No jobs, no happiness
While 14 per cent Indians said that their lives ‘thrived’ in 2014, only 3 per cent belonged to that category in 2017
What does 'happiness' mean to you? A new car, your own home, those washboard abs, recognition of your achievements, family life, mental peace? Decoding happiness is one of the most difficult things in life. It is hard to imagine how even when one has a lot to be grateful for, there is still an unshakeable yearning. Similarly, it is inscrutable to decipher the smiles that adorn the faces of the poor. Is happiness possible even in the midst of miserable poverty? The pursuit of happiness is perhaps the most complex exercise. But interestingly there are surveys that professionally do just that. They find out how happy or thriving we are as a nation and that data or trend further helps them predict the future for these countries.
If you picked up the latest Gallup report, however, you would not be pleased, leave alone happy. The report titled, 'What happiness today tells us about the world tomorrow' aims to answer the crucial question if citizens of various countries are better off today than they were a few years ago. The report starts off by saying (rather alarmingly) that "If world leaders are listening, they need to know this: Life is getting worse in Russia, India, Colombia, and Egypt — countries that represent almost every continent. People in each of these countries, on average, have been rating their lives worse every year since 2014." Let's just focus on our own, Bharat Mata, shall we?
The numbers are saddening – the report notes that while 14 per cent Indians said that their lives 'thrived' in 2014, only 3 per cent belonged to that category in 2017. It further adds that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election to power in 2014 had imbued a sense of positivity, hope and expectation of economic growth and job creation among Indians. Over the next few years though, fewer Indians said that they felt that they were thriving. The percentage fell sharply in rural India but the drop in urban India was far more gradual. Whatever the pace of the decrease, the Gallup report notes India's name among the countries to have recorded the sharpest decline in the 'thriving' quotient in a decade. "This suggests that Indians' high hopes for their economy and their leadership may not yet align with what they are personally experiencing," the Gallup report further added.
In the run-up to this year's Lok Sabha elections, this plunging of the thriving quotient points to the mass scale of dissatisfaction and unhappiness that the common populace harbours for the government in power. Blundersome economic policies such as demonetisation, inept and hurried implementation of GST, etc. have cost the nation its growth. Two of the biggest indicators of incompetent governance and faulty policies can be seen in the acute farm distress and job crisis being currently faced by the nation.
The interim Budget may have set out to alleviate the problems of the farmers but the government's denial in not accepting that India's unemployment data has indeed hit a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18, does not bode well. The NSSO survey was being stopped from being made public and the government's spin doctors now speak of unfinalised numbers and viewing of the NSSO data with 'nuance'. Are we to understand that the final numbers will be whitewashed to suit the government's spiel? If there is indeed a job crisis as has been suspected for a while now, it is in the interest of the nation to find solutions to increase job generation. It is also undeniable that the audacity to harm public interest to safeguard party politics smacks of arrogance and dishonesty, and petty politics and government spin doctors are out to do more harm to the nation's working masses.
(The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal)