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Indians happier,healthier than many developed nations

'Happy Planet Index ' compiled by UK-based New Economics Foundation has placed India at the 35th position while the list is topped by Costa Rica.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Published: July 28, 2009 2:19:01 pm

India is way ahead of many developed economies,including the US and the UK,in terms of happy lives and eco-friendliness,with the country cornering the 35th spot among 143 nations.

The ‘Happy Planet Index (HPI)’ compiled by UK-based New Economics Foundation has placed India at the 35th position while the list is topped by Costa Rica.

The index is based on high life expectancy,high life satisfaction and ecological footprint – a measure which takes into account carbon emissions by individuals.

Going by the report,the US is at the 114th spot while the UK is better placed at 74th position.

Among the BRIC nations,Brazil and neighbouring China are ranked higher at ninth and 20th places,respectively. Russia is a distant 108th.

The survey noted that “the countries that are meant to represent successful development are some of the worst-performing in terms of sustainable well-being.

“It also reveals some notable exceptions – less wealthy countries,with significantly smaller ecological footprints per head,having high levels of life expectancy and life satisfaction. In other words,it shows that a good life is possible without costing the Earth”.

The index provides a measure of the ecological efficiency with which happy and healthy lives are supported.

According to the report,ecological footprint of a person is a measure of the amount of land required to provide for all the resource requirements for that person,plus the amount of vegetated land required to absorb his CO2 emissions and the CO2 emissions embodied in the products he consumes.

The survey covered the countries that account for nearly 99 per cent of the world’s population.

“In an age of uncertainty,society globally needs a new compass to set it on a path of real progress. The Happy Planet Index (HPI) provides that compass by measuring what truly matters to us – our well-being in terms of long,happy and meaningful lives – and what matters to the planet – our rate of resource consumption,” the report said.

The survey noted that there is actually a negative correlation between GDP growth and change in HPI scores between 1990 and 2005.

“That the economic model of the leading developed nations of the world leads to less efficiency in terms of achieving high well-being with a low environmental cost,” it said.

The index noted that between 2000-2005,the three biggest countries in the world,China,India and the US,all suffered decreases in HPI,as did some other wealthy nations. The biggest fall was seen in Iraq – 21 per cent.

While the HPI confirms that countries where people enjoy the happiest and healthiest lives are mostly richer developed countries,it also shows the unsustainable ecological price we pay for it.

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