For the third year in a row, Kerala is the best-governed State in the country, according to the Public Affairs Index (PAI) 2018 announced by think tank Public Affairs Centre (PAC).

"Kerala has topped the Public Affairs Index (PAI) for 2018 as the best-governed State for the third consecutive year since 2016 among large states," said Bengaluru-based PAC on Saturday (21 July).

Issued annually since 2016, the index measures governance performance in the States through a data-based framework, ranked them on social and economic development that they can afford.

Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat followed Kerala among the top five states achieved good governance, according to the report.

Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar ranked the lowest on the PAI, showing higher social and economic inequalities in the States.

“Public Affairs Index (PAI) is a data driven platform to rank the 30 States of India from the lens of governance. While it is a complex task to rank the Indian states which are economically, culturally and socially so diverse, Public Affairs Centre (PAC) has developed PAI as a unique statistical tool to evaluate the performance of governance in the States. PAI is largely based on secondary data and has been extracted from Union Government Ministries and Departments,” PAC said.

Among smaller states where the population is less than two crores, Himachal Pradesh topped the list, followed by Goa, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura which numbered among the best five states with good governance. Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya were listed at the bottom of the index among small states.

The think tank has undertaken the study across all the Indian states considering them across 10 themes such as essential infrastructure, support to human development, social protection, women and children as well as law and order.

For this ranking, the states were divided into two categories, large and small by their population. States including more than two crore population were considered as larger states.

A total of 30 essential subjects and 100 indicators were measured to derive the PAI, relying solely upon government data. The PAC told it was not keen to access private data sources that may be interpreted as "biased".