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World Bank's latest Doing Business 2017 ranking has pegged India at 130th rank out of 190 countries. This is an improvement of one measly rank over last year. This change, too, came about just because India's rank in DB2016 was revised downward to 131. But this rank only tells a part of the story since economies are graded over 41 indicators ranging 10 topics. As such, a better picture emerges if one sees not just the rank but also the range over which an economy performs. As shown in Chart 1, economies with a higher rank and a smaller variation across parameters would be considered better. For instance, while India's overall rank is lower than that of Belize, there are several parameters where Belize is considerably worse off. Barring few exception, the variation increases as the averages falter - Venezuela is a good example.
Chart 2 shows the key reason for India not doing worse than last year. Over the past three years, getting electricity in Delhi, one of the two Indian cities that is mapped, has become easier both in terms of time and money. But last year's fall has been quite spectacular. India has also improved on the broader topic of protecting minority investors, which measures aspects such as the protection of shareholders against directors' misuse of corporate assets for personal gain and the rights and role of shareholders in corporate governance. Thanks to an overhaul of the Companies Act in 2013, India's score increased in three of the six indices, as shown in Chart 3.
However, like in any index or in the real world of business, it is the relative progress that matters.
Chart 4 shows some of the best-performing economies as measured by Doing Business in 2015-16. India does not figure in the long list of 10 such economies but a look at some of the names suggests that there is no reason for India to remain a laggard.