Out of 156 nations, India stands at 133, behind Pakistan and Nepal, according to the World Happiness Index.
The World Happiness Index takes into account six parameters which are per capita GDP, healthy life-expectancy, freedom, trust, social support, and generosity. India indeed has made strides with economic growth, but the happiness of a country doesn’t depend on its economy alone. For a country as enormous as India, with so much diversity, happiness depends on multiple dimensions. Personally, it’s hard to digest the fact that we are ranked below countries like Pakistan and Nepal. The sample size of the survey and the understanding of the intricacies of Indian society do leave scope for bias. However, this should not stop us from examining the reasons that make India such an unhappy nation.
To begin with, the very first issue that pops up in my mind is corruption and its all-pervasive nature. This has resulted in deep-rooted lack of trust between citizens and the state machinery. The administration is riddled with corruption which has translated into low quality services, denying us even our most basic rights in a democratic nation. This coupled with poverty has led to a sense of dissatisfaction and alienation among the people, especially in the lower strata of our society.
According to Article 21 of the Constitution of India, citizens have a right to life and personal liberty. But do we really? If we delve deep into the life of the average Indian, they are constantly juggling between the modern democratic setup and an archaic social setup. We boast of having a rich demographic dividend while also leading as the most depressed country in the world. There is a steady rise in mental health disorders among youngsters, owing to their constant struggle with poverty, unemployment, a huge generation gap, and, of course, a conservative social setup. With the State and society constantly encroaching on the rights of the individual, isn’t freedom a privilege (rather than the right) of a fortunate few who are socially, politically and economically well off?
When we talk about the overall well-being of the citizens of a country, the way its women are treated cannot be ignored. The alarmingly high rate of crimes committed against women, coupled with the patriarchal nature of Indian society, is petrifying. Despite the large amount of work women do to support their families, their contribution is taken for granted, and their rights are limited denying them real any social, political, and economic empowerment.
India has a population of 1.3 billion people, divided into multiple cultures, religions, communities, tribes, and more. We should also consider that everyone has their own perception of happiness,; but of course, factors like social support, health, education, and the standard of living affect each and every individual equally to some extent. India as a country has come a long way since Independence. Everything is not dark and gloomy. Yet the need of the hour is for the state and society to ensure that the development is not lopsided, and it benefits every section of citizens equally, making happiness universal in a real sense.