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1st India Happiness Rankings, Impact of COVID-19 & Thought leaders’ Insights

  1. It is the first India Happiness Report and happiness ranking of 36 states & UTs.

  2. The spirit of India is resilient and the impact of COVID-19 on happiness is mixed.

  3. Interesting key insights on various aspects of happiness from nine thought leaders

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The study is based on a nationwide survey covering 16,950 people between March and July 2020 by Professor Rajesh K Pillania. He is recognised for his extensive research, jointly ranked number one in average research productivity among management faculty (including IIMs & IITs) in India between 1968 to 2014.

In the happiness rankings of states and union territories, Mizoram, Punjab, Andaman and Nicobar Islands are the top three. Among the big states, Punjab, Gujarat, and Telangana are among the top three states whereas, among smaller states, Mizoram, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh are the top three states in happiness rankings. Among union territories, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puducherry, and Lakshadweep are the top three union territories in happiness rankings. The results show marital status, age group, education, and income level are overall positively related to happiness and married people are happier than unmarried people.

The spirit of India is quite resilient and the impact of COVID-19 varies across states and union territories. It varies from the worst possible to the best possible among individuals in the study. Maharashtra, Delhi, and Haryana have shown the worst possible impact of COVID-19 on happiness, whereas Puducherry and Jammu and Kashmir are neutral and Manipur, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep have shown the best possible impact of COVID-19 on happiness.

The report contains insights from various thought leaders on happiness. 

Historian and biographer, Professor Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, emphasises that Mahatma Gandhi believed that the approbation of one’s conscience for one’s actions is the true source of happiness.

Professor Sir Cary Cooper, a leading global scholar in occupational health and wellness research, highlights that the mental well-being and happiness of employees and citizens is the true measure of success.

Dr. Ashley Whillans, Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School, and a leading scholar in the time, money, and happiness research field, emphasises that people who value time over money report greater well-being.

Dr. Emma Seppälä, Science Director, Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, and Co-Director Wellness, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, shares her conclusion that kind and compassionate people are the happiest and most fulfilled in a sustained manner throughout their lives.

Jennifer Moss, CBC Columnist, and UN Happiness Council Member, stresses that appreciating the opposites may be the key to sustaining a healthy mind-set, and happiness.

Dr. Dasho Karma Ura, Head, Centre for Bhutan and Gross National Happiness (GNH) Studies, highlights that GNH studies show that both material and nonmaterial conditions contribute to happiness.

Devdutt Pattanaik, a popular writer, writes that happiness requires all three goddesses: L (Lakshmi) i.e. the goddess of wealth, Saraswati (S) i.e. the goddess of knowledge and Durga (D) i.e. the goddess of power.

Dr. Rajendra Singh, popularly known as ‘Jal Purush, Waterman of India’, insists that lasting happiness comes by giving equal respect to humanity and nature.

People are optimistic about the future and generally scored more on happiness after five years compared to scores today. In the future happiness rankings after five years, Manipur, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Gujarat are the top three.

Dr. T.V. Rao, Chairman TVRLS and often referred to as the ‘One of the Fathers of Human Resource Development (HRD)’ in India, stresses that it is time to review all HRD policies in the corporate sector, government, and all sections of society, and redesign them to create happiness at work.

The three key takeaways for governments, organisations, and individuals are, first, different states and union territories are at different levels of happiness rankings. There is a pressing need for more discussions, focus, and the application of happiness in the Indian context. Second, knowing is not enough, happiness needs to be practised. Third, choose and put into practice all or some or at least one of the insights from this report.

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