India slipped to 140th place in the The World Happiness Report (WHR) index - Seeker's Thoughts

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India slipped to 140th place in the The World Happiness Report (WHR) index

The World Happiness Report (WHR) 2019 ranked 156 countries. India obtained 140th place in the index dropping seven places from 133 last year.

This year’s World Happiness Report focuses on happiness and the community: how happiness has evolved over the past dozen years, with focus on the technologies, social norms, conflicts and government policies that have driven those changes.

Who releases World Happiness Report?

World Happiness Report (WHR) 2019 is released by UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

The top three countries are Finland, Denmark and Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands.

Pakistan is ranked 67th, Bangladesh 125th and China is place at 93rd, according to the report.

People in war-torn South Sudan are the unhappy with their lives, followed by Central African Republic (155), Afghanistan (154), Tanzania (153) and Rwanda (152).

The happiness study ranks the countries of the world on the basis of questions from Gallup world poll. The results are then correlated with other factors, including GDP and social security.

United States ranks at 19th place for happiness, despite being one of the richest countries in the world.

It is based on income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. While India’s performance on this can be attributed to several factors, there is a fact that there is an intrinsic relationship between law and people’s happiness.

The WHRs, over the years, confirmed that people tend to have:

- Happiness and community

- Happiness and voting behaviour

      -  Poor mental health,

      - A low score of subjective well-being and

    -  Poor perception about the governance and law and order, despite high income levels.

  Happiness has come to be accepted as a goal of public policy. And this discourse has           given a fillip to a new narrative where the interconnections between law, governance and happiness are being searched.
Happiness and Community: The importance of Pro – sociality

Generosity is one of the six key variables used in this Report to explain differences in average life evaluations. It is clearly a marker for a sense of positive community engagement, and central way that humans connect with each other. Chapter 4 digs into the nature and consequences of human pro sociality for the actor to provide a close and critical look at the well-being consequences of generous behaviour. The chapter combines the use of survey data, to show the generality of the positive linkage between generosity and happiness, with experimental result used to demonstrate the existence and strength of likely cause forces running in both directions.

Happiness and voting behaviour

Happier population is any more likely to vote, to support governing parties, or support populist authoritarian candidates. 

The data suggest that happier people are both more likely to vote, and to vote for incumbents when they do so. 

The evidence on populist voting is more mixed. Although unhappier people seem to hold more populist and authoritarian attitudes, it seems difficult to adequately explain the recent rise in populist electoral success as function of rising unhappiness- since there is little evidence of any recent drop in happiness levels. 

The chapter suggests that recent gains of populist politicians may have more to do with their increased ability to successfully chime with unhappy voters, or to be attributable to other societal and cultural factors that may have increased the potential gains from targeting unhappy voters,

Interconnections between law, governance and happiness

Countries which have higher GDP and higher per capita income are NOT necessarily happy, and that is shocking data. So, the new link is found between happiness and rule of law. 

In an environment in which laws are gradually becoming reactive, regulatory and penalizing, this directly impacts on the happiness. This can be understood by following reports and examples---

1. Gross National Happiness (GNH) by Bhutan:

The connection between crime and happiness is understandable from the experience of Bhutan, which introduced Gross National Happiness (GNH) as a measure of good governance.

A great majority of the Bhutanese population are happy (of whom 41 percent are extremely happy), and only 4 per cent reported being victimized by crime over the last 12 months.

Further, the crime rate in Bhutan is extremely low. A negative correlation between crime/victimization and happiness is observed.

2. The Rule of Law Index- By World Justice Project:

The countries scoring high on the Rule of Law Index, a measure used by the World Justice Project, are those who are higher on the index of happiness as well. Among these countries are Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands and Austria. The fact that happiness ought to be part of the agenda to improve rule of law, and vice versa, is a new thrust in the emerging policy discourse in many countries and local jurisdictions. The institutionalisation of a happiness framework as a measure of achievement for policy goals is now being debated.

The World Reports on Happiness in selected countries and their crime and victimization data present remarkable trends. The impact of criminal victimisation on happiness is often negative.

Analysis from six nations, namely, Finland, Denmark, Philippines, South Africa, India and Sri Lanka shows that at least one of the four crime variables share an inverse relation with the happiness score of the respective nation. This leads to the conclusion that individuals living in nations with high crime rates are less happy and satisfied than individuals living in nations with a comparatively lower crime rate.

 Happiness Performance in Indian context-

Indian constantly ranked low in happiness Index one after another, and there is direct link between happiness and law in India as well. For Instance, we can see an example of pending Court cases:

-          Laws and legal regimes are the distributors of unhappiness in many ways. We have about 3.3 crore cases pending in various courts in the country.

-          Each case is not a mere number. It involves tension, anxiety and deprivation to all those associated with it.

-          A group of people family members, relatives, friends and others of the parties involved are necessarily affected because of such cases.

-           If we presume that there are about 20 persons in each case belonging to one or the other parties, we get a number of about 64 crores.

-          Interestingly, none of them would be in a state of happiness on account of being linked to the case.

-          Inevitably, the criminal justice administration for these people is a source of unhappiness.

Moreover, not more than 30 per cent people approach the courts in India. There is a visible decline in civil litigation, which suggests that a large number of people in the country are living with unresolved conflicts.

Criminal justice has far-reaching consequences for the lives of people as it brings difficulties when it does not act; it causes turbulence when it does.

Millions of accused, victims, suspects, witnesses and others have poignant tales about the actions and inactions of the criminal justice administration.

The satisfaction level of people is far too low in this country when it comes to the police and courts.


The ideologies promoted by the government also have an effect on the overall satisfaction of the people besides poverty, unemployment and other issues of sustenance, the outlook of the government on religion, gender, sexuality, etc. also determine the contentment of the governed.

For example, in India, increasing incidents of cow vigilantism, communal and gender bigotry ultimately make the society intolerant and dissatisfied.

It is probably time to shift the discourse of policy making towards the larger satisfaction of the people with the public institutions they have to regularly approach for various purposes.

It is; perhaps, time to turn the narrative of law, policy and development, towards building a happier society.

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