Post Mortem

UN World Happiness Report 2021

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 3/25/2021 1:47:50 PM IST

 The United Nationals released World Happiness Report 2021 on the 19th of March, 2021, issued by the UN Sustainable Development Solution Network on the effects of Covid-19 and how people all over the world have fared. The overarching frame on which the report is based and the aim of the report was twofold: Frist, to focus on the effects of Covid-19 on the structure and quality of people’s lives, and Second, to describe and evaluate how governments all over the world dealt with the pandemic. 

India has secured the 139th spot of 149 countries in the UN World Happiness Report. China ranked 84, Pakistan in 105 and Bangladesh in 101 positions are happier than India. In the previous years, India ranked 144 in 2020 and 140 in the year 2019. The findings and results of the report is based on the Gallup World Poll have been co-related with factors like GDP and social security. Finland is the world’s happiest country according to this survey for the fourth consecutive year, followed by Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland and many others. 

In spite of being on top of the world in economic and military rankings, the United States of America has secured the 19th spot for happiness. This leaves us with a question that unfolds that it is not economy, technology and military strengths alone counts, there are many other factors that determines ‘happiness’. People living in Afghanistan are most unhappy with their lives, followed by Zimbabwe (148), Rwanda (147), Botswana (146) and Lesotho (145). 

Happiness is a comprehensive term that relates to quality of life. This time, the UN report based on Gallup World Poll that co-related GDP and social security. During the time of COVID-19, governments have taken the pandemic in different ways and responded to it in their own ways. So, the agency that conducts the research analysis and evaluates its findings primarily basing its research on how the governments tackled the problems of people during coronavirus underpinning “how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be”.

The data has been collected in the following ways that “There have been in person and telephone samples for India, with the in-person responses being glower than telephone responses, which significantly higher than in-person responses in 2019. Hence, the reversal in 2020 of the longer time slide in Indian life evaluations was not attributable to mode effects.”

The UN Report on Happiness 2021 makes me to wonder as to why as a citizen of India, being part of two-third world being considered to be the largest democracy and the second populous country in the world is in 139 out of 149. Further, I have been pushed a back to find out answers to the following questions: What then is “happiness” after all? What constitutes “happiness”? Why, India is behind China, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the “happiness” ranking? Out of many definitions on “happiness” I have chosen a few that are comprehensive and self-explanatory.

According to a definition “Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfilment.” Though happiness has many definitions that varies, it is often described as involving positive emotions and life satisfaction. However, although happiness is equated with feeling, pleasure or contentment, meaning, but by all means happiness is not to be confused with joy, ecstasy, bliss or other more intense feelings. 

Amidst such a variety of definitions, happiness for me is comprehensive in the following definition that adds more substance to the conception called “happiness”. “Happiness can be either feeling or sharing meaning that happiness is not necessarily an internal or external experience, but can be both.” It is amply proven that it is not just an abstract concept. It is also not just the material aspects that determine the notion of “happiness”. For example, the United States with all the material prosperity, technological advancements and military might is in the 19th slot, which means that material acquisition alone shall never be a determining factor.

It is quality of life that encompasses material and spiritual, psychological and physical, within and outer, individual and communitarian. Put together, all these factors add to happiness. Happiness is always an individual operational category and so it is relational as well. Since it is relational, it is responsible and accountable. So, the conception of happiness has relational responsibility and relational value. If my neighbour lives in poverty and hunger, injustices, oppression and squalid conditions, how can I be happy? 

Happiness is relational in responsibility. Therefore, my neighbours’ happiness is my happiness. As against it, this year the UN seem to have given more weightage to the ways with which governments responded to COVID-19 and how the perception of people. The top slots went to Scandinavian countries. They continue to remain on top because their priority vis-à-vis governments’ as well people are to enhance happiness. 

If individuals, families, communities and society are happy, then the sum total of the country as a whole exposit happiness. Their budgets by and large are not devoted to defence -- procurements of arms and armaments, technological developments, buildings and infrastructures, but on people who should be happy. These governments strive for societal welfare and peoples’ happiness.

India is in 139th position, out of 149 countries. The reasons are numerous and most of us do know why are we in that position. For years we have not made any headway or breakthrough. Our priority and vision are entirely different. The ranking itself connotes that people are not happy. Majority of India’s population live and lead a life engulfed with fear, insecurity, poverty, volatility, despair and apathy. They do not have any future at all. 

In India, during coronavirus the informal workers a huge mass of poor and hapless in millions had to flee fearing life and livelihood. A tiny percent of people and families are happy and enjoy happiness, whereas majority of people do not know what is “happiness”, at all, rather experiencing unhappiness day-in and day-out.When we talk about life that enjoins happiness, it denotes not only qualitative and quantitative dimensions, but goes beyond. Therefore, “happiness” is a wholesome concept that integrates all facets of life.

Dr. John Mohan Razu

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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