Numbers, facts and a bit of laziness can change perception. Mainstream media reported this morning that ‘India tops global index of countries with the most confidence in their government’, which is incorrect.
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Government at a Glance report mentions that “73 per cent Indians have faith in the Narendra Modi led NDA coalition”, which is correct. However, as the headline says, India is not the one where the citizens have maximum confidence in it. It is Indonesia and Switzerland jointly sharing the number one slot with 80 percent followed by India at number 3 with 73 percent.
Here is what you see from the OECD report:
According to data from 2016, the report ranks India ranks third in the list with Indonesia and Switzerland joint-topping with 80 percent confidence ratings. Here is a copy of the data from the OECD.
What got this ‘story’ going was actually a report from the much venerated Forbes, which has this copy.
What is clear from the copy and from the OECD report however is that India is not the ‘focus’ for the ‘story’. What Forbes just did though, is tell the world (and Indians) that we were topping at something.
At the end of the story is this little nugget, with a data graph.
The problem is that the nugget has been picked up, eaten and regurgitated by media outlets in India, with a spin, that will make it viral on WhatsApp. The OECD report, in fact, seeks to measure the confidence that citizens have in their government post-2007 and the financial crisis.
The OECD report mentions that changes in trust in a government can be caused by a number of social, economic and cultural factors. Therefore, with respect to this particular report it says: "Consequently, changes in the trust level over time are the focus here rather than absolute trust levels," it says.
So, according to data, Indians' confidence in their government in 2007 was higher by nine percentage points.We shared the top step on the podium with Luxemborg with an 82 percent confidence rating. Over the past nine years we have slid to third in 2016.
That said, as Yashwant Deshmukh pointed out on Twitter, the OECD confidence rate in the government had fallen to a low of 55 percent in 2012. It rose to 73 percent in 2014, when the Modi government came to power.
And here is complete data for all years for all countries surveyed OECD for report on "Trust in Government". For anyone and everyone here. pic.twitter.com/ivxg8mtVGC— Yashwant Deshmukh (@YRDeshmukh) July 14, 2017
That is not the conclusion that the media reaches. ‘We have the most trusted government,’ they say.
The story has been updated to include data from 2012