May , 2024
Gross domestic product vs. gross domestic happiness
23:41 pm

Dr. P. K. Agarwal

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) serves as the fundamental measure of economic performance for every nation. It reflects the market value of all goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a given year. However, a more pertinent measure is GDP per capita, which accounts for the GDP divided by the population of the country. At the close of the financial year 2022-23, India’s GDP stood at ₹294 lakh crores, with a targeted increase to $35 trillion US Dollars, approximately ₹2681 lakh crores, by the year 2047. This ambitious target poses significant challenges. In this scenario, the per capita income in India is projected to rise from the current $3000 to $18000, marking a six-fold increase from ₹19000 per person.

With 58% of India’s population residing in rural areas, priority should be given to the development of rural India. While the major share of GDP originates from urban and industrial centers, the contribution of the agriculture sector has dwindled to a mere 15%. Conversely, the number of individuals with total assets exceeding ₹1000 crores is escalating rapidly. However, the disparity is evident, with the rural population not receiving its fair share of development benefits. Fortunately, according to the World Poverty Watch, only 3% of India’s population, approximately 3.44 crore people, live below the poverty line, earning less than $2.5, or ₹189 per day. This, if accurate and not a statistical manipulation, presents a cause for celebration.

Despite statistical indications of declining poverty and claims by the ruling party regarding universal housing provision and free ration distribution, recent data from the World Happiness Report, 2024, published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solution Network, places India at a low rank of 126th out of 143 countries, even trailing behind Pakistan, Iraq, and Palestine. The report identifies four factors contributing to happiness: faith, form, fitness, family, and friends. While Indian culture has long espoused these values, modern influences like Information Technology and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are gradually eroding traditional Indian ethos and lifestyle, fostering individualism, self-centeredness, and societal divisions based on caste, religion, and region.

Despite these challenges, Indians demonstrate resilience and spirituality, ranking ahead of several countries in personal and spiritual fulfillment. However, there is no room for complacency. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Indians largely satisfy their physiological, basic, and social needs, with aspirations towards ego needs and self-actualization. Yet, effective law enforcement and eradication of corruption and criminal activities are essential to ensure societal stability and reduce discrimination based on illicit wealth and power.

Efforts to bridge the gap between rural and urban sectors, ensure equitable consumption patterns, and provide tangible benefits of development to all segments of society are imperative. Aristotle identifies good health, wealth, knowledge, and friendships as constituents of happiness. For millions of Indians, happiness remains elusive until their basic needs are met. Initiatives like the establishment of Happiness Departments and Institutes in states such as Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra are commendable. However, such endeavors should transcend religious boundaries and incorporate happiness education into school curricula to foster societal well-being and cohesion.

Happiness ensues when thoughts, words, and actions align harmoniously. If we collectively embrace this principle, India can advance not only as a robust economy but also as a beacon of happiness, resilient to the fluctuations of the global economy. 


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