Time to put the bubbly back into the fridge. Enthused by the rosy picture of the economy drawn by spokespersons of the establishment and the BJP/NDA government in particular — globally highest GDP growth for the five years past, fantastic albeit unrecorded employment growth in the medium and small-scale industry and self-employment, huge increase in the number of income tax payers and largesse rained upon the rural and farming communities even as our enemies are being shown their place — your editor was all set to celebrate India’s never-so-good quinquennium.
But the global release of the World Happiness Report (WHR) — a scholarly 136-page study of the Ernesto Lily Foundation and United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network — reveals the people of booming India are unhappier than last year.
The 2019 league table, which ranks Finland the world’s happiest country, accords shining India a lowly ranking of #140 out of 156 countries assessed. Over the period 2006-08 to 2016-18 our happiness measured inter alia under the parameters of freedom, incidence of corruption, generosity, GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy, decreased by 1.137 points with only Botswana, war-torn Syria and hyper-inflation and political instability-wracked Venezuela recording greater decreases in the Happiness Index. The clincher: India’s bete noire Pakistan is ranked #67 overall, and the citizens of communist China believe they have greater freedom than we do.
The only crumbs of comfort the allegedly prospering citizens of India can derive from WHR 2019 is that Pakistan is ranked lower on the parameters of per capita GDP (110 cf. India’s 103 and healthy life expectancy, 114 cf. 105). Our other bellicose neighbour China is ranked a higher #93 overall because of high scores on the parameters of GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy. However, our generosity ranking is far superior (65 cf. 133). That’s odd because communists claim they are more giving and sharing. Anyway WHR 2019 doesn’t arouse sufficient enthusiasm to uncork the bubbly.