The latest Perils of Perception poll from the British survey agency, Ipsos MORI, has found that India is second only to Mexico for sheer ignorance. We strongly disagree. This is a typical Anglo-American plot to get us down. The world has agreed for all time that the United States is the most ignorant zone of the planet, and that the Midwestern states are the bull’s eye, in a manner of speaking. Or maybe, this is one of those perils of perception which the poll, released last week, was designed to expose.
None of the Western powers figures in the top 10 list of ignorant countries, which is highly suspicious. Mexico leads the pack and Argentina brings up the rear. The only European countries to figure are Belgium and Italy, both of which have led exciting lives. The former was the cockpit of Europe and remains the headquarters of the continent. The latter’s political history is so complex that it can play with fascism, communism and bunga bunga, almost at the same time. People who live in that sort of climate can’t afford to be ignorant.
But actually, you don’t need to lack gnosis to fail Ipsos’ test. Framing matters, especially in India, where all data is open to interpretation. For instance, you can get the women’s employment rate wrong if you don’t know how the unorganised sector was evaluated. And in a country where an unknown proportion of the economy is black money, and the government is in the dark about it, how do you quantify the proportion of national value held by the elite? But let us not take this too seriously, because not one of the 33 countries surveyed by Ipsos got it right. If ignorance is a mass global phenomenon, who cares how we rank?