The Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) is an autonomous multi-disciplinary public research organisation that has been ranked the best think tank in Bangladesh and the 104th-best in the world.
This ranking was published in the 14th edition of the University of Pennsylvania's "Global Go To Think Tank Index" (GGTTI) report released on Thursday.
"This is not a surprise for us at all, as BIDS has been appearing in the global ranking for the last few years. The University of Pennsylvania has kept our rating unchanged at 104th position like the last year," BIDS Director General Dr KAS Murshid said in an instant reaction on Friday.
With such scores in global rating, BIDS stands out alone among economic and development research institutions in the region, including those in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, he told The Business Standard.
"One thing we need to point out is that we work with limited resources. We have less manpower than similar think-tanks in Asia," Murshid said.
Despite being a government organisation, BIDS works independently and this is also an important factor for its achievement, he added.
The study also ranked BIDS 26th in the Top International Development Policy Think Tanks category. The Institute for Policy, Advocacy and Governance (IPAG) ranked 42nd, while the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) was ranked 89th in the same category.
In the Best Government-Affiliated Think Tank category, BIDS and the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) – two state-owned autonomous national research institutes and think tanks – were ranked 28th and 48th, respectively. In the same category, The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) was on top.
Also, in the category of Top Think Tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Region, BIDS placed 17th, while BIISS ranked 23rd. This was followed by: the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) at 30th, the Institute for Policy, Advocacy, and Governance (IPAG) at 34th, Alternative Development Initiative (ADI) at 49th, and CPD at 54th.
The 2019 GGTTI report maintains the largest, most comprehensive database of more than 8,248 think tanks across the globe. It ranks them in multiple categories and selects them according to rigorous criteria.
According to the report, 3,974 journalists, policymakers, public and private donors – plus functional and regional-area specialists across the globe – participated in the process.
Thirty-six think tanks from Bangladesh participated in the ranking, and BIDS retained its top placement among Bangladeshi think tanks this year.
The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) – which specialises in the research of rice production – and CPD are listed as the top food security think tanks in the Bangladesh category.
Brac, the world's largest non-governmental organisation, is the only organisation from Bangladesh named in the Top Social Policy Think Tanks, in the world, at the 24th place.
Brac also ranked 75th in the Best Use of Social Media and Networks – with IPAG ranking 83rd on that list.
IPAG, one of the youngest non-governmental international think tanks in Bangladesh, placed in four of Bangladesh's categories: Top Energy and Resource Policy Think Tanks at 46th, Think Tank to Watch in 2019 at 27th, Think Tanks with the Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program at 71st, and Think Tanks with the Most Innovative Policy Ideas/Proposals at 16th.
The report said that though the numbers of think tanks is growing worldwide, some crucial challenges they confront remain.
"The challenge for the new millennium is to harness the vast reservoir of knowledge, information, and associational energy – that exist in public policy research organisations – so that it supports self-sustaining economic, social, and political progress in every region of the world for public good," read the report.