Ease of Living Index – Fabulous or Flawed?

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Government's effort to come out with a city-wise Ease of Living Index is appreciable but do know why this ranking is covered with a shadow of unblemished picture.

With the advent of the 21st era, Indian suburbs have witnessed unprecedented growth. People from rural areas have moved into well-curated societies to form cities that are developed like never before.

Have you ever wondered where does your city stand in the ranking among others when it comes to development and ease of living?

InvestXP attempts to make you aware of the latest ‘Ease of Living Index’ ranking issued by the government for 111 Indian cities. The Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry released the results of its survey on the Ease of Living in cities across the country.

How is the ranking system created?

The results seem to appear perfect at first look – taking into account all the important factors – institutional (governance), social (identity, education, health, security), economic (economy, employment) and physical (supply, transport etc.).

As it is with other statistical data, this ranking is also not untouched with flaw and imperfection. This measure is not only replete with many flaws but also fails in taking stock of the living conditions of people.

Ease of Living Index ranks Pune at the top followed by Navi Mumbai.
Source: Business Insider

Pune is ranked the highest of the 111 cities in the Ease of Living Index while Patna is among the worst cities in terms of economic prospects, according to the Ease of Living Index rankings. In terms of safety and security, Bengaluru is among the worst, the Ease of Living report suggests. Delhi stands at lower than expected rank – 65th.

Has the government failed to issue a true ranking report?

In an endeavour to issue a city-wise ranking in line with World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business, the government has failed at many fronts that need to be considered for justification of ranking. The various parameters that have not been taken into consideration fail to inspire confidence. It raises more questions than it answers.

  • The Ease of Living Index released says more about the scarcity of data rather than the poor performance of cities.
  • Some cities scored a zero on certain parameters because there was no data collected at that level, to begin with.
  • Therefore, the data-driven approach of the Ease of Living index is an impetus for accountability and optimal resource allocation.
  • The data is based on information from the 2011 Census.
  • The Ease of Living Index rankings is based on 79 indicators, which are grouped under four “pillars”: institutional, social, economic, and physical. Physical services, which include housing, water supply, sanitation, etc., are allotted the highest weight (45%) in determining the city rankings. Economy and employment are together assigned a mere 5% weight.

    Ease of Living Index is built on four pillars providing different areas with different weight.
    Source: Business Insider
  • The main source of data for the computation of the Ease of Living index involved secondary data, which was collated by city governments from various sources. The index has failed to shed new light on the living conditions of the people, as it based its findings on secondary data in the form of old reports collected from municipal corporations of cities and other agencies.

Cities such as Ludhiana, Srinagar, Bengaluru, Delhi, and Amritsar fare far better in livability in comparison with the Ease of Living Index ranks. A lot of the cities on the list, including the national capital of New Delhi that came in 65th, attained poor scores due to the lack of data. Pune, which topped the index, has its residents complaining about a crumbling public transport system.

What’s the key takeaway then?

The government needs to look into issuing such rankings with a better-backed quality data to keep the confidence of general public else we could witness days wherein any reliable data by department officials would be considered piece of crap by citizens.

Author | Kshitij Chitransh