India has always taken pride in being an inclusive country, a country that is kind to others. Both the government and citizens always defend the flaws in the country’s infrastructure and governance by using this argument that we may not be the best in those things, but nobody can beat us when it comes to kindness.
There are songs made for that. Remember Purab aur Paschim‘s famous song’s Hai Preet Jaha ki Reet’s line “Jeete hai kisi ne desh toh kya, humne toh dilo ko jeeta hai” (so what if other countries have conquered countries, we have conquered hearts).
But turns out that even that one thing in which Indians take so much pride may not be true as suggested by the Kindness to Strangers Index.
India Performs Poorly In Kindness To Strangers Index
The index measures the probability of people from a country doing small acts of kindness to strangers selflessly. It is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study involved 8,354 participants from 34 countries to assess their social mindfulness which, as per them, varies with the geography.
What is social mindfulness, you ask? It refers to being aware of how our decisions affect the choices of people around us.
Do our decisions limit or eliminate the choices of others? Or do they accommodate others’ needs as well? Social mindfulness is an indirect indicator of people’s attitude towards people who are marginalized.
“At little to no material cost, social mindfulness typically entails small acts of attention or kindness. Even though fairly common, such low-cost cooperation has received little empirical attention… Our findings add to the body of knowledge about prosociality by focusing on the type of daily cooperation that is more concerned with communicating benevolence than with giving pecuniary advantages,” said the report.
India, unfortunately, was among the lowest ranking countries in this index. Japan ranked number 1, followed by Austria, Mexico, Israel, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland. Countries with better general performance or better environmental protections conditions have performed better.
Religious values, level of confidence in strangers, education levels, economic levels, etc are some factors that may explain the order of this list. More research is required for concrete results. As for now, the researchers do not want to make any value judgments out of these rankings.
Is India Truly Unkind To Strangers?
Well, there are arguments both for and against this. Let’s talk about the former first. In 2020, India ranked very low in the Migrant Integration Policy Index. This index rates the country on the basis of how inclusive they are of migrants. India scored only 24 out of 100, much below average.
The World Giving Index is another index that is considered as one of the leading studies into global generosity. In 2015, India was ranked 106th and slipped to 124th position in 2018.
But jump to 2021, India ranked 14th in the World Giving Index. This is attributed to people’s willingness to help others during the pandemic in any way possible. We really saw people, especially the youth, helping their fellow citizens selflessly.
But of late, we have seen growing polarization and intolerance too. Intolerance towards minorities is a major issue that we are struggling with. It kind of explains the reason for the poor ranking in the Kindness to Strangers index.
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