The quest for ‘happiness’ in the Viksit Bharat odyssey

GS Paper III & IV

News excerpt:

Viksit Bharat @2047 - A happiness-induced development model for India is more pertinent than the current model of mere economic development.

More details about the news:

  • Viksit Bharat aims to make India a developed nation by 2047, emphasizing economic growth. Critics argue for a shift to a happiness-induced development model, challenging Euro-centric notions.
  • There is a proposal for renaming it to "Happy India-Developed India" (Khushhal Bharat-Viksit Bharat) and prioritizing happiness in the journey.

Vision of Viksit Bharat@2047

  • It represents the government of India's ambitious vision to transform the nation into a developed entity by the centenary of its independence in 2047.
  • Encompassing diverse facets of development such as economic prosperity, social advancement, environmental sustainability, and effective governance.
  • This vision underscores the critical juncture at which India currently stands. Realizing this vision demands unwavering dedication, a firm belief in India's destiny and a profound recognition of the vast potential talent and capabilities of its people, particularly the youth. 

The idea of making India a developed nation by 2047, the 100th year of its Independence:

  • The focus and priorities in the choice of development planning are crucial and complex. 
  • In Viksit Bharat, economic development is overemphasized. But post-developmentalists argue that this is a Euro-centric notion of development which reflects the interests of its practitioners. 
  • The need for material development can be accepted, but this will be one of many things India will aspire for by 2047. 
  • Critics of development have consistently raised concerns about the conventional models of economic growth, challenging the contentious notions surrounding modernity and progress.
  • The aspects included in Viksit Bharat:
    • Structural transformation
    • Organising labour markets
    • Increasing competitiveness
    • Improving financial and social inclusion
    • Governance reforms
    • Seizing opportunities in the Green Revolution


  • Happy India-Developed India’ (Khushhal Bharat-Viksit Bharat)
    • Happiness ought to be the central pursuit in this journey. Without achieving happiness, development has no meaning. 
    • Ironically, the nations have developed, but people are not happy. Rich nations are not essentially happy nations. 
    • Wealthy nations have only performed on GDP and per capita income but have failed miserably in the context of social and psychological well-being indicators. This development scheme conveniently overlooks mental health and wellness. 
  • The World Happiness Report 2023 shows many developed nations have poor happiness markers. Some nations have attained both in a balanced way. 
    • India’s case is also crucial because it is ranked 126 out of 137 countries despite being the fifth-largest economy. 
    • The curious question would be whether India will have a better rank in the happiness index in the years to come. 
    • Development and the Viksit Bharat agenda will remain a dream if we fail to imagine how to rise in the happiness index.
  • Happiness measures have already become the goals of public policy in many countries. Happiness is no longer a subjective matter. 
    • Since its inception in 2012, the World Happiness Report has devised a robust method to measure and calculate it. 
    • The happiness matrix includes six variables: GDP per capita; healthy life expectancy at birth; generosity; social support; freedom to make life choices, and perception of corruption. 
    • The Happiness Report of 2023 placed extra emphasis on trust and benevolence in crisis situations such as COVID-19.

Social connections:

  • According to the Happiness Report parameters, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands are the happiest countries. These countries achieved development not at the cost of social disruption. Instead, they have built up social connections and support systems.
    • A happiness-induced development model for India is highly pertinent as we are significantly governed by social relationships and cultural mandates. 
      • In India, the current model of mere economic development is highly disruptive to our social order. 
      • This form of development leads to disorders and crime. 
      • All aspects of life in this development cycle do not change simultaneously, creating imbalances and contradictions. 
  • Such things are visible in our society, where industrial and economic developments are changing alarmingly, but quality aspects of life continue to lag.

World Happiness Report 

  • The World Happiness Report is a publication of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
  • The Cantril ladder asks respondents to think of a ladder, with the best possible life for them being a 10 and the worst possible life being a 0.
  • The World Happiness Report reflects a worldwide demand for more attention to happiness and well-being as criteria for government policy.
  • It reviews the state of happiness in the world today and shows how the science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness.

Looking beyond GDP:

  • The need to include social indicators for development becomes more pertinent as GDP estimates fail to consider life’s human and social aspects. 
    • The European Commission’s focus is moving beyond GDP, shifting to a measurement of economic performance and social progress. 
    • Specific indices already developed could make the agenda for Viksit Bharat@2047 more inclusive and comprehensive. For instance, a weightage to the Human Development Index, which consists of life expectancy, educational attainment, and income level, could be considered. 
    • The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in 1970 created a Social Development Index with 16 core indicators could be another inclusion.
  • The World Bank’s Environmentally Sustainable Development Division has developed a ‘Green Index’ that measures a nation’s wealth by incorporating three components: 
    • Produced assets.
    • Natural resources.
    • Human resources. 
  • The International Human Suffering Index measures the country on different parameters of human suffering.

Conclusion: In conceiving a national vision for development, indices such as the Global Innovation Index, Rule of Law Index, Poverty Index, Corruption Perceptions Index, Gender Equality Index, and World Press Freedom Index will be pretty significant to give effect to the idea of a happy India, revisiting the pursuit of a developed India as Happy-India will be pivotal in Viksit Bharat’s journey.



Q. Despite the consistent experience of high growth, India still goes with the lowest indicators of human development. Examine the issues that make balanced and inclusive development elusive.     (UPSC 2019)

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