGI, which is based on a mixture of many of these indices.The Indian government should therefore, as a first step, invite the World Bank to demand that think-tanks that provide inputs for the WGI be transparent and accountable.Independent think tanks in India should be encouraged to study these topics and devise their own indices, according to Sanyal, who also serves as the Principal Economic Advisor in the Finance Ministry and now a member of the Prime Ministers Economic Advisory Council (PM-EAC), because these indices are primarily based on the views of a small group of unknown experts, and certain questions asked by them are not an accurate measure of democracy in all countries.The paper focuses on three well-known Western think tank networks, revealing ridiculously shallow, opaque methods.The problem is that these views are translated into concrete things into sovereign ratings (as measured by the World Banks WGI index). In a tweet, the authors said that it is time to demand more accountability from both the think tanks and the World Bank, and that Freedom in the World Index has been published by Freedom House since 1973.India's Civil Liberties Index was flat at 42 until 2018, but that number fell sharply to 33 by 2022; that for Political Rights dropped from 35 to 33.Thus, India's overall ranking has been reduced to 66, placing it in the partially free category, the same as it was in the aftermath of the Great Depression.Since the index was published, the only two other instances where India was classified as Partially Free have been during the time of the crisis and then during the years of economic liberalization in 1991-96.This is certainly unfair, given that the time of emergency, which was a period of obvious interruption of certain activities, was similar to the period of economic liberalisation or the current period, according to the journal.The paper noted that the Freedom in the World survey has assigned the territory of Northern Cyprus a score of 77, making it a democratic state. According to the EIU's Democracy Index, the think tank continues to treat Jammu and Kashmir as a distinct territory since the early 1990s and has now placed it in the category of not free, the journal said.According to the report, India has deteriorated dramatically from 27 in 2014 to 53 in 2020, before increasing a bit to 46 in 2021.The drop in ranking has been due to a decrease in the scores in the categories- Civil Rights and Political Culture.The most significant drop occurred in the category Civil Liberties, for which the value dropped from 9.41 in 2014 to 5.59 in 2020, according to the paper. In contrast, India's Political Culture ranking is much lower than Hong Kong's (7.5) and Sri Lanka (6.25).This is obviously unfair, according to the research.According to the report, the EIU does not only rely on experts' opinion but also take responses to some questions from opinion polls, if they are available (mostly from the World Value Survey (WVS).The most recent WVS survey has been published in India in 2012. According to the paper, the EIU Democracy index for India is only based on expert opinion since 2012.The paper said that although India is lower on objective measures such as the percentage of population with suffrage in the 2021 survey than Lesotho, which gained independence from Serbia only in 2008, the paper said that the indices are composed of several sub-indices and that the final indices are constructed from both types of variables.India's rank on the Liberal Democracy Index is 93.Lesotho, on the other hand, has a 60 percent mark, since having democratically elected government existed only in the mid 1990s and has since had four crises, including a military coup and emergency.Or Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia only in 2008, has a 79 ranking. The Freedom House survey found that these organizations lack transparency about how the experts were selected, or even their backgrounds or nationalities (ask in the case of V-DEM where they state that they selected some experts from each country from different fields), according to the working paper.The report also claims that the experts' nationality and expertise is not disclosed in the survey.All of the indices, according to the editors, are based on a set of problems; therefore, simply providing the same questions for all countries means getting comparable scores for different countries, as the generic questions can be answered by experts in a different way.