Happiness, arguably the ultimate goal of human existence, is slipping away from Bangladeshis. The World Happiness Report 2023 indicates a concerning decline in the country's overall happiness index, plummeting 24 spots in a year to rank 118th out of 137 countries. The troubling statistic prompts us to delve further into why Bangladesh is among the 20 countries with the lowest happiness in the world. How can we restore a sense of contentment to the nation?
The World Happiness Report measures happiness based on six key factors: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and the absence of corruption. Identifying and addressing these factors can significantly impact an individual's overall life satisfaction.
Fostering a strong sense of community and belonging is crucial to happiness. Local and national authorities should initiate community-building events and programs encouraging social cohesion and reducing isolation. Creating opportunities for citizens to connect with their neighbours and participate in local activities can cultivate a sense of unity and support, contributing to increased happiness.
The government must prioritise economic policies that increase job opportunities, reduce income disparity, and combat high inflation. By creating a more equitable society, the financial burden on individuals will lessen, contributing to their happiness. Policies that encourage entrepreneurship provide vocational training, and support small businesses can help boost employment rates and ensure a steady income for citizens.
Mental health, in particular, is a pressing issue in Bangladesh, where the doctor-patient ratio is a mere 5.26 per 10,000 people. To improve the population's well-being, the government should invest in healthcare infrastructure, increase the availability of mental health services, and promote awareness of mental health issues. A greater emphasis on mental health will improve happiness and reduce the social stigma surrounding these issues.
Ensuring individual freedom and the ability to make personal choices is vital for happiness. By upholding democratic principles and creating an environment where people feel empowered, we can contribute to a happier society. Transparent governance, civil liberties protection, and policies promoting equal opportunities for all citizens are essential for a thriving democracy.
Encouraging generosity and altruism can have a positive impact on happiness. Authorities should launch campaigns and initiatives to promote giving, volunteering, and community service to foster goodwill among citizens. By nurturing a culture of generosity, we can develop a sense of unity and shared purpose, leading to increased happiness levels.
Corruption is a pervasive issue in Bangladesh, as evidenced by its 147th out of 180 countries ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index in 2022. To tackle corruption, the government must implement strong anti-corruption measures and enforce the rule of law. A transparent and accountable government will increase happiness among citizens, as they can trust that their needs are being met and their voices heard.
Despite facing challenges similar to Bangladesh, Nepal has ranked as the happiest country in South Asia, placing 78th on the list. We can learn several lessons from Nepal to promote well-being and development. First, Nepalis are known for their strong sense of community and resilience in facing adversity, such as natural disasters and political instability. Building strong social support networks and fostering a sense of belonging can improve happiness and well-being.
Second, Nepal has prioritised sustainable development and environmental conservation, understanding the importance of preserving natural resources for future generations. Other nations can ensure a healthier and more sustainable environment by adopting eco-friendly practices and policies.
Third, Nepal has made considerable progress in education and healthcare accessibility, with a focus on rural areas. Ensuring that essential services are available to all citizens, regardless of location or socio-economic status, is crucial for inclusive development.
Fourth, Nepal has successfully promoted its rich cultural heritage and tourism industry, which generates revenue and fosters national pride and identity. Encouraging cultural preservation and sustainable tourism can help nations maintain their unique identities while benefiting economically.
We must learn from our neighbours and implement strategies that have proven effective in improving happiness. By studying the successes of other countries, we can gain valuable insights and adapt our approaches to better suit the unique needs of Bangladesh.
Happiness is achievable for Bangladesh if we address the key factors affecting it. By improving social support, income, health, freedom, and generosity and reducing corruption, we can significantly improve our citizens' well-being. The path to happiness may be challenging, but it is attainable. Every step in the right direction will bring us closer to a brighter, more contented future.
This article is part of Stripe, bdnews24.com's special publication focusing on culture and society from a youth perspective.