Fri, 09 Dec 2022

New Delhi [India], November 22 (ANI): The World Bank should ask for transparency from indices used in World Governance Indicators (WGI), EAC-PM member Sanjeev Sanyal has said and noted that the "clout of a tiny cabal of Western think tanks in this space is a form of neo-colonialism".

Sanyal, who has authored a working paper 'Why India does poorly on global perception indices: Case study of three opinion-based indices' along with Aakanksha Arora, said it investigates three well-known Western think-tanks "and found laughably shallow, opaque methodologies".

The working paper looked at three indices - Freedom in the World Index, Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index and Variety of Democracy indices.

The study has been brought out in the EAC-PM Working Paper series.

Sanyal, who made a series of tweets, said there is even an index on direct democracy that is meant for a small country like Switzerland and while India and the US get a zero, even Afghanistan does better.

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister also made a series of tweets on the basis of the working paper and said Freedom in the World Index and V-DEM indices have placed India at the same level as during the Emergency of the 1970s.

It said India has been placed below countries like Northern Cyprus which is not credible.

It said independent Indian think tanks should be encouraged to do similar perception-based indices for the world in order to break the monopoly of a handful of western institutions.

Sanyal said indices are based on opinions of three-six "experts".

"My working paper on why opinion-based global indices on issues like democracy and freedom have reduced India's rankings/scores since 2014. The paper investigates three well-known Western think-tanks and found laughably shallow, opaque methodologies," he said.

"Problem is that these opinions find their way into concrete things into sovereign ratings through the World Bank's WGI index.The growing calls for ESG scores in investment/trade decisions will give opinion-based indices even greater currency. It is time to demand transparency," he added.

Sanyal said EIU claims to use a ground survey, but has not done one for India since 2012.

"And the questions are so vague that it not possible to give objective scores even for a country, let alone across countries.

"Moreover, many relevant questions are just not asked. Surely it is relevant to ask for a democracy index if head of state is elected. Such a question would immediately downgrade many European countries as they as constitutional monarchies (also NZ AU CN etc). But never asked. There is even an index on direct democracy that is meant for a small country like Switzerland. India and US get a zero! Even Afghanistan does better!"The clout of a tiny cabal of Western think-tanks in this space is a form of neo-colonialism. It needs to be challenged. At the very least, World Bank should ask for transparency from indices used in WGI," he said.

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister said in tweets that in recent years, India's rankings and scores have declined on a number of global opinion-based indices that deal with subjective issues such as democracy, freedom and so on.

"Freedom in the World Index and V-DEM indices have placed India at the same level as during the Emergency of the 1970s. Moreover, India has been placed below countries like Northern Cyprus. Surely, this is not credible. There are serious problems with the methodology used in these perception-based indices. First, these indices are primarily based on the opinions of a tiny group of unknown 'experts'," it said.

"Second, the questions that are used are subjective and are worded in a way that is impossible to answer objectively even for a country, let alone compare across countries. Third, there are questions that should be asked but are excluded. Fourth, certain questions used by these indices are not an appropriate measure of democracy across all countries," it added.

EAC-PM also said that World Bank should ensure greater transparency and accountability from these institutions.

"Since these indices are inputs into the World Governance Indicators, the World Bank should ensure greater transparency and accountability from these institutions. Meanwhile, independent Indian think tanks should be encouraged to do similar perception-based indices for the world in order to break the monopoly of a handful of western institutions," it added. (ANI)

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