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  • kewal sethi

happiness index

happiness index

much has been made of the report that india is ranked 122nd in  the happiness index. much is also made of the fact that india has dropped down the list by four points. 

but why this hullabaloo about the index. we love to revel in misery. look at the communities claiming to be backward. normally a person, even if unhappy, has a radiant smile when he goes out but we love to show our pique. perhaps the random survey reflected this. and finally, we indians catch at straws to blame the government, especially the modi government. yet no one has, as yet, gone beyond the report. what  the report is based on. the points listed by by the united nations are

1. gdp per capita – 0.792  (qatar 1.871)

2. social support – 0.754  (iceland 1.611)

3. healthy life expectancy – 0.455  (singapore 0.949)

4. freedom to make life chances – 0.470  (norway 0.635)

5. generosity – 0.232  (myanmar 0.838)

6. trust – 0.092  (qatar 0.439)

7. dystopia – 1.591  (somalia 3. 117)

[figure is brackets are for the highest score in that category along with country name]

the overall index is simply the addition of the six indices meaning they are given equal weightage. of considerable interest is the last index viz. dystopia. the dictionary meaning is ’a place where every thing is bad’. its antonym is utopia where every thing is good. so if every thing is bad, you score high which somalia has done. so if you are bad you rise in the happiness index. so somalia is 93rd way ahead of south africa, bhutan, and others. incidentally bhutan, not yet prone to terrorism still has index of 1. 140 whereas rwanda with its history of tribal warfare has 0.540. had this been inverse of the figure, it would have made more sense.

regarding gdp, it is not clear whether the absolute figures are taken or the parity figures which would make a lot of difference. per capita gdp with ppp of india is $5730 whereas absolute figure is $ 1498.

while the life expectancy figures are easily available, the item says healthy life expectancy. this makes a difference. what exactly is meant by healthy life expectancy. it is just a perception. 

so are the other indices based on perception. freedom to make life choices; generosity, trust. each one of them is totally subjective based on random survey (so i think).

the conclusion is that it is all a balderdash. the indices are chosen to suit a particular way of thinking. it has no relation to the reality. like all other indices used by the international agencies, these are also biased.

please discard this canard about low happiness index and be happy.

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