No, Amartya Sen Did Not Compare Sri Lanka And India In World Happiness, Global Hunger Indices; Viral Claim Is False

Dr Sen has compared India on the basis of social indicators, such as education and healthcare. In his 2013 book, along with Jean Drèze, he compared the per capita GDP and the growth rates of the per capita GDP of the two countries. Sen has not compared Sri Lanka and India based on the World Happiness Index, Global Hunger Index and the so-called “GDP Index”.

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On July 21, amid the ongoing Srilankan crisis, Ranil Wickremesinghe replaced the former President of Srilanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Many experts have pinned the blame for the ongoing crisis on Rajapaksa. The failing economy in Sri Lanka led to widespread outrage and protests, following which Rajapaksa fled the country. Read this article by The Logical Indian on the Sri Lankan crisis here to know more about the place.

Meanwhile, an image showing Nobel laureate Dr Amartya Sen along with text mockingly claiming that he "correctly predicted Sri Lanka's prominence over India in terms of Happiness, Hunger and GDP index".

Claim:

The image shows a picture of Dr Amartya Sen along with the following claims, "Sri Lanka is ahead of India in happiness index, Sri Lanka is doing far better than India in Hunger Index. Sri Lanka has done better than India in the GDP index too". It is implied that Dr Sen has made these claims.

Twitter user, Arey Bangdu, shared the tweet with the following claim.

The same claim is viral with different graphics.


Some users have quoted Sen's 2013 book, 'An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions' as the source for the claim.

The post is viral across Facebook as well.

The Logical Indian received several messages on our WhatsApp fact check no. +91-6364000343 requesting to fact check the claim.

Screengrabs of a request received on the TLI WhatsApp fact check number

Fact Check:

The Logical Indian fact check team verified the viral claim and found it to be misleading. Sen has not compared Sri Lanka and India based on the World Happiness Index, Global Hunger Index and the so-called "GDP Index".

We first conducted a keyword search to understand how India stands as compared to Sri Lanka in terms of the World Happiness Report, Global Hunger Index and 'GDP Index.'

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a peer-reviewed annual report, which is published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe. GHI is designed to measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels.

We found that Sri Lanka has been ranked above India for over nine consecutive years from 2013 to 2021 on GHI. On its website, GHI states that, "It is important to note that GHI scores, rankings, and indicator values are comparable only within each year's report, not between different years' reports, owing to revisions of the source data and methodology."

The World Happiness Reports are published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, sourced through the Gallup World Poll data. As per the World Happiness Reports, Sri Lanka was ranked higher than India in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, whereas India was ranked higher than Sri Lanka in 2013 and 2015.

For the third term, we could not find an established GDP index which compares the Gross Domestic Product between countries. The difference between GDP or GDP per capita is not clarified in the claims.

Following this, we conducted several keyword searches for the comparison made by Sen between India and Sri Lanka on the basis of GHI or World Happiness, but we could find no reliable reports.

We then conducted a keyword search for the comments made by Dr Sen in his book, 'An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions.' We came across an India Today article which contained excerpts from the book.

The excerpt contained the following quote regarding India's social indicators compared to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.

In terms of social indicators, "India now looks second worst (ahead only of problem-ridden Pakistan). India has been climbing up the ladder of per capita income while slipping down the slope of social indicators.", the excerpt reads.

Image Credit: India Today

The authors state that inspite of improvement in per capita income and rate of expansion, India's rank has worsened in many cases in terms of social indicators.

Image Credit: India Today

The authors compare the education system in Sri Lanka and India stating that private schools are virtually absent in the island nation and "have in fact been prohibited since the 1960s". The authors also remark that, "A similar remark applies to the fact that in Sri Lanka 'few people live more than 1.4 km away from the nearest health centre".

Image Credit: India Today

The authors rank the South Asian and East Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and India in terms of life expectancy, literacy rate and Female Literacy Rate.


On page 210 of the book, the authors Send and Jean Dreze have noted the growth rates of the Gross Domestic Product and State Domestic Product of several countries including India and Sri Lanka.

As can be seen here, India had higher growth rates as compared to Sri Lanka from 1980-81 to 1990-91. Sri Lanka's growth rate was at 2.4 and India 3.1. From 2000-01 to 2010-11 (Sri Lanka- 4.5 and India-5.9), the two countries had the same value during 1990-91 to 2000-01.

In our Fact Check, we also came across a Business Standard article published on July 12, 2018. At the book launch function of the Hindi edition of his book with Dreze, Sen is quoted as saying that 20 years ago among India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, India was the second best after Sri Lanka in terms of various social indicators.

Sen reportedly said, "Now, it is the second worst. Pakistan has managed to shield us from being the worst."

Image Credit: Business Standard

Conclusion:

We found that Dr Sen has compared India on the basis of social indicators, such as education and healthcare. In his 2013 book, along with Jean Drèze, he compared the per capita GDP and the growth rates of the per capita GDP of the two countries.

However, as the viral claims have suggested, Sen has not compared Sri Lanka and India based on the World Happiness Index, Global Hunger Index and the so-called "GDP Index". Sen has not compared India and Sri Lanka directly since at least 2018, as per our Fact Check. Thus, we can ascertain that a false claim is being made involving Dr Sen within the ongoing Sri Lankan crisis.

If you have any news that you believe needs to be fact-checked, please email us at factcheck@thelogicalindian.com or WhatsApp at 6364000343.

Also Read: Muslims Protested Against Appointment Of Alleppey District Collector Because He Is Brahmin? No, Video Viral With False Communal Claim

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Editor : Bharat Nayak
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Creatives : Jakir Hassan

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