By Amit Roy
INDIA is one of the unhappiest countries in the world, according to the World Happiness Report 2021, which was compiled by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Centre for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.
Finland is said to be the world’s happiest country, with the UK and the US, ranked at 17 and 19 respectively. Despite the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in brutal circumstances, Saudi Arabia comes in at 26.
Out of 149 countries, India is ranked at 139. Only a handful of countries – Burundi, Yemen, Tanzania, Haiti, Malawi, Lesotho, Botswana, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan – are unhappier.
Despite the power of the military – or possibly because of it – Pakistan is at 105. Muslims who opted for Pakistan at partition clearly made a wise choice.
The researchers and academics who wrote the report, the ninth since it began, say: “2020 has been a year like no other. This whole report focuses on the effects of Covid-19 and how people all over the world have fared.
“Our aim was two-fold – first, to focus on the effects of Covid-19 on the structure and quality of people’s lives; and second, to describe and evaluate how governments all over the world have dealt with the pandemic. In particular, we try to explain why some countries have done so much better than others.
“The pandemic’s worst effect has been the two million deaths from Covid-19 in 2020. A rise of nearly four per cent in the annual number of deaths worldwide represents a serious social welfare loss.”
That India should be towards the end of the list does surprise me. Last week I spoke to my niece, who is doing research for her PhD somewhere near the Sunderbans in West Bengal. She laughed when I asked her to be careful about tigers. “They live deep in the forests,” she reassured me. Despite my over-protective sister, she – like all her friends – seems a very happy young woman.