I came across an article about the world happiness index and couldn’t stop laughing when I got to know where India ranked. Any guesses? Ok, wait! Before I let the bomb drop on you it’s important to understand what it means, how it’s calculated and its overall impact on you as a citizen of this great nation.
United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network publishes an annual World Happiness Report containing ranking of national happiness. The concept started in July 2011 by adopting a UN resolution and inviting member nations to measure the happiness of the citizens to formulate effective public policies. The report started getting published in 2012 with the exception of 2014. It outlines happiness levels across the world, underlying causes of misery, reasons for achieved happiness and implications of the failed implementation of the policy.
In other words, it’s one of the ways to determine the progress of a nation as a happy population eventually leads to a happy, healthy and productive country. The report although quite complex in nature is quite subjective in measuring and dealing with issues like mental health, overall happiness, ethics, stability, and change patterns within demography.
The Key Metrics
To give you some insights into the process as a layman, seven World Happiness Reports have been published so far from 2012 – 2019 and data is sourced from Gallup World Poll (an advanced analytics and advice firm) and World Values Survey (a global research project). A questionnaire containing questions pertaining to below listed 14 core areas are presented to the participants from each participating nation and the inputs are meticulously analyzed by experts from the fields of economics, psychology, survey analysis, and national statistics.
- Business & Economic
- Citizen Engagement
- Communications & Technology
- Education & Families
- Emotions (well being)
- Environment & Energy
- Food & Shelter
- Government & Politics
- Law & Order
- Religion & Ethics
And on the basis of the inputs collated in reference to the above-listed points, a six-point approach is formulated to achieve the final rankings.
The decisive 6 points
- GDP per capita
- Life Expectancy
- Social Support Systems
- Trust in Government & Business
- Perceived freedom
Where Do We Rank!
India, since the last decade, has been at the center of world affairs and seen spiraling graphs in key factor statistics. Despite the kind of growth projected to us we have continuously struggled to keep our people happy. A simple representation is the facts and figures right in front of us which have a downward trend in terms of global ranking since the very start.
Year Global Happiness Index Ranking
2014 – –
Shocking to see and hard to believe yet the truth stares right through us. Again there is a multitude of factors which need to be explored to understand the spiraling trends along with the need to draw some productive comparisons as well.
The Winner Takes It All
Finland has claimed the podium finish for the last two years and has proven its consistent performance to factors beyond economic wealth. The Danes believe in concepts of community feeling which reduce the stress of outperforming every other person and the resulting anxiety. Less competition at work and better support for the unemployed have helped them to keep economic disparities within check all this while.
Although economic wealth and GDP markers have no correlation to a nation being happy or progressing, Finland has very smartly turned the tide in its favor in this aspect too. High GDP invites higher taxes but also the subsequent support for social programs. The Government happily bears the educational expenses at both basic as well as higher levels for they trust their workforce to pay generously back.
Education and healthcare are considered to be everyone’s right and not sheer luxuries which reflect in the quality of life and it’s high life expectancy too – 78 for men and 84 for women.
A strong social safety net reassures them of the commitment of their Government towards them and hence they do not fall short in their loyalty towards their nation. Another important aspect which has put Finland at the top of the list is their tireless efforts towards closing the gender gap by each passing year. I believe it’s their quest to achieve an ordinary life with the basics in place and the will to stay happy but not with more which has kept them happy and content unknowingly.
Reality vs Dream
India as a growing, developing nation has indeed achieved a lot on paper for the public to boast and feel proud of but in reality, there is more that is desired than what has been claimed to be achieved. We can keep going about discussing how we so painstakingly freed our nation from years of oppression and slavery and how we are still a very young nation in that aspect. We may also enjoy the banter about our favored political parties and comfortably set about defending one from the other for everything ignored and underachieved. But the reality is omnipresent and harsh to face.
Today despite having a claimed stable economy and growing GDP we still lag behind in something as basic as happiness and our weaker and ill-equipped (except China) neighbors have a much better report card to present.
Country Rank Happiness Index (2019)
India 140 4.015
China 93 5.191
Pakistan 67 5.653
Sri Lanka 130 4.366
Bangladesh 125 4.456
Bhutan 95 5.082
Nepal 100 4.913
The Missing Links
Every solution lies in the problem, only if we have the intent to find it and act upon it. This nation of ours is indeed great in more aspects than we are aware of but the greatness doesn’t come from mythological notions, religious beliefs or simple ignorance towards our basic responsibilities. Every individual along with the representative government is equally responsible and in charge of the situation that we collectively face today. Running away and creating fake facades have brought us down so far and will continue to do so till the time we take the reins and decide for ourselves.
A nation can never term itself as developing whose populous goes through a grind every day in availing even the basic markers such as health and education. The World Happiness Report quotes, “India performed so poorly and its population is so significant that it dragged down the entire global happiness levels.”
The anomalies are so far outstretched in the system that the will and intent get diluted at every level and anyone even trying to bring about the smallest of change is met with stiff resistance.
There is no definite structure and socio-economic inequality holds the precedence all throughout society. According to the World Happiness report, freedom of choice, life expectancy, and generosity were not highly reported values in India. GDP and social support have led to this stalemate which in turn are buried under the immense pressure of the jewel in our crown, our uncontrolled population.
The dangerous concoction of social, political, and economic stresses have numbed our senses and created a state of trans wherein everything seems progressive. As per conservative estimates of Indian Health Ministry (as quoted by The Indian Express), more than 70 million Indians suffer from mental health problems yet there are only one psychiatrist per 2 – 3 lakh people. Is it justified to expect any kind of improvement from a nation where paramount importance is accorded to discussions and arguments about building a temple or a mosque and how a prime minister savors a mango instead of deteriorating levels of life, health, and safety of its citizens?
Awaken The Soul
We are a nation of fashion and trends. What we want has no correlation to what we do to achieve it. Money, some more money and a little more of it have never hurt anyone and we sincerely believe that is the answer to all problems and the key to every paradise we may dream of.
There is neither any sense of belonging nor an iota of humanity upon which we operate and still, we believe in miracles to happen with avatars of imaginary Gods and Goddesses coming to our rescue. God created us as equals and provided for every need but it is for us to embrace the truth and stick to it.
On a practical note, the addiction to measuring growth only by GDP indicators needs to be checked and replaced by more practical and significant factors. We need to understand that The Governments are working for a very small group of rich and
powerful people doing a huge amount of damage to the overall public good. The everyday fight to find everything right needs to to be stopped and replaced by
more sane targets which can energize us rather than draining completely.
The solution to this tragedy is simple and achievable but a massive awakening is the need of the hour. I wrote a detailed post in the past regarding the problems staring at us and the corresponding solutions which will give you clear insights about the action points. Kindly go through it as well and share your feelings and suggestions.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above belong to me in spirit and sense and you may prefer to agree or disagree. I neither intend to disgrace any individual or organization nor influence anyone’s ideology.
The facts and figures have been sourced from the World Happiness Index reports and Wikipedia, links for which are listed below.
Till then keep SMILING and LIVE some more while you can, for there’ll be plenty of time to drag on 🙂 !
Stay tuned for more interesting and thought-provoking posts.