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ITU’s ICT Development Index: What is not trite?

There is so much wrong with the IDI. It gives a higher ICT development rank to Cuba (106) and Zimbabwe (115) well ahead of India (119). I ridiculed the predecessor of the IDI in the past, but they keep churning it out unfazed and people keep paying attention, which then causes me to pay attention too. There was even a fuss in the Bangladesh media about how that esteemed country managed to get itself excluded from IDI coverage in 2012.

Few months back I promised to analyze the S Asian IDI rankings in more detail, so here goes.

A successful index does not violate common sense, as in the way IDI does when it places Cuba and Zimbabwe ahead of India and places India behind the Maldives. But it would also go beyond the trite; make someone stop and think. IDI fails on both counts except perhaps with regard to the skills subindex, the component with the least weight. Here, Sri Lanka (98) moves ahead of the Maldives (102); India (115) moves ahead of Bhutan (125) and Nepal (130) overtakes Pakistan (142), the only time it moves out of the S Asian cellar. But then I looked at the definition:

Skills sub-index: This sub-index captures ICT capability
or skills as indispensable input indicators. It includes
three proxy indicators (adult literacy, gross secondary
enrolment and gross tertiary enrolment), and
therefore is given less weight in the computation of
the IDI compared with the other two sub-indices.

As can be seen, the skills subindex has nothing to do with ICTs. Just generic education/literacy indicators. And are these even accurate? I tend to be suspicious about any ratio that gives values over 100, such as the Gross Enrollment Ratio where Saudi Arabia has a value of 100.6 versus Singapore’s 74.1.

What can one do, except wish for people who will apply the smell test to what they do when working on comparative indices?

1 Comment to ITU’s ICT Development Index: What is not trite?

  1. April 22, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Remember most of the indices are per capita, and I understands there are millions of poor and illiterate in india?And what is your issue with Zimbabwe ? Both teledensity and literacy are around 100%

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