To improve India’s happiness ranking, learn from the states

Low position in global list may also be due to intra-country heterogeneity: looking at a state-level shows what needs to be done

Payal Seth and Palakh Jain | March 26, 2022


#Happiness   #World Happiness Report   #society   #economy  
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)

The World Happiness Report 2022 ranks India at 136th position, or tenth from the bottom of the list. Among 146 countries, Finland tops the list, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Luxemburg, according to the report released recently. India’s performance created a stir as it was widely criticized by the opposition parties. They attributed the low ranking to growing poverty, unemployment, and diminishing social harmony. While the cross-country comparison does pose a grim picture, it is also pertinent to note that this masks the intra-country heterogeneity. For a country as diverse as India, we delve deeper to understand the state-wise ranking (from India’s happiness report in 2020) and what lessons one could learn from it.

Did you know that according to India’s Happiness report 2020, Uttar Pradesh is a happier state than Tamil Nadu and West Bengal is a happier state than Goa? India’s happiness report was prepared between March 2020 and July 2020. Its relevance gains further traction now because the lessons learned from the happier states can be applied to improve India’s current happinessworld ranking. According to the report, Mizoram is the highest-ranked state, followed by Punjab and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. India’s least happy state is Chhattisgarh, followed by Uttarakhand and Odisha.

India’s happiness survey subsumes six sub-components: work-related measures like income and growth; family relations and friendship; philanthropy; physical and mental health; religious or spiritual affiliation; and COVID-19’s impact on happiness. (These components are also similar to the world’s happiness report: levels of GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, and corruption.) This makes it easier for us to analyze why certain states topped the charts while the otherslagged behind.

So what makes Mizoram the happiest state in India? According to the headmaster of the Governement Mizo High School in Aizwal, there is a distinct culture of education. The state has 100% literacy. The students, like other states, are ambitious but do not view their peers as competitors, which develops the culture of teamwork. It allows the students to be happier for others from a very young age. The parental pressure on children for education is negligible. The youth also joins the labour market fairly early after completion of studies from high school, which allows them to be financially responsible. Mizoram is also well-known for not discriminating based on caste or gender. A caste-less environment helps unite the society. The egalitarian nature of the state along with the pride that the Mizoram citizens take in their culture and traditions, all contribute towards their happiness.

Similarly, Punjab also has some exceptional qualities, making it the second-highest ranked state. Punjab has one of the highest state GDPs in India. A higher fraction of well-off people directly correlates to happier people. But there are other important reasons as well. Punjab as a community also imbibes its unique values from the Sikh religion which believes in giving and serving people. The Punjabi communities through an extensive network of gurudwaras (the place of worship for Sikhs) prepares and feeds free meals for any person visiting the gurudwaras and works on the value that no one should sleep hungry. The values that foster respect for humanity as well as seek to feed its citizens as a joint responsibility of the community plays a major role in boosting the morale of the people and their happiness.

Among bigger states, Gujarat ranks number three. Gujarat boasts of the most advanced industrialization and infrastructure in India. Also, the state has one of the lowest unemployment rates. Higher incomes and employment opportunities directly correlate to higher happiness. When people find gainful and meaningful employment, they feel a sense of pride that they are contributing to the development of the state, and are, subsequently, happier. Gujarat is also one of the safest states in India. This sense of safety and security also contributes to the mental peace and happiness of its residents.

The short-term objective of such reports is to create more interest in the topic and generate wider platforms for discussion on happiness. However, there is a long-term aim as well. The happiness of the citizens is crucial to the economic growth of a country as studies have found that happy people are more productive. Hence, this information can aid policymakers to design specific policies for attaining happier societies. A deeper understanding of India’s state-wise ranking is the first step to learning lessons to create a happier India, and help move up the rankings on the world’s happiness survey.

Payal Seth is a PhD scholar, and Palakh Jain is an associate professor, at Bennett University.

 

Comments

 

Other News

A great literary feast (that could’ve been even more sumptuous)

A Case of Indian Marvels: Dazzling Stories from the Country’s Finest Writers Edited by David Davidar Aleph, 390 pages, Rs 999 Change is the only constant, and India has always been doing so. Yet, after independence, if there was a year when the p

Govt e-Marketplace sellers report more business

“My volume of business has increased ever since I registered on GeM (Government e-Marketplace) in 2017. Earlier, I could supply items only in the vicinity of my shop in Fort area and only within Mumbai. Now, I ship my products all over the country! I have tied up with India Post and three private cou

How the Hindi Newspaper Business Changed

The Journey of Hindi Language Journalism in India: From Raj to Swaraj and Beyond By Mrinal Pande Orient BlackSwan, 188 pages, Rs 1,195.00 In India, the English-language media is considered the ‘national media’, while the language press

More reforms in telecom sector in offing: Ashwini Vaishnaw

The telecom sector in the country will witness more reforms in the coming years, minister for communications, electronics & IT and railways Ashwini Vaishnaw has said. He also asserted that the industry too will have to do its bit and reciprocate by improving quality of service significantly.

Left-wing extremism: challenges and response

Left-wing extremism is in existence right from India’s independence, but it became prominent in 1967 under the name of Naxalism. The nomenclature of this movement has changed from time to time and place to place depending upon the leadership. Before 2014 more than 15 states were facing this problem w

Agri Min organises events ahead of International Year of Millets 2023

A series of pre-launch events and initiatives have been organised by the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare on the MyGov platform in the run-up to the International Year of Millets 2023 to create awareness and a sense of participation in the country  around the ancient and forgotten golden

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter