Inequality of Happiness
According to the World Happiness Report, 2016; Bangladeshis are happier than any other South Asian countries. Being ranked eighth happiest and greenest nation among 140, this country has taken one more step forward to ‘sustainable progresses’ in human development in the last 25 years. Which leads us to the rightful question; what would be the definition of happiness if the sinister shadow of unwelcoming tragedy keeps looming into our horizon?
Several questions kept rising when a few years ago countries like Pakistan and Iraq legged Bangladesh behind in this index. How can such nations with “religious extremism” or “political violence” be ranked higher than our country? When we come to think of it now, all we can do is be rather skeptic about it.
The amount of criminal activities, political tension or sectarian upheavals we are facing now is as contradictory as the answer of the question ‘are we happy?’ would be!
To top it off, the police headquarters database showed that, 11 people were killed on an average every day in 2015, with a total 4,015 murders throughout the year. Despite the high murder rate, the government often showed its content with the present law and order situation. But can the nation be in high spirits with the present law and order and get past the discernible violence?If we look at the bright side, despite having the smallest ecological footprint among nine other top countries of the list, what Bangladesh manages to achieve with this very low environmental impact is remarkable. Bangladesh’s small footprint might have been a reason behind the sharp shifts in its economy for the past years. By employing people in the renewable energy sector, a necessary effort was given to the country’s particular vulnerability to climate change. With the goal of universalizing primary education and eliminating gender and poverty gaps in primary education, Bangladesh has been able to increase the average years spent in school from five and a half years in 1990 to ten years in 2014.
It is often believed that people are happier living in societies where there is less inequality of happiness. Yet you would find an astoundingly underprivileged person begging for food or money around every isle a ridiculously expensive car might stop by. Although the number of people living on less than $2 a day in Bangladesh has fallen rapidly in recent years, poverty remains widespread, affecting a quarter of the population, and malnutrition in Bangladesh is among the worst in the world. Government spending on healthcare is also extremely low, at just 2.8% of GDP in 2014. These features are undoubtedly factors in Bangladesh’s fairly low life expectancy and wellbeing scores.
To overcome these obstacles, one has to look at the broader picture. Rather than taking a narrow approach focused solely on economic growth, we should promote societies that are prosperous and environmentally sustainable.
Why did Bangladesh top the list? Some people might think that this country, one of the poorest in the world, derived far more happiness from their small incomes than people in more affluent countries did from their relatively large bank balances. This explanation makes sense because happiness is rooted more in wanting what you have than having what you want. You can buy a bed with money, as the saying goes, but you cannot buy sleep unless you mean to spend your money on sleeping pills.
It definitely would sound contradictory but, the people of this country find peace & contentment in smaller things. You might be successful in finding a headstrong and happy person living in a slum; you can bring a mesmerizing smile in a kids face by simply showing your affection. You can feel warm and loved by your ‘overly protective’ parents.
In the Peanuts gang, a comic series by American cartoonist Charles M Schulz, its characters Lucy, Snoopy, Charlie Brown and others defined happiness as a warm puppy. The Beatles believed happiness was a warm gun. U.S. statesman and thinker Thomas Jefferson ranked happiness third in priority after life and liberty. But English writer G.K. Chesterton thought happiness was like religion; any attempt to explain was going to destroy it.
We might put our measurements and speculations into a piece of paper and try to make some sense on what this intangible thing is but to be honest, every judgment on how happy the people of our nation is can seem conflicting and gratifying at same time.