ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Statisticians and the Index Game

The United Nations Development Programme has been in the forefront of efforts to develop composite indexes for countries, but these exercises in statistical jugglery are of little practical value. 

About a year back, Roper Starch Company made a survey of levels of happiness in different countries and published its findings which caused considerable amusement as also wonderment. Indians were found to be the second happiest people in the world next only to the United States’ people; far happier than the British, the French and most Scandinavians. The findings were based on a survey of answers given by a large number of people in different countries. The survey also concluded that Indians attach much less importance to family relationship than the Americans and further that the Americans give more place to religion and god in their scheme of things.

George Cherian reports in The Economic Times, June 22, 2000 on the survey by Transparency International that establishes a CPI, not Communist Party of India but Corruption Perception Index. India this year ranked 72nd in the transparency index which makes it the 28th most corrupt country in the world; in the same bracket as Columbia. The most corrupt countries are said to be Cameroon and Nigeria. Denmark, Finland, New Zealand and Sweden are the cleanest countries with minimal corruption. United States at the 18th position and United Kingdom at the 14th on the transparency index are apparently way down in the corruption ranking. Russia is ranked 82nd on the index, making it the 18th most corrupt country. Pakistan does not feature on the index at all. India’s elevation from the 20th to the 28th most corrupt country is an optical illusion caused by the fact that the 1998 survey covered 85 countries while the 1999 one takes into account the situation in 99 countries.

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