All of India's neighbours are happier than India, according to a UN report


India came in at 133rd out of 156 countries in the UN’s World Happiness Report for 2018. The annual report, which is authored by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, ranked India 122nd last year and 118th the year before that.

India was outranked by all of its neighbours in the latest report -- Sri Lanka (116), Bangladesh (115), Nepal (101) Bhutan (97), China (86) and surprisingly, Pakistan (75), which had the highest ranking in the Indian subcontinent. In fact, the only other countries in Asia that scored lower than India were war-torn Afghanistan (145), Syria (150) and Yemen (151). Globally, the list was topped by Finland, while Norway and Denmark came in at second and third, respectively.

The report primarily assesses a country on six different variables that are deemed to correlate with happiness -- income per person, life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity, perception of corruption and social support. Of these, only two variables, GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy, can be easily calculated.

Since the remaining variables are qualitative in nature, they are largely determined through Gallup surveys of around 2000 to 3000 residents of each country for the preceding three years. The seventh variable, dystopia, measures a country’s performance on each of the six factors against a hypothetical country with the lowest national averages of each.

The idea of national happiness gained prominence after the prime minister of Bhutan, which came in at 97th on this year’s list, highlighted the concept of a gross domestic happiness index to the United Nations in July 2011. The first UN-sponsored World Happiness Report was subsequently released in 2012.

While India hasn’t experimented with the measurement of gross national happiness, the state of Madhya Pradesh did establish a ministry of happiness in 2016 which was mainly tasked with running programmes for community service, volunteerism and psychological counselling. However, the state’s mandate to spread happiness was dealt a huge blow in December last year, when the minister for happiness, Lal Singh Arya, was found to be a suspect in the murder of an opposition politician in 2009.
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