India Cities Happiness Report 2020: City Happiness Rankings, Impact of COVID-19 and Thought Leaders’ Insights

Gurugram: First India Cities Happiness Report covering thirty-four major cities measuring happiness across the country, the contributing factors to people’s happiness, the impact of COVID-19 on happiness, and insights from global thought leaders.

The study is based on a nationwide survey covering 13,000 people during October- November 2020 by Professor Rajesh K Pillania. He is recognised for his extensive research, jointly ranked number one in average research productivity among management faculty (including IIMs & IITs) in India between 1968 to 2014.

John F. Helliwell, Co-Editor (with Jeffry Sachs and Richard Layard) of the World Happiness Report, Professor Emeritus, Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia emphasises that Rajesh Pillania and his team did a signal service in extending the scope of world happiness research by providing data for 36 Indian states in India Happiness Report 2020. The India Cities Happiness Report 2020 further deepens understanding by monitoring the quality of life in 34 major cities.

In the happiness rankings of cities, Ludhiana, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh are the top three. Among the Tier-I cities, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and New Delhi are among the top three whereas, among Tier-II cities, Ludhiana, Chandigarh and Surat are the top three cities in happiness rankings. The results show age group, education, and income level are overall positively related to happiness and marital status is negatively related to happiness, i.e. unmarried people are happier than married people in big cities.

Jaime Lerner, World-renowned Architect & Urban Planner, Former President of the International Union of Architects and, Chairman, Jaime Lerner Arquitetos Associados, and Among 25 Most Influential Thinkers in the World (Time magazine, 2010), stresses on Remembering Togetherness for happiness in cities and emphasises that quality public spaces are the glue that can hold together sharing, trust, connectedness, a sense of civic duty, responsibility and pride because public spaces are the theatres where urban life happens.

The spirit of India is quite resilient, and the impact of COVID-19 varies across cities. It varies from the worst possible to the best possible among individuals in the study. Bengaluru, Kochi and Kolkata have shown the worst possible impact of COVID-19 on happiness.

Francesc Miralles, Co-author of Bestselling book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life pinpoints people often believe that happiness is the absence of problems, and that’s a big mistake.

The report contains insights from various thought leaders on happiness including Ruut Veenhoven, Pioneer and World Authority on the Scientific Study of Happiness, Emeritus Professor of Social Conditions for Human Happiness, Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands (EHERO), and, Director, World Database of Happiness; John F. Helliwell, Co-Editor (with Jeffry Sachs and Richard Layard) of the World Happiness Report, Professor Emeritus, Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia, and Distinguished Fellow, Canadian Institute of Advanced Research; Jaime Lerner, World-renowned Architect and Urban Planner, Former President of the International Union of Architects, Chairman, Jaime Lerner Arquitetos Associados and, Among 25 most Influential Thinkers in the World (Time magazine, 2010); Carlo Ratti, Director, MIT Senseable City Lab, Founding Partner, Carlo Ratti Associati and, Co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization; Richard Florida, one of the World’s Leading Urbanists, University Professor at University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management, A Distinguished Fellow at NYU’s Schack School of Real Estate, and, Founder of the Creative Class Group; Padma Bhushan M. B. Athreya, Recognised as one of the Founders and Pioneers of the Indian Management Movement, and Ex-Professor London Business School, and Ex-Professor IIM- Calcutta; and, Francesc Miralles, Co-author of Bestselling book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.

People are optimistic about the future and generally scored more on happiness after five years compared to scores today. In the future happiness rankings after five years, Ludhiana, Jammu and Amritsar are the top three.

Carlo Ratti, Director, MIT Senseable City Lab and Co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization highlights that the key issue cities are facing is the relationship between the natural and the artificial worlds resulting in more happiness; and, don’t focus just on new technologies but use them to build cities for lovers and friends.

The three key takeaways for governments, organisations, and individuals are first different cities are at different levels of happiness rankings. There is a pressing need for more discussion, focus, and the application of happiness in the Indian context. Second, knowing is not enough, happiness needs to be practised. Third, choose and put into practice all or some or at least one of the insights from this report.

Professor Pillania has been researching, writing, teaching and training students and senior management people on happiness for the last five years. He has taught and trained 1000s of students and senior management people on strategy, innovation and happiness over the last 20 years. His recent books are Amazon Bestseller, ‘Happiness Strategy: Strategy and Happiness for Everyone’ and, ‘Happiness Diary: My Experiments with Happiness’.

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