“Life and Sports cannot be separated; they are one.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Every year, since 2012 the United Nations releases a list of the happiest countries in the world which are measured on a criterion parallel to the economic growth. Usually, Western European nations get the top honours and Sub Saharan nations get the wooden spoon with India being sandwiched in the lower half of the rankings.
The current parameters which are taken into account for the rankings include real GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, corruption.
In my opinion, I believe that the growth and engagement in sports should also be factored in for the Index. The list focuses primarily on economic stability and freedom but doesn’t really shed much light on recreation. Without recreational opportunities, a nation would be a dud in black and white. Sport makes up a major chunk of recreational opportunities and by far has the highest reach to every segment of the population.
From the rural pockets of Namakkal to the urban jungle of Mumbai, every backyard has their playing field.
Sports isn’t restricted to any class or creed; it can rather be the mixing pot for one and all. In a way, it enhances the dignity of the downtrodden and gives them the much needed economic and social support.
Medically, sports has been proven to aid the well being of mental and physical health. Denmark, which has the highest engagement of the public in community sports has finished third in the Happiness Index Report. I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence but is a proof that sport is indirectly pillaring the happiness of citizens.
Though sports probably wouldn’t be a criterion for the rankings in the near future, I believe that encouragement and development of sports in a nation would be a key to finishing on top.
India is currently 133rd out of 156 nations surveyed and have dropped down 11 places since last year.
Perhaps the encouragement of a Dipa Karmakar, or a PV Sindhu from the beginning in every alley may change our tides.