Several lucky Indians have taken their vaccine shots and flown abroad. With relief, they are getting back to their own normal lives.
A year ago, all Indians were startled to be locked in. And shocked too that millions had to break out of the Lakshman Rekha for shelter, food, and even water to drink.
The novel coronavirus pandemic had exposed the precariousness of their lives.
Relief was rushed for them, and vows taken that when the pandemic passes, we must “build back better”, and create a new, more resilient, and more just economy.
World Happiness Report 2021:
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations released the World Happiness Report 2021. This year it focuses on the effects of Covid-19 and how people all over the world have fared.
It compares citizens own perceptions of their well-being in 153 countries. According to the report, Indian citizens are amongst the least happy in the world: India ranks a very low 144th.
The World Happiness Report 2021 has ranked 140 countries.
World Happiness Report ranks countries taking into consideration six variables:
- GDP Per Capita (Purchasing Power Parity)
- Social Support
- Healthy life expectancy at birth
- Freedom to make life choices
- Perceptions of corruption
The World Happiness Report 2021: Inequities have widened:
- Like aerodynamic stress-tests reveal structural weaknesses in the designs of aircraft, the pandemic has revealed structural flaws in countries’ economies.
- According to a report released by the World Bank, while India’s stock markets rose during the pandemic and the very rich became even richer, the number of people who are poor in India (with incomes of $2 or less a day) is estimated to have increased by 75 million.
- This accounts for nearly 60% of the global increase in poverty, the report says.
- While the rich are beginning to buzz around their global world again, a new architecture of economic growth is required to create better lives for the majority in India.
- The old global economy was very good for migrant capital, which could move around the world at will, its life made easier by countries vying to attract foreign capital, even bending their environmental and labour regulations to make it easier to do business.
- The pandemic has revealed that the old economy was not good for migrant workers, however.
- Their “ease of living” was often sacrificed for capital’s “ease of doing business”.
- The Indian economy must grow to create more incomes for its billion-plus citizens.
- Until the incomes of all rise, India will be a poor country from the perspective of the majority of its citizens, no matter how large its GDP.
- Moreover, economic growth must no longer be at the cost of the environment.
- According to global assessments, India ranks 120 out of 122 countries in water quality, and 179 out of 180 in air quality.
Think of new frameworks:
India urgently needs a new strategy for growth, founded on new pillars.
- One is broader progress measures. GDP does not account for vital environmental and social conditions that contribute to human well-being and the sustainability of the planet.
- These factors are ignored as externalities by economists; they are trampled upon in a rush to grow the economy.
- Several frameworks are being developed now to measure what really matters including the health of the environment, and the condition of societies (public services, equal access to opportunities, etc.).
- Most of these frameworks seek to define universally applicable The items measured are given the same weightages in all countries to arrive at a single overall number for each country. This ‘scientific’ approach does enable objective rankings of countries.
- However, as the Happiness Report explains, this ‘objective’ approach misses the point that happiness and well-being are always ‘subjective’.
- What matters to people depends also on the conditions of others around them. Wealthy people can be unhappy when they have less wealth than other wealthy people.
- Moreover, everywhere, fairness, and trust in others and in institutions, contribute greatly to well-being.
- Therefore, countries in which the spirit of community is high, such as the ‘socialist’ countries of Northern Europe, come on top of well-being rankings even when their per capita incomes are not the highest.
- The analysis of sources of well-being leads to the conclusion that the universal solution for improving well-being is for local communities to work together to find their own solutions within their countries, and in their villages and towns.
- Therefore, standard global solutions will neither make their conditions better nor make them happier.
The ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’:
- By 2022, New India will provide a solid foundation for clean, inclusive, sustained and sustainable growth for the next three decades.
- The ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’ reflects our preparedness to make this transition.
- Its recommendations are practical and detailed to facilitate time-bound implementation. All levels of government must work together to achieve the vision of New India.
- Working together as ‘Team India’ will ensure prosperity for all while protecting our environment and promoting the emergence of an innovative eco-system, propelling India to the front ranks of the global economy.
- Preparing the strategy is only the first step towards India’s economic transformation.
- The foresighted framers of our celebrated Constitution have set the enormous challenge of simultaneously completing India’s triple transition across social, political and economic fields.
- India is one of the very few countries that have taken on this historical challenge of completing the three transitions together.
- Having successfully taken forward the social and political transitions, India is now within sight of completing its economic transition as well.
The Prime Minister has given his clarion call for establishing a New India by 2022. The ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’ captures three key messages from the Prime Minister.
Development must become a mass movement, in which every Indian recognizes her role and also experiences the tangible benefits accruing to her in the form of better ease of living.
Collective effort and resolve will ensure that we achieve a New India by 2022 just like independence was achieved within five years of Mahatma Gandhi giving his call of Quit India in 1942.
The direct implication of ensuring rapid growth with inclusion is that policymaking will have to be rooted in Indian ground realities and emphasize the welfare of all in both design and implementation.
When only some shine, India does not shine. The government of India has begun a massive “India@75” campaign to celebrate, in 2022, the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.
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