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Ignorant Perception India
Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
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PERCEPTION SURVEY

If ignorance is bliss, India is paradise

Devjyot Ghoshal
By Devjyot Ghoshal

India Editor

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

RankCountry
1India
2China
3Taiwan
4South Africa
5US
6Brazil
7Thailand
8Singapore
9Turkey
10Indonesia

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:

QuestionAverage guessActual
Out of every 100 people, about how many do you think are Muslim?2814.2
By 2020, out of every 100 people, about how many do you think will be Muslim?3415.4
When asked in a survey, what percentage of people do you think said that, taking all things together, they are very happy or rather happy?4781
When asked in a survey, what percentage of people do you think said they personally believe that homosexuality is morally unacceptable?5667
When asked in a survey, what percentage of people do you think said they personally believe that sex between unmarried adults is morally unacceptable?5667
When asked in a survey, what percentage of people do you think said they personally believe that having an abortion is morally unacceptable?4958
What percentage of total household wealth do you think the least wealthy 70% own?3910
Out of every 100 households, how many are owned by someone who lives there?4487
What percentage of total annual gross domestic product do you think is spent on health expenditure each year?275

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.

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