Close to a third of Indians — almost 31 per cent or about 240 million Indian adults — rate their lives poorly enough to be considered “suffering,” according to a new study by Gallup Research. This is 24 per cent more than last year and brings out worrying glimpse into the psyche of people from all income levels living across the country. But the good news is that the percentage of Indians who say they did not have enough money for food decreased from a high of 35 per cent in 2006 to 13 per cent in 2012.
However, we should not be too happy with that. It’s discomforting to realize that one in eight Indians, around 13 per cent, is optimistic enough to be considered thriving. What is more, this “suffering” has increased at every income level, to a rate of 38 per cent among the agricultural class compared to 31 per cent last year, to a rate of 29 per cent among the blue collar group levels from 26 per cent last year and 17 per cent among the white collar, from 15 per cent last year. This means that roughly twice as many agricultural workers rate their lives poorly enough to be considered suffering. Given the fact that so many Indians rate their lives so poorly may seem inconsistent with the country’s high levels of economic growth and its rising-star status in the global economy.
The report indicates that the suffering levels among the educated and uneducated class may actually be widening. More than one-third of Indians who have not completed secondary school are considered suffering in early 2012, versus 8 per cent of those who have completed graduate education or more. Entrepreneurship which is the backbone of job creation in any country lacks behind in India. Despite a high level of entrepreneurial talent in the country, only 16 per cent of Indian adults own a business.
According to the report there is an overall decline in national reading and mathematical proficiency to the point where most Indian children are now considered to be two to three years behind expectations. This brings forth the fact that educational opportunities are by no means universal in India; especially hard-hit are children living in rural areas. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report revealed India’s serious dearth of higher learning. In 2007-2008, 13.6 per cent of Indian college-aged students were enrolled in higher education — a figure much lower than international standards, the report said.
With economic growth expected to slow further in Asia at least in the first half of 2012, Gallup surveys in early 2012 suggest Indians may be somewhat less prepared than their counterparts elsewhere in Asia to handle the economic pinch.