According to the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index, released on Tuesday, only about one-fifth of Indians, or 21 per cent, were financially thriving while 49 per cent were struggling and 30 per cent suffering.
The Well-Being Index is a barometer of individual perceptions of well-being, based on data collected last year across 135 countries, with more than 1.33 lakh interviews. It measures five elements of well-being (purpose, social, financial, community, physical) to understand the perception of citizens’ own well-being at individual, social network, organisational, city, state, country and global levels.
Among the five elements, ‘purpose’ refers to liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals. ‘Social’ means having supportive relationships and love in your life. ‘Financial’ relates to managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security. ‘Community’ implies liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community, and ‘physical’ covers good health and enough energy to get things done. Responses have been classified as ‘thriving’ (well-being that is strong and consistent), ‘struggling’ (well-being that is moderate or inconsistent), or ‘suffering’ (well-being that is low and inconsistent)
Lack of direction
In terms of ‘purpose’ well-being, 16 per cent of Indians are thriving, indicating that a majority of the population does not feel fulfilled in its day-to-day life. Notably, having a job makes little difference to the ‘purpose’ factor.
The proportion of Indians suffering in ‘social’ well-being is alarmingly high at 36 per cent. More significantly, 46 per cent of Indians 45 and older were suffering in this element versus 31 per cent of those under 45. This suggests that the older population is vulnerable to social isolation.
Only 23 per cent of the Indians are thriving in the ‘physical’ well-being category. Inconsistency in access to maternal healthcare, especially in the impoverished rural areas, is an ongoing health risk for many women.
The survey advises Indian leaders to tap huge opportunities to improve the well-being of a large section of the population. There is a need to promote job growth and infrastructure development to adapt to rapid demographic and social changes. Else, Indians’ well-being will stagnate as large sections of the population is unable to participate in the formal economy and those at the bottom suffer.
(This article was published in The Hindu Business Line, on September 16, 2014)