April 20, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

INDIA’S UNHAPPY GEN Z: YOUNG AND LISTLESS

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THE CONTEXT: Recently, the World Happiness Report, 2024 was released noting that while the top 10 countries in the list have remained the same since before the Covid-19 pandemic. India was ranked 126th out of 143 nations in a global happiness index which noted that older age is associated with higher life satisfaction compared to younger ones in the world’s most populous country.

WHAT IS WORLD HAPPINESS REPORT?

  • The World Happiness Report is a partnership of Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and the WHR’s Editorial Board.
  • The World Happiness Report reflects a worldwide demand for more attention to happiness and well-being as criteria for government policy.
  • It reviews the state of happiness in the world today and shows how the science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness.
  • The ranking uses six key factors to measure happiness i.e social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption.
  • Since 2012, the World Happiness Report has been released annually around March 20th as part of the International Day of Happiness celebration.

FINDINGS OF WORLD HAPPINESS REPORT, 2024

  • Nordic nations continue to dominate the top rankings, with Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden following closely behind Finland.
  • Out of the 143 countries surveyed, Afghanistan remained at the bottom of the list, facing ongoing humanitarian crises since the Taliban regained power in 2020.
  • The United States and Germany, after more than a decade, have fallen below the top 20 happiest nations, securing the 23rd and 24th positions respectively. Costa Rica and Kuwait have entered the top 20, claiming the 12th and 13th spots.
  • Only the Netherlands and Australia, both with populations exceeding 15 million, are present in the top 10, while Canada and the UK, with populations over 30 million, are found in the top 20.
  • The ranking of happiness is determined by individuals’ self-assessed evaluations of life satisfaction, along with factors such as GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and corruption.
  • The report underscores a change wherein the happiest countries no longer include any of the world’s most populous nations.

INDIA SPECIFIC FINDINGS:

  • India ranked 126, the same as 2023 in the happiness index. Factors such as marital status, social engagement, and physical health also influence life satisfaction among older Indians.
  • Satisfaction with living arrangements emerges as a critical factor, reflecting the strong desire among older Indians to age in place and maintain autonomy and social bonds.
  • This study challenges the notion that age-related satisfaction is exclusive to high-income nations and underscores the importance of considering diverse factors affecting life satisfaction among older adults in India.
  • India’s older population ranks second globally, with 140 million individuals aged 60 and above, trailing only China.
  • The growth rate of this demographic surpasses three times the country’s overall population growth rate. While this demographic shift signifies social and economic advancement, comprehending the factors that impact the quality of life in old age remains essential.
  • Life satisfaction among older adults in India shows an interesting trend, contradicting the notion that age-related satisfaction is only prominent in high-income nations.
  • Education level and social caste exert notable influence, as individuals with higher education and from elevated social castes tend to report higher life satisfaction.
  • Furthermore, adjustment with living arrangements, perceived discrimination, and self-assessed health status emerged as key indicators of life satisfaction among older Indians.

ANALYSIS OF THE REPORT:

  • Aristotle theory: There is a common-sense understanding that age is inversely proportional to happiness as cares and responsibilities mount as death draws ever closer joy diminishes. Aristotle disagreed with this common sense and thought that a good life, was a function of, among other things, wealth and virtue things that take a while to acquire. The latest World Happiness Report is closer to Aristotle’s conception.
  • Contradiction of west with other countries: Countries in the West the US, UK, Australia, among others have seen a sharp increase in despair among young people. Economic uncertainty, social media are some of the likely reasons for this. In much of the rest of the world, however, the trend is the opposite young people are, by and large, happier.
  • India specific: Unlike most other lower middle income and middle income countries, especially those with a large young population, the old in India are happier. Among the elderly, it is upper-caste men with higher education qualifications who feel the happiest, most optimistic and included. The data shows caste, gender and class determine social well-being and a psychological sense of security.
  • Economic-Centric Development: The challenge lies in shifting the development narrative from an economic-centric model to one that prioritizes happiness and well-being.
  • Social Disruption: The current economic-focused development model may lead to social disruption, imbalances, and contradictions.
  • Disregard for Social Indicators: The conventional focus on GDP fails to consider crucial social indicators, neglecting human and social aspects of development.

THE WAY FORWARD

  • Learning from International example: Nordic countries consistently perform well in the World Happiness Report due to their strong government traits, including effective financial management, service delivery, rule of law. India needs to prioritize citizen welfare, contributing to their higher levels of happiness similar to these Nordic countries.
  • Prioritize social welfare alongside economic growth: There is a need to foster environmental sustainability and conservation efforts. Ensuring access to quality education and healthcare for all and addressing social inequalities and discrimination can be implemented to promote community engagement and social cohesion.
  • Personal Achievement: Completing a long-term goal, like graduating from university, can bring a profound sense of happiness and accomplishment to an individual. Spending a relaxing day with family or friends, and engaging in activities you enjoy together, can foster happiness through social connections.
  • Social Support Systems: Societies that prioritize community support networks, such as accessible healthcare, education, and social welfare programs, contribute to the overall happiness and well-being of their citizens.

THE CONCLUSION:

The pursuit of happiness is intertwined with sustainable development, combining social inclusion and environmental preservation. India must adopt a holistic approach encompassing economic, social, and political dimensions to achieve genuine progress and enhance overall happiness, prioritizing not just economic growth but also social welfare and good governance.

UPSC PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTION

Q.1 “Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy is the sine qua non to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. Comment on the progress made in India in this regard. (2018)

MAINS PRACTICE QUESTION

Q.1 The conventional focus on an economic-centric model fails to consider crucial social indicators, neglecting human and social aspects of development. Comment.

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/express-view-on-indias-unhappy-genz-young-and-listless-9225452/

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