#News Analysis

Why are Nepalis happy?

Published On: March 23, 2022 04:11 PM NPT By: Upendra Lamichhane

KATHMANDU, March 23: Nepal occupies the 85th place in the world and the top position in South Asia in terms of happiness, according to the 10th edition of the World Happiness Report 2022 released ahead of the annual International Day of Happiness on March 20. However, this piece of news came as a surprise for many in Nepal who thought there is hardly anything to be happy about in the country for the past some time. But the Nepalis are still happy. Here is why and how. 

The 10th edition of the World Happiness Report released on March 18 has ranked Finland as the happiest nation on the planet. Similarly, Nepal has been declared the happiest country in South Asia.

Despite an economy in doldrums, unstable politics, unpredictable future, and a confused society at hand, Nepal was ranked 85th in the world happiness report.  

“Nepal has been declared the happiest country in South Asia. How is happiness measured? What are its procedures?” a woman named Manisha Koirala wrote on her social handle. “Why are Nepalis happy? Or did they also count the smiles and laughter of those suffering from depression?”

Like Koirala, many Nepalis are surprised by the report, wondering how the country could reach the top in South Asia in terms of happiness despite facing a declining economy, unstable politics, unpredictable future, and a confused society at hand.

“This news has shocked me as well,” Ramesh Awal, a local resident of Bhaktapur said. “How can Nepalis be happy when there is despair everywhere. Maybe Nepalis keep smiling even when they are down and depressed,” Awal said and started singing a couple of lines from the famous Hindi ghazal by Jagjit Singh - ‘Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho, kya gam hai jisko chhupa rahe ho..” (If you smile as much as this, what sorrows are you keeping hidden…) 

Meanwhile, psychosocial counselor Sharmila Maharjan opined that a country’s happiness is determined by its psychosocial state. “There is an abundance of caring emotion in Nepalis rather than a spirit for competition,” Maharjan said. “Maybe that is why Nepalis can be found smiling even in adverse situations.”

Maharjan shared her memory of Nepalis smiling while still living in tents even in the shaky times of the earthquake in 2015. “The Nepaliness of caring for others in the most desperate times has still not died. This is the main secret of a happy life,” she added. 

The World Happiness Report typically ranks 150 countries based on various factors such as per capita real GDP, social support, health, average life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity, and perceptions of corruption. Before making a decision on the happiest countries in the world, data from a three-year survey of 149 countries are analyzed. Internal and external concepts of per capita GDP, social assistance, healthy living, freedom of choice of life, generosity of common people, and level of corruption of the countries are analyzed before releasing the report.

According to the report of 2020, Nepal’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stood at USD 33.98 billion. The same year, India’s GDP was 2622.98 billion dollars, according to World Bank data.  

The Central Bureau of Statistics has speculated Nepal’s per capita income to reach USD 1191 in the fiscal year 2020-2021. Meanwhile, India’s per capita income is USD 1,947. Despite such differences, Nepal has been able to surpass India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka among other countries in South Asia in the world happiness rankings. 

The spiritual aspect of normal Nepalis is also in its place. The way of looking at the world of life and the hope that something good will happen make people happy. Such qualities are seen in every Nepali.

Nepalis also do not need a reason to have a positive attitude. They remain happy, not only for the things they have but also for the things they don't. Farmers get happy after finishing their farming. Students get happy after finishing their exams. Children smile when they see a kite flying. The happiness of the visually-impaired people seen during the recently concluded festival of colors, Holi, relays the same message. “Colors are inside one’s heart even if one can't see them,” visually-impaired Shristi KC said smiling. 

Furthermore, it is seen that Nepal has been climbing the ranks in the world happiness report for the past decade. Nepal was ranked 135th in 2013. This time it has been ranked 85th. “Our country will be ranked even higher only if the economic situation of the country gets better,” Maharjan said. Just a subtle thought of that day will make Nepalis even happier,” he added.  


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