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It was a beautiful Sunday morning with a mug full of coffee when I caught up with the headline that India stands 136th in the ‘World Happiness Report’. I understand we Indians are never happy with what we have and always want more; but then being so down in the list with only Afghanistan from our neighborhood being below us did not sit well with me.

Soon I knew what my Sunday was going to be. The authors of the report have ranked the countries on the basis of “Average Life Evaluation”. “Finland” has the highest score of 7.821 and “Afghanistan” has the lowest score of 2.404 (India scores 3.777). They claim that they observed data on six variables and estimated their associations with “Life Evaluation”. Below are the 6 variables:


Variables Definition
GDP Per Capita GDP per capita is in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)
Social Support It’s a response to, “If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them, or not?”
Health Life expectancy Healthy life expectancy at birth is constructed based on data from the WHO Global Health Observatory data repository.
Freedom to make life choices It’s a response to, “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what you do with your life?”
Generosity Generosity is the response to question “Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?”
Perceptions to Corruption It’s a response to, “Is corruption widespread throughout the government in this country or not?”


Money, People and Health matters

To begin with I tried to identify which variables have more weightage on the final score and without any surprises they were ‘GDP per capita’, ‘Social Support’ and ‘Health Life expectancy’. These three variables contributed to almost 52% of the total score.

Going by the definition of these variables, countries where people are healthy, have more money to spend and are supported by their friends and family are more likely to be happy than others. Unfortunately, India has a low score on all these three variables. While the global average scores for “GDP Per Capita” is 1.42, “Social support” is 0.9 and “Health Life expectancy” is 0.58 India scores 1.167,0.376 and 0.471 respectively.

Given the population of India I can understand a low score on “GDP per capita” and “Health Life expectancy”. On these variables alone, India stands 104 and 107 respectively. Getting a better score in these variables requires more institutional changes where the citizens and the government must work together.

However, what’s shocking is our score on ‘Social Support’. It’s only 0.376 and on this variable alone we stand 140. This is less than our overall ranking. A country known for its social and family values scoring so low is something we need to ponder. For getting a better score on this variable, purely depends on each of us making our friends and family feel supportive.

Good News

It’s not good to be too hard on ourselves. It made me happy when I saw that the global average score for “Freedom to make life choices” is 0.52 and India has scored 0.647. For this variable alone we stand 34th. This is remarkable. On a lighter note, we have the freedom to make our life choices, it’s just that our life choices are making us unhappy.


We stand 47th on the grounds of “Generosity”. While the global average is only 0.18, we scored 0.198. I am sure you would be as surprised as me to know that China tops this list with a score of 0.99 under the “Generosity” variable.

This is also a good sign that on “Perceptions to Corruption” India stands 78th with a score of 0.123 while the global average is at 0.17. Corruption is a social menace on which many elections have been fought in India; even though it’s not eradicated completely the government and the people are more aware of this evil now than ever before.


As my Sunday came to an end, I heard an earful from my family to waste it perfectly without helping anyone. Without disagreeing with that, I still believe to have a lovely day as these scores took me back to my school days where we score the most in the subjects with low weightage and fumble upon the important ones.

I understand no country is perfect. For a big democracy like India, it would need greater efforts to drive the nation on the road of perfection. This requires committed citizens and governments and a lot of patience. While this report is not the benchmark of perfection, we can use it as a mirror to better ourselves.

These pieces are being published as they have been received – they have not been edited/fact-checked by ThePrint.