By Modnath Dhakal
Kathmandu, Apr. 4: The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) is conducting a happiness survey to measure the level of pleasure and prosperity among Nepali people as envisioned by the Fifteenth Plan (2019-2024) of the country.
The first-ever feat is being designed and executed to assess the long-term national goals of prosperity and happiness and create a baseline for the future survey on the subject.
According to Dr. Hem Raj Regmi, Deputy Director of the CBS, the survey is being conducted to measure the status of and progress to the national vision of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’ envisioned by the government. It will be conducted in the next fiscal year 2021/22 after completing the data collection for the 12th census and other ground works related to it.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had proposed the national aspiration as the main theme of the Fifteenth Plan and long-term vision for 2043 (2100 BS).
The plan defines the aspiration as ‘a prosperous, independent, and socialism-oriented economy with happy, healthy, and educated citizens enjoying equality of opportunities, dignity, and high standards of living’.
The aspiration includes four long-term national goals for prosperity and six for happiness where the former has 23 and the latter 12 indicators. Survey will have questions on these indicators to measure their status.
Long-term national goals for prosperity
1.Accessible modern infrastructure and intensive connectivity
2.Development and full utilization of human capital potentials
3.High and sustainable
4.production and productivity
5.High and equitable national income
Long-term national goals for happiness
1.Well-being and decent life
2.Safe, civilised and just society
3.Healthy and balanced environment
6.National unity, security and dignity
7 provinces, 6,000 families
The survey would be conducted in seven provinces. Randomly selected about 6,000 families would be approached for the survey and inferences would be based on the answers they provide, said Dr. Regmi.
The CBS had planned to conduct the happiness survey in the current fiscal year 2020/21. Questionnaire was already prepared and budget was also provisioned but the COVID-19 pandemic had obstructed the national survey.
Likewise, since the pandemic had troubled every individual across the country and disturbed the social, economic and familial ties and activities, it was an uncommon period to measure things like happiness because it wouldn’t have reflected the normal situation.
“As it is the first survey of its kind in the area, it will be used as a baseline for the future surveys so there might be the risk of having wrong baseline data for many upcoming years,” said Dr. Regmi. Therefore, the survey was postponed to the next fiscal year.
Similarly, the preparation of census was also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since census was the constitutional demand and needed to be completed within the current fiscal year, the happiness survey is postponed to allow time for the 12th census.
Dr. Regmi said that there is an international norm that the statistics should be acquired during the normal time/year.
Happiest in South Asia
In March this year, the World Happiness Report 2021 published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network placed Nepal at the 87th position in the group of 149 countries. It was a five-rank jump from the previous year.
According to the report, Nepal is the happiest country in South Asia although Bhutan was not included in the report. However, the results were made from the 2018-19 surveys.
But the domestic happiness survey is being conducted at a time when the economy is in a bad shape and more than a million people recently lost their jobs to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Bank has projected that Nepal’s economy would grow by 2.7 per cent in the current fiscal year and 3.9 in the next fiscal 2021/22 against the -1.9 per cent last year.
Before the pandemic, the country was on the high growth trajectory with higher than 6 per cent growth for the third consecutive year.
The Fifteenth Five-Year Plan is said to be providing a basis for achieving the long-term vision of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’.
“As the Fifteenth Plan is the first plan to implement the constitution according to the federal system, it is focused on creating a basis for the national vision of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’ and a socialism-oriented economy by ensuring rapid economic growth, creation of productive employment opportunities and equitable access to benefits and opportunities of development,” reads the document.
According to the United Nations, Gross National Happiness (GNH) is measured in nine different domains – psychological wellbeing, health, education, time use, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards.
-The Rising Nepal