The acronym GDP for Gross Domestic Product is more commonly featured in public domain nowadays than in times past. A publication of International Monetary Fund (IMF) states that GDP measures the monetary value of final goods and services —that are bought by the final user —produced in a country in a given period of time, often a quarter or a year. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), an inter-governmental institution, defines GDP as “an aggregate measure of production equal to the sum of the gross values added of all residents and institutional units engaged in production (plus taxes and minus any subsidies, on products not included in the value of their outputs). The modern concept of GDP was first developed by economist Simon Kuznets (1901-1985) for a US Congress report in 1934, warning against its use as a measure of welfare. After the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944 (United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference) held in New Hampshire, United States, GDP became the main tool for rating a country’s economic health, but not necessarily the status of health and, therefore, happiness of the people at large, the sum of that phenomenon to be Gross Happiness Product (GHP) or Gross National Happiness Index (GNHI).
The debate on happiness felt by the country’s population collectively can be a fascinating pursuit when GNHI is distinguishable from GDP by valuing collective happiness as the goal of governance. Unarguably, Gross National Happiness is more important the Gross Domestic Product and has its pivotal role in changing the world.
Global rating agencies have currently accorded the prestigious rank to India as the world’s third biggest economy based on GDP. No such rating having been done so far in respect of gross happiness for the world’s nearly 200 countries, one is obliged to take a look at the state of happiness felt by the land’s masses. The topic acquires more meaning by segregating the land’s population into the different familiar socio-economic categories, age groups, faiths followed and geographical regions. One such study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington in the US, the finding published in the prestigious journal The Lancet Public Health, has brought out that people of India experience health problems associated with ageing at an early stage than their counterparts in many other countries, thus bringing down the level of happiness.
A luminary’s prescription for happiness goes like this: Eat sumptuously to be happy for a while; drink the heady stuff to be happy for a little while longer; take to gardening for lasting happiness. The choice in selecting the means to be happy, in all age groups, decides the level of happiness, both individually and nationally.