The United Nations World Happiness Report 2021

Happier people tend to be more social, but then, given the times of the recent pandemic, this has become almost an impossible task. With life going through so many changes where people are forced into solitary confinement, this can be quite unsettling. Moreover, with the stiff financial challenges that so many are facing, happiness is a subject that seriously needs to be talked about. There’s no denying the fact the global lockdown has taken a toll on mental health.

World Happiness Report 2021

Many have resorted to the likes of the internet, which offers a wealth of information and knowledge and can also help combat feelings of isolation and low mood, and also provides an insight into what governments and businesses can get up to. 

Instead of the pandemic, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations released the World Happiness Report 2021, just a day before the International Happiness Day. This year it emphasizes the effects of Covid-19 and how people all over the world have fared.

World Happiness Report 2021:

The World Happiness Report is a basic report based on the research spread across 149 countries and ranks them according to how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. Especially during these tough times surrounding covid. The rankings were based on polling (Gallup World Poll) which looks at set six variables:

    • Gross Domestic Product Per Capita (Purchasing Power Parity). It demarcates the prosperity that a certain country has to offer and how well it’s leading its state during these tough times. 
  • Social Support- Humans are termed as social beings for a reason. People are dependent on social support from their loved ones, families, peers, colleagues, and so on. Social support gives a boost to the mental wellbeing of an individual. Social support helps to reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and isolation. 
  • It also plays a crucial role in promoting our self-esteem, normality, wellbeing, and quality of life – while an absolute lack of social support has the contrary effect. Social distancing being a norm for the vulnerable groups during this pandemic has made people focus more on how to support each other more during this pandemic. 
  • Healthy life expectancy at birth- 

Healthy life expectancy at birth is an indicator of health conditions, which encompasses the impacts of mortality and morbidity.

Freedom to make life choices.- Though not much thought is given to the freedom that we have in our everyday lives, the Covid has made us focus on what we had and never valued. The freedom to make life choices freely is one of them. The freedom to make our own life choices is liberating and grants us a chance to be as close as we can to being the person that we want to become. This is a fundamental pillar in ensuring one’s wellbeing. 

    • Generosity: Being generous makes us feel better about ourselves and the world we live in. Generosity is a natural confidence booster and a repellant of self-hatred. Generosity during the times of covid is more essential as it helps others not as entitled as us get some sort of much-needed help. While we, in return, can feel better about ourselves as there’s nothing more surreal than lifting one’s fellow human beings. 
  • Perceptions of corruption- There are socio-demographic variables that determine the perceptions of corruption. It is to be taken into account that the countries with the lowest corruption rates are the happiest. 

Respondents are asked to rate their own current lives on a scale of 0-10.

Top Performers:

  • The notable performances of various countries were evaluated. Finland has been ranked as the happiest country in the world for the fourth consecutive year.
  • The list follows other countries, namely Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, and Norway.

Worst Performers:

  • Afghanistan (149) was recorded to be the unhappiest country.
  • Afghanistan was followed by Zimbabwe (148), Rwanda (147), Botswana (146), and Lesotho (145).

A look into the scale of India’s Neighbours:

  • Pakistan-105.
  • Bangladesh-101.
  • China-84.

India status:

  • India has been ranked 139 out of 149 countries evaluated. The country saw a steady rise in its ranking as in the past year of 2020, India was ranked 144 out of 156 countries surveyed.
  • The aim behind the survey was two-fold. The first was to focus on how people have fared during the time of the pandemic and how much progress has been made in the lives of individuals living across various nations.
  • There have been both in-person and telephone surveys from the whole of India. 

Dominant reasons behind India gaining such a low rank of the happiness meter :

  • There have been many factors surrounding India that have resulted in the country’s Chronic unhappiness. The reasons range from urbanization, congestion in cities, lack of basic requirements, lack of food and shelter, security and water safety, rise in health care costs, environmental pollution, women’s safety, poor mental wellbeing, unemployment, and so on. 
  • The annual index is known to rank nations based on a variety of parameters like gross domestic product per person, social support, personal freedom, levels of corruption, healthy life expectancy, and opinions of residents.
  • There has been a slight improvement from last year, where India was ranked 144th. It is to be taken into notice that the country hasn’t been performing well on the index released by the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network. There was a noticeable slip into the country’s ranking as it began slipping from 111th, its recent high in 2013. 

How to help the masses in the country to be happier : 

  • The former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee had improvised certain plans in 2018 after India dropped to 133rd place on the index. He had advised policymakers to adopt the ‘triple-bottom line’ analysis framework. This would help the nation focus on social, environmental/ecological, and financial development to improve the overall citizens’ happiness.
  • The quest for happiness is closely tied to the quest for sustainable development. Many socioeconomic factors go into helping the country gain overall happiness. There’s a combination of social inclusion and environmental sustainability. There needs to be a narrowing of vision that focuses on economic development. Though, as a nation, India may have given a better GDP and increase in per capita income, it is also to be taken into account that economic forwardness is never the only parameter of measuring happiness.
  • There must be more focus shifted to major issues like environmental sustainability, social welfare, emotional and mental wellbeing of the citizens. All of these taken into account can dramatically increase India’s chances of acing the happiness index.

Some unorthodox ways of making India a happier country :

  • Minimum wages for every Indian. A lot can be learned on this topic through the UK, USA, and other western countries that have implemented it. India must improvise these laws under the improvised National Minimum Wages Act and make the employers follow it strictly. This will be highly beneficial towards the country’s development in many ways, and there shall be chances to eradicate poverty to a great extent and help people to push themselves out of the poverty line. 
  • India as a country should focus more on the green revolution. India is supposed to be a Green India; however, one can not deny the alarming speed of deforestation. The more nature vanishes, the more shall include other aspects like isolation, mental health issues, and so on. The lack of forests also means that there’s an increase in pollution, lack of rain and a lot more. 
  • Decentralization of power. The power dynamics when it comes to politics can play an important role. The local village or panchayat or colony or ward knows which is the best decision for them in terms of electricity/roads/farming/dams. They should be given fair power of judgment and decision-making. Centralizing it is like trying to “fit one size for all.” Also, the distribution of power shall help reduce corruption as funds are not centralized in one place. 
  • Judiciary and women’s safety: The judiciary needs some hierarchy done to its scheme. There are many pending cases, and the manpower isn’t enough. Also, with regards to women’s safety, more stringent laws should be put into action. The accused must receive just-full punishment, and it should be made mandatory for justice to be served. 
  • There must be dignity for every work. No work must be deemed small or big. Any person who decides to work to pay off their daily living demands respect no matter what occupation that they dive into. The dignity of labor is basic antiquities that can help human beings prosper beyond set boundaries.
  •  Job opportunities- India is a country of the youth where job vacancies are sparse, resulting in very serious issues related to unemployment. Major steps must be taken to help the country’s youth prosper, as only if the country has a high employment rate, then can it guarantee a secure and prosperous future for its youth. 
  • Efficient and cost-effective health care shall also play a crucial role in uplifting the happiness index of the country. 


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