Representational image | Commons
Text Size:

New Delhi: Are you happy? It’s a simple yet extremely profound question. Happiness cannot be defined, but not for lack of trying. Everyone from poets and philosophers to economists and sociologists have grappled with the concept. In recent years, it has become even more relevant as even governments have started looking at happiness as a metric to measure success.

The World Happiness Report, released Friday, is a United Nations (UN) study that looks at how happy countries are. The report is annually released on 20 March, which the UN designated as International Day of Happiness.

This year, Finland topped the list, just as it has in the past few years, thanks to the fact that its citizens reportedly feel very safe — socially, physically, and economically. It was followed by countries such as Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway, all of which boast an excellent track record of public health policy, low crime rates and public education.

On the other end of the scale were Pakistan and India.

India ranked an abysmal 145, five spots lower than last year, of the total 153 countries scored.

First introduced in 2012, the World Happiness Report is part of the UN’s efforts to emphasise on the importance of happiness. With this, the intangible and relative concept has become serious business.

The report is based on a number of factors:

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.


  • gross domestic product
  • social support
  • healthy life expectancy
  • freedom to make life choices
  • generosity
  • perceived corruption, and
  • recent emotions.

It takes an aggregate of these factors across three years and rates countries on a relative scale. This year, the UN study ranked cities on their reported sense of well-being.

Also read: Humans aren’t naturally designed to be happy

More than a fuzzy feeling

While a happiness report or rank might seem trivial, it is this type of data that points to the gaping lacunae in our development policies and the people’s perception of how their governments perform.

The report also helps in pointing out the importance of qualitative development rather than quantitative. It takes into consideration what people really think about topics such as women’s rights, minority rights, corruption rates, infrastructure development, education policies, fundamental rights and more. In a way, it is perhaps the most important report for a developing economy like India.

The past year has been less than ideal for India. There were reports of multiple human rights violations, starting from when Jammu and Kashmir was put under the longest lockdown to the violence linked to the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests.

As recently as February, the national capital witnessed communal riots that lasted days. All of this, while the economy has struggled.

The Happiness Report shows that like Finland, countries would do better to find reasons to smile.

As John F. Helliwell, an editor of the annual happiness report, puts it, happy people trust each other and care about each other, and that’s what fundamentally makes for a better life, according to a New York Times report.

Also read: Cancelled sex parties, quarantine porn, kissing ban — how coronavirus is killing sex life


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

Share Your Views


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here