Sunday, March 23, 2008
Pursuit of Happiness
India has done it again! It managed to secure the 46th position out of 50 countries surveyed for the "Happiness Index" The first three were Norway Sweden and USA.
Out of sheer curiosity , I interviewed a few people in Oslo, Stockholm and Washington DC. The Norwagians are happy because their Vikings had conquered the world long before the British French or Spanish learnt how to build boats. Their population is stagnant and their natural wealth is enormous, oil, gas, timber, fishing. Their GDP is second in the world after the US. And their only world famous painting, Edvard Munch's SCREAM expressing existential angst, has been stolen. So, they are free from angst now. Lastly,pornography is legal here. So, it is" sone pe suhaga" for them ( why dont we try it in India? )
The Swedes are not only happy but proud too. They gave to the world Dynamite without keeping a single gram with them. While the world is blown to smithereens with Alfred Nobel's invention, Swedes look back with pride. And haven't they given to Hollywood the numero uno actress of all time the one and only Greta Garbo? Not to talk about Anita Ekberg who started the genre of dumb blondes! Swedes dont want to adopt the common european currency the Euro, because they are happy with their kroners.Lastly, pornography is legal in Sweden too. No wonder they are on top of the world.
In USA the land of the almighty dollar, the reasons for happiness are varied. The people there are happy that the American constitution does not provide for a third term for George Bush. They are happy that trade with China is booming and the dollars are all coming back to them in the form of Chinese investment in US Treasury bonds. They are eating their cake and having it too. Dick Cheyney is happpy because he got for his cronies all those reconstruction contracts in Iraq. Rumsfeld is happy he got out of the mess in time. Condoleezza Rice is happy because after Hillary Clinton, she can try for the Presidency. The people in US are happy because all their work is being Bangalored and they have plenty of time on hand for leisure activities.
Back to India. I went to interview the doodhwala bhaiyya in Goregaon, carrying the happiness meter with me. He cycled furiously trying to run away thinking that i was carrying the lactometer to check if his milk was adulterated. On my assuring him that all i wanted to test was for his milk of human happiness,he consented for the interview. " Sab theak chal raha hai saab" he said " Gaon ma bal bachchey khush bibi khush har mahine panch hazar rupaiye bhejraha hoon saheb ji" he continued. My next interview was with the pan wallah. HIs business was roaring. " Boliye saab, sada, meetha banarasi ya pallang tod?" he asked with a wink. " Panch rupaye se panch sau tak ka paan banata hoon saab" Magar jabse bar dancing band hua hai thoda sa down hai business saab" " Phir bhi vaaanda nahin achchee kamai hai baal bachche khush" he concluded. I covered a few call centres and all the youngsters there were extremely happy with their careers and their newfound girl/boyfriends. No complaints. In Delhi, everyone I interviewed was happy, politicians, bureaucrats, traders, builders,students. The rich were happy, so were the poor, who thought that it was their bad karma in previous birth which landed them in this situation and were happily looking forwrd to their next birth. I am now convinced that the blokes from the happiness index measuring joint went straight to the farmers in Vidarbha and Andhra and the angry inhabitants of Nandigram in West Bengal and the only politicians they interviewed were Mamata Banerji, Uma Bharati and George Fernandes, whose happiness depends on the downfall of Buddhadev Bhattacharya, L K Advani and Sonia Gandhi respectively.Our constitution guarantees us the "pursuit" of happiness.
Who is bothered about happiness? Anyway, happiness is a state of the mind; we are as happy as we think we are ! Long live Sukhi Bharat !