Seventh saddest nation!

| Updated: July 08, 2022 22:11:05

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For a country like Bangladesh to emerge as the seventh saddest country among 122 countries surveyed is quite surprising, if not shocking. The ranking made on the basis of worry, anger, sadness and stress by the Gallup has tried to capture national emotion levels across the world. But can emotions of an individual, let alone a nation, be measured precisely particularly when only 1,000 people out of approximately180 million people participate in a face-to-face interview to express their feelings? True, the 2022 Global Emotions Report prepared by the Gallup has wanted to present a representative picture of global sadness and this happens in almost all such polls and surveys. Here, 1,000 is too small a number to be representative of a nation that is known for resilience and a sense of humour even in the face of adversities. 

Well, people on the street get easily angry but on the other side of anger, they are accustomed to exchanging pleasantries. It is common to see a rickshaw-puller, a boatman humming a tune at the time of going about his arduous labour. At the time of greeting each other, people here ask, "How are you?". And the answer invariably is, "Keeping fine", even though personal troubles may be overwhelming for the respondent. Accepted that the pandemic has impacted lives and livelihoods of many awfully adversely and a large majority of low- and middle-income groups are frustrated and concerned about well-beings of their families. Village people, on the other hand, do not easily find life unbearable unless they meet unexpected reversals of fortunes mostly in times of natural calamities. Still, against all odds they stand firm and have done so for generations. 

If such traditional observations defy surveys and studies, it only confirms the inexplicable capacity of the nation's rise from the ashes. Renowned Western organisations, economists and development practitioners have been hard put to explain the country's development parameters and yet they are reluctant to call it a fluke. There lies the mystery of this nation's resourcefulness and strength. Henry Kissinger's 'basket case' is now an economic marvel, certainly not an enigma. This nation may feel temporarily depressed following the pandemic's all-pervading adverse impacts but it is well on course of turning around. 

In this context, let the United Nations-sponsored World Happiness Report 2022, released on March 18, be referred to. In the happiness index, Bangladesh was ranked 94th among 146 countries ---an ascendancy of seven slots from the previous year's (2021). Indeed, 2021 was the worst year for nations the world over. If the country has advanced in the happiness index, is not the reading on the sadness index paradoxical? Both the timings of polls or survey were, moreover, not of a wide gap. So what is amiss? If the quest for well-beings of the global peoples is the objective of both report and index, they leave people somewhat confused. Conceptions may be generalised to some extent but fail to present an authentic picture of human emotions and mental state.

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