We are some of the unhappiest people on the earth, according to the World Happiness Report. India is at number 118 out of 157 countries. The index places China and Pakistan at the 83rd and 92nd positions, respectively. India has slipped from its previous year’s ranking by one spot. Are we sadder than we were in 2015? Well, this is what the report implies.
Nordic countries take the top positions
Scandinavian countries lead the list with Denmark being the happiest country on earth, followed by Switzerland (2), Iceland (3), and Norway (4). All top 15 positions are held by countries of the developed world, including the USA (13), Canada (6), and Australia (9), which are high on several indices of human development, including technology and GDP growth. These countries have harnessed technology to serve people. Not only people, enterprises and organizations too have used technology in a big way. From pay roll to inventory to invoice generation—everything is automated. Countries placed high on the index have automated and mechanized agricultural technologies end-to-end. Manufacturing and services too have been automated. Life is predictable, secure, and safe.
Reasons for unhappiness
Experts say there are several factors that result in unhappiness, for example, poverty, pollution, corruption, underdevelopment, dissatisfaction, etc. and that several of these problems can be solved by judicious use of technology. They opine that removing pollution, corruption, and inequity will reduce stress levels, which are especially stratospheric in cities, making people more relaxed and happier. They also feel that in India, although technology has spread fast, it still has a long way to go. It has failed to make its presence felt in areas that are directly related to what people do. For example, today everyone has a mobile phone, but most Indian farmers still till their lands and harvest crops using archaic tools. They are still dependent on erratic monsoons, potentially leaving swathes of arable areas prone to drought.
Technology can tackle hunger, poverty, pollution
Modern technology can help in hunger alleviation, thus removing poverty. In India, 40% of all fruits and vegetables and 20% of grains rot or get destroyed due to lack of infrastructure and inefficient supply chains and never reach the consumers. Inventory management systems can effectively manage food distribution and storage, feeding millions of starving Indians.
Corruption is a major impediment to any country’s progress, and according to the experts it is rampant in India. It can be removed to a great extent by introducing technology and getting everything online. This step will make the processes efficient and transparent, ultimately resulting in people reposing their faith in the system. The move will also help remove red tape, inspector raj, and nepotism. Black marketing and hoarding can be tackled using inventory management systems which can make processes more efficient.
Similarly, pollution too could be lessened by investing in clean technologies. This would require research and development to focus on areas of green technologies, such as solar and wind energy, say the experts. Technologies will have to aim at making India fossil fuel free as soon as possible (It’s a necessity now; natural reserves are getting depleted fast.) For instance, Denmark, the number 1 ranked nation on the index, is a front-runner in several areas of technology, research, and innovation with global impact including green technology and environment conservation.
African countries at the bottom
Generally, countries at the lower end of the list are underdeveloped or developing. They are low on the indices of development such as life expectancy, GDP, innovation, etc. Countries from Africa and Asia bring up the rear, with Burundi being the saddest nation on the planet. All the bottom 15 countries are underdeveloped with little technological advancement or resources, including the likes of Tanzania (149), Rwanda (152), Benin (153), and Togo (155). Strife-torn Syria (156) and Afghanistan (154) are also at the bottom of the ladder.
Rigorous data to support UN research
The report has been published by a global initiative of the United Nations—the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). There is a global demand that the results be used to index the progress of nations and make happiness a criterion for government policy. The report was released ahead of the UN World Happiness Day on 20 March.
Countries are ranked on a scale of 0 to 10. Several factors determine the score: GDP, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption. The report argues that happiness provides a better indication of human welfare as compared to income, poverty, education, health and good government, when they are measured separately.