Why is Bangladesh among the unhappiest countries?
Happiness is the sole reason for every human action. No matter what we do, we do it to make ourselves happy. However, going by this year's World Happiness Report, brought out by the United Nations, we in Bangladesh are not a happy nation. On a list of 137 countries, Bangladesh has ranked 118th, dropping 24 notches from what it was in 2022. This makes the country rank among the top 20 unhappiest countries in the world. Bangladesh performed much lower than even war-torn Ukraine.
Measuring happiness is not easy. But the world happiness report, published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, ranks countries on happiness based on six key factors. Those are: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and the absence of corruption. According to the report, the happiness is measured by asking a nationally representative group of people how satisfied they are with their lives these days.
If anyone living in Dhaka city is asked how happy they are with their income, they are sure to give us a negative reply. Price hike has taken an alarming turn lately and it is an issue that cannot be taken lightly. High price inflation has increased the cost of livelihood which is beyond the tolerance of the common people. With this, Bangladesh's unemployment rate, which is above six per cent nowadays, indicates that our economic growth has not been enough to create jobs for the youth. Unemployed youths depend on their parents' hard-earned money. And out of frustration some of them even commit or attempt suicide.
According to the world happiness index, people of countries with effective democratic institutions and good governance are much happier than those having deficiency. This shows us that democracy, good governance and strong rule of law can lead to an improved quality of life and increase happiness of people. Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and most of the countries in the top ten of world happiness index have good governance. These countries value human rights and have very low level of corruption. Now think about Bangladesh. Do we have democracy or good governance in our social institutions? Corruption is everywhere in our life. Bangladesh has recently ranked 147th out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) in 2022, according to a list compiled by anti-graft watchdog, Transparency International Bangladesh. Health, especially mental health, along with quality of work and family got priority for the countries that ranked higher in the World Happiness Report in 2023. It seems to be a luxury to get proper mental health treatment in Bangladesh where doctor-patient ratio is only 5.26 per 10,000 people.
It is not that happy moments never come in our life. But the ever-present problems like traffic jam, corruption, scarcity of work, inflation, lack of healthcare facilities must be addressed as best as possible. Improvement is always possible. Nepal, with all the challenges that it face like Bangladesh, has been ranked the happiest country in South Asia with its 78th place on the list. What is possible for Nepal should also be possible for our country.