If ignorance is bliss, India is paradise

Please focus.
Please focus.
Image: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
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Here’s a year-end accolade for the world’s largest democracy and, some say, rising global superpower: Indians are the most ignorant people on the planet.

In 2016, India is ranked right at the very top of Ipsos Perils of Perception Survey, which “highlights how wrong the public across 40 countries are about key global issues and features of the population in their country.” It’s not a one-off performance; last year, India was adjudged the second-worst performer on the survey’s so-called “Index of Ignorance.”

Index of Ignorance 2016

To assess the state of the world’s great uninformed masses, Ipsos MORI, a British market research firm, conducted 27,250 interviews between September and November this year.

“Across all 40 countries in the study, each population gets a lot wrong. We are often most incorrect on factors that are widely discussed in the media, such as the proportion of our population that are Muslims and wealth inequality,” said Bobby Duffy, managing director of the Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute, “We know from previous studies that this is partly because we over-estimate what we worry about.”

Here’s the list of questions that Indian respondents were asked, and how they fared:

India’s ignorance isn’t particularly encouraging, but it may also have to do with how the survey is conducted, which is mostly online. Here is Duffy’s explanation:

It is also clear from our “Index of Ignorance” that the countries who tend to do worst have relatively low internet penetrations: given this is an online survey, this will reflect the fact that this more middle-class and connected population think the rest of their countries are more like them than they really are.