India ranks behind Pakistan and Iraq on the World Happiness Index. Why is India unhappy?

4th Jul 2015
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Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Looks like we Indians are going wrong, somewhere. India ranks 117th in the World Happiness Index, behind strife torn countries like Iraq and Ukraine. What makes India an unhappy nation? How are countries qualified on the basis of happiness? Let’s find out!


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  • What is the World Happiness Report?
  • The World Happiness Report is a measure of happiness published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The first World Happiness Report was published in support of the April 2, 2012 United Nations High Level Meeting on Happiness and Well-being. The geography of happiness is presented first by means of a map using 10 different colours to show how average 2012-2014 life evaluations differ across the world. Average life evaluations, here 0 represents the worst possible life and 10 the best possible, range from an average above 7.5 at the top of the rankings to below 3 at the bottom. A difference of four points in average life evaluations separates the 10 happiest countries from the 10 least happy countries. Three-quarters of the differences among countries, and also among regions, are accounted for by differences in six key variables, each of which digs into a different aspect of life. The six factors are GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support (as measured by having someone to count on in times of trouble), trust (as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business), perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity (as measured by recent donations, adjusted for differences in income). Differences in social support, incomes and healthy life expectancy are the three most important factors, with their relative importance depending on the comparison group chosen. (Source: World Happiness Report 2015)
  • Why is India unhappy?
  • The World Happiness index takes into account factors like GDP per capita, social support of having someone to count on in times of trouble, freedom to make life choices, healthy life expectancy, generosity and perceptions of corruption. Seems like half the question is answered, isn’t it?
  • As I dug deeper into finding out why we are unhappy as a nation, I happened to stumble upon a host of disturbing facts and statistics:
  • A 13 year analysis of Crime Data reveals there is one rape every 30 minutes in India
  • One in five cases of honour killing internationally every year comes from India (United Nations)
  • The rate of malnutrition cases among children in India is almost five times more than in China and twice than in Sub-Saharan Africa (The World Bank Report)
  • 12 million children spend their childhood at work and not in a classroom (Census 2011)
  • 270 million persons live below the Tendulkar Poverty Line (NSSO Survey 2013)
  • In addition to these startling facts, the scams and controversies which keep popping up every other day are only adding to the misery.

How does the rest of the world fare?

Switzerland has been named the happiest country in the world, followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Canada and others. Many national leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Ruler of Dubai are talking about the importance of well-being as a guide for their nations. The UAE has made happiness and well-being central tenets of the design and delivery of the National Agenda “… to be the happiest of all nations.” The state of Jaliscoin, Mexico has made happiness a key state objective. The City of Santa Monica, in California, won a large foundation grant to survey and search for ways of improving to help guide and measure the progress towards the SDGs. (World Happiness Report). On the other hand, countries like Togo, Syria and Chad are among the least happy nations.

What we need to do?

Our so called ‘resistance’ to a lot of mishaps occurring around us has often been misquoted as ‘strength’ and this is exactly where we are going wrong. We need to take note, speak up and not ‘resist’. While it’s alright to be resilient, the onus lies upon each of us to make the quality of living better for both ourselves and those around us. This along with changes in our public policies can go a long way in improving our quality of life. The rank however is only a number, do good every day,be intolerant towards injustice and follow public discipline, because happiness like everything else, is a result of your own deeds.

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