India is at risk of experiencing serious instability and chaos. Its national job-based hopelessness has nearly tripled since 2007.
The two states of mind that are most deadly for societies in a world of hopeless unemployment and chronic workplace disengagement are: One, you’re out of work and believe you’ll never find a job. Two, you have a job, but you’re miserable. Combine these conditions with corruption and cronyism, and you get societal suffering that breeds chaos.
Most alarming for India, though, isn’t the current state of its society, but where things are headed. Gallup’s quarterly tracking numbers show:
- Thirty-three percent of working Indians are actively disengaged. Of these actively disengaged employees, 35% rate their lives poorly enough to be considered “suffering.”
- The percentage of Indians who believe the government is corrupt has jumped from 73% to 84%. And the number who believe businesses are corrupt has jumped from 67% to 81%.
- Forty-two percent of the total adult population feels their community is a “bad place to start a business.” And 64% think the government makes it hard to start a business in India -- up from 46% last quarter.
- Indians are losing confidence that working hard can make them successful -- down from 77% last quarter to 63% this quarter.
- Indians are increasingly dissatisfied with the level of personal freedom they have to choose what they do with their lives; a record-high 39% are dissatisfied with their personal freedom.
- Most troubling of all: Over the past five years, the percentage of Indians rating their lives poorly enough to be classified as “suffering” has risen from 7% to 19%.
My recommendation: Indian leaders should change all of their metrics. Stop placing emphasis on GDP, interest rates, and inaccurate unemployment data. Move everything to the new metrics of behavioral economics -- to state-of-mind versus simple transaction data. These metrics are:
- percentage of good jobs
- percentage of engaged and actively disengaged workers
- perceptions of government and business corruption
- belief that working hard will get you ahead
- perceptions that “India is a good place to start to a business”
- percentage saying they’re dissatisfied with their personal freedom
- percentage who rate their lives so poorly that they are considered suffering
Do this, and India will prevent its own economic and societal meltdown.
A version of this post originally appeared in Business Today, India.