MUMBAI (TIP): India ranks 37 out of 102 countries on the Open Government Index 2015, which ranks countries on how transparent their governments are and the ease with which citizens can hold their government accountable.
The report, released on March 26 by Washington-based World Justice Project, is a perception survey on a random sample in three cities in each country, and has also interviewed experts in the field of transparency.
Those that topped the list were high income countries such as Sweden, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark and Netherlands. “Richer countries rank higher as they have more resources and more people connected to the internet. But on removing high-income countries from the list, the correlation between a country’s per capita gross domestic product and its rank on the Open Government Index disappears,” says Juan Carlos Botero, one of the authors of the report, said.
This is evident when one compares India with China. While China is on the list of upper middle income countries and India is on the list of lower middle income countries, India outperforms China by 50 ranks when it comes to transparency in governance, with China ranking 87 on the list.
Incidentally, US ranked 11 on the index, despite it facing heat over spying on its citizens. “In other studies, such as the Rule of Law Index, the US does not fare well on privacy,” says Botero.
Of the four parameters used to rank countries, India ranked 27 for publicized laws and government data. But it ranked 66 on Right to Information index. In India, the survey was carried out in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, and only 1% of those studied had requested information under the Act. Botero points out that there is no correlation between a country having a RTI law and implementing it. “Countries, like Germany, do not have a freedom of information law, but score well on open governance. India, on the other hand, has a strong transparency law. It now needs to implement it,” he adds. The study showed that worldwide 40% of those surveyed were aware of laws supporting their right to access government data.