2.18         ndian     onom
     but only in a limited way—other things matter            many more countries in the world will be taking
     more:                                                    clues from Bhutan and the recently published two
           (i) community trust,                               World Happiness Reports.
          (ii) mental and physical health, and
         (iii) the quality of governance and rule of law.        InsIghts Into human BehavIour
           Raising income can raise happiness, especially     The World Bank in its latest report (World
     in poor societies, but fostering cooperation and         Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and
     community can do even more, especially in rich           Behaviour) said that development policies
     societies that have a low marginal utility of income.    become more effective when combined with
     It is no accident that the happiest countries in the     insights into human behaviour. It further adds
     world tend to be high-income countries that also         that policy decisions informed by behavioural
     have a high degree of social equality, trust and         economics can deliver impressive improvements
     quality of governance. In recent years, Denmark          in promoting development and well-being in
     has been topping the list. And it’s no accident that     society. It sites some examples from India in the
     the US has not experienced rise of life satisfaction     areas of healthcare and education:
     for half a century, a period in which inequality has               Open defecation dropped 11 per cent
     soared, social trust has declined, and the citizens have          from very high levels after a Community-
     lost faith in its government.                                     Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programme
           It is, of course, one thing to identify the                 was combined in some chosen villages
     correlates of happiness, and quite another to use                 with the standard approach of subsidies
     public policies to bring about a society-wide                     for toilet construction and information
     rise in happiness (or life satisfaction). That is the             on the transmission of diseases.
     goal of Bhutan’s GNH, and the motivation of                       The likelihood of default on loans became
     an increasing number of governments dedicated                     three times less with a simple change in
     to measuring happiness and life satisfaction in a                 the periodicity of meetings between
     reliable and systematic way over time. The most                   microfinance clients and their repayment
     basic goal is that by measuring happiness across a                groups to weekly rather than monthly.
     society over time, countries can avoid ‘happiness                 Research showed that boys from backward
     traps’ such as in the USA in recent decades, where                classes were just as good at solving puzzles
     GNP may rise relentlessly while life satisfaction                 as boys from the upper castes when caste
     stagnates or even declines.                                       identity was not revealed. However, in
                                                                       mixed-caste groups, revealing the boys’
           The idea of GNH in Bhutan tells a story of                  castes before puzzle-solving sessions
     exploration and progress since its King declared                  created a significant “caste gap” in
     (1972) the goal of happiness over the goal of                     achievement with the boys from backward
     wealth. For Bhutan happiness became much                          classes underperforming by 23 per cent
     more than a guidepost or inspiration; it became                   (making caste salient to the test takers
     an organising principle for governance and                        invoked identities, which in turn affected
     policymaking as well. The ‘GNH Index’ is the                      performance, as per the report).
     first of its kind in the world, a serious, thoughtful         The Report has recommended that the presence
     and sustained attempt to measure happiness, and          of a stereotype can contribute to measured ability
     use those measurements to chart the course of            differences, which in turn reinforce the stereotype
     public policy. It is believed that in coming years       and serve as a basis for exclusion, in a vicious