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United Nations: India has not fared well in a global ranking of the happiest nations, coming in at the 117th spot out of 158 countries on the index that took into account GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support and freedom to make life choices as indicators of happiness.

Switzerland has been named the most happiest country in the world, coming in at the number one spot on the 2015 World Happiness Report published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), which is a global initiative for the United Nations.
The other countries in the top five are Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada.

India's rank is 117, below nations like Pakistan (81), Palestine (108), Bangladesh (109), Ukraine (111) and Iraq (112). Its rank dropped six notched from the 2013 report, when it was on the 111 spot.

"Increasingly happiness is considered a proper measure of social progress and goal of public policy," the report said, adding the happiness index describes how measurements of well- being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations.

It takes into account factors like GDP per capita, social support of having someone to count on in times of trouble, freedom to make life choices, healthy life expectancy, generosity and perceptions of corruption.

The US is ranked 15, followed by UK (21), Singapore (24), Saudi Arabia (35), Japan (46) and China (84).

Afghanistan and war-torn Syria joined eight sub-Saharan countries in Africa -- Togo, Burundi, Benin, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Chad -- as the 10 least happy of 158 countries. 

The report said that the year 2015 is a "watershed" for humanity, with the pending adoption by UN member states of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September to help guide the world community towards a more inclusive and sustainable pattern of global development.

"The concepts of happiness and well-being are very likely to help guide progress towards sustainable development," it said.

In a section on 'Geography of Happiness', the report compared the country rankings in the 2015 report with those for 2013



finding a combination of consistency and change.

Nine of the top 10 nations in 2015 were also in the top 10 of 2013. But the ranking has changed, with Switzerland now at the top. Rounding out the top 10 Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia, all with average scores above 7.28.

The report said that three-quarters of the differences among countries, and also among regions, is accounted for by differences in six key variables: GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support, trust, perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity.

Differences in social support, incomes, and healthy life expectancy are the three most important factors. The report also highlights four supports for well-being and their underlying neural bases.

These are sustained positive emotion, recovery of negative emotion, empathy, altruism and prosocial behavior and mind-wandering, mindfulness and "affective stickiness" or emotion-captured attention.

It also focusses on the mental state and conditions of the world’s future, as embodied in the one-third of the current global population who are now under 18 years of age.

"It is vital to determine which aspects of child development are most important in determining whether a child becomes a happy, well-functioning adult. Studies that follow children from birth into adulthood show that of the three key features of child development (academic, behavioral, or emotional), emotional development is the best of the three predictors, and academic achievement the worst," it said.

It said that altogether 200 million children worldwide are suffering from diagnosable mental health problems requiring treatment yet even in the richest countries only a quarter are in treatment.

"Giving more priority to the well-being of children is one of the most obvious and cost-effective ways to invest in future world happiness," the report said.
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and one of the editors, said that well-being depends heavily on the pro-social behavior of members of the society.


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