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A ‘happy’ country

March 23, 2019

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PAKISTAN must have gone up in the estimation of the happy people of the world after the revelation that it is among only 20 countries to have improved their position on the World Happiness Index this year. It is quite a leap from slot 75 last year to slot 67 this time around. In fact, it seems that the position has been secured with people in this country, barring a few, not being aware of their state of happiness. Imagine if we had known that we were really happy; the news would have certainly made us even happier — and perhaps we might have gone on to rival the best on the chart, among them the Scandinavian countries. Still, it should be of immense satisfaction to the data minders as well as the less-number-savvy leaders here that we top the group in our region — and by a margin that should make us the source of envy in our immediate surroundings. To begin with, we beat India by a long shot; India is at an abysmal 140th position. Afghanistan is located closer to India on this roll, ranked at 154th position, but it is again of some comfort to us that friend China features at number 93, where it must be coveting the company of a, shall we say, content nation like ours.

A sure recipe for joyous relief for Pakistanis, the list seems to be the outcome of considerable efforts undertaken by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. In its annual exercise, the UN mapped happiness in 156 countries of the world, based on six indicators: income per capita, life expectancy, social support, freedom, generosity and corruption (hopefully the lack of it). It is obvious that Pakistan must have done remarkably well on all or most of these counts to make the grade. Greater faith in our abilities, a bit more freedom and generous self-belief to curb cynicism could push us further up in future happiness counts.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2019