Talking Shop: The Age of Bellwether
“The secret of happiness is to
face the fact that the world
It’s awful, awful, awful…”
On this same page where I have been writing with pride and conviction for more than two years, I read an inspiring article last week that struck a chord. It was a heartfelt performance by a wonderful human being and a former civil servant, a director with a brilliant pen and a luminous mind. He spoke of his contact with mortality. The family and personal medical experiences he shared made my heart and mind race. I thought a lot; of how, in the midst of darkness and misfortune, the Sun still emits light and radiance. How, in the midst of a perpetual rush for more possessions and other means, we tend to forget the little things that make life worthwhile and downright glorious, yet.
Still. This then, even (especially) in these debilitating and trying times, is a celebration of all that is tiny, small and small, for that is what makes life beautiful and the world wonderful. Sure, our lives can be hectic and flogged, but it’s more of a reason to remember that there’s a tomorrow ahead of us, a future we need to work on to become a better day. As a little bird said, we need to find inner peace because it can spread like wildfire.
Do not mistake yourself. I am neither a philosopher nor a diviner. I enjoy all the finer things in life, especially after 7 p.m. And I’m lucky to have some really good friends who love me, and I love them back. Sure, the wife and my cats and dogs sometimes make me miserable, but so do I. I love them as badly (and well) as themselves. That alone is cause for celebration.
All about statistics
Like I said, I’m no theorist, but let’s look at the world’s happiness numbers, if indeed nonsense like this is permissible. In India, we are happier than before, says a report. While India continues to fare poorly in the Global Happiness Index, our position has improved to 136th from 139th a year ago. Alleluia. Compare that with other countries in South Asia, where only Taliban-ruled Afghanistan has done worse. Afghanistan has been named the ‘most unhappy country’ in the world, ranking last on the index of 146 countries, while Nepal (84), Bangladesh (94), Pakistan (121) and Sri Lanka (127) managed to fare a little better.
This is great news (?), as India is now ranked 136th out of 146 countries surveyed. The survey conducted by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and its “World Happiness Report” assesses happiness taking into account factors such as the state of the economy (read GDP, Domestic Product gross), social support, personal freedom and levels of corruption. in any nation.
Finland topped the list for the fifth consecutive time, according to the 10th edition of the World Happiness Report. It was followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Among other Western countries, while the United States was in 16th place, Britain was in 17th place and France in 20th. Incidentally, the report also stated that India was one of the countries that over the past 10 years has seen a drop in life ratings by more than one point. To be precise, the list was completed before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Why party then?
Well, we should celebrate, again, because we are alive and around, despite all the forces around us trying to force otherwise. India’s unicorns are dying and our businesses are in shambles, but our taste and quest for butter chicken and kebabs are once again readily visible on our roads, as are bottles emblazoned with Bacchus on rooftops cars. An international cricket match took place in my own Dilli and over 41,000 crazed fans crammed into a stadium that could officially accommodate far fewer souls. Nobody, including the officials present in the VIP gallery, wore a mask, even though the cases of Coronavirus are doubling every day in the Capital. We do not care. We are happy.
Also happy is my own mother, who just returned from Haridwar last week after a holy dubki in the Ganges. Religion is very important as we are, after all, first class Hindu Brahmins, all stallions with only an overall thump for personal and general public safety. So we live on, seemingly having lost our patience with this shameless virus, showing muscle and vitriol to show who is the best. Me, myself and I have made fun of myself in public places where people laugh at me when I disinfect my hands repeatedly after each (in)human contact – “Abey, khatam ho gaya” ( silly, it’s over), I’m told, but I persevere as ruthlessly as I have for 28 months now. Because I believe, de(i)fiying what my favorite actress’ father Julianne Moore said in one of his ‘Live and Let Die’ stories, that it’s better to live and let live. I take care of myself, so that you too are safer.
Cannot be an indicator
It’s time to stand up, throw down the official cord, and take a call to be happy, despite the circumstances we face. Look on the bright side, always. When things have hit rock bottom on all unfathomable fronts, the future can only be better, right? Sure, we’re at a low point when it comes to economic growth and inflation, but it can’t get any worse, can it? So many siblings have lost their jobs and livelihoods that a few more centiles would just be a minor beep on the ascender, right? China and other bordering countries are said to have set up residences on our land, but that’s just proof of our dedication to global inclusion and good neighborliness, isn’t it?
On other fronts, some indirect statements by our talkative leaders have caused worldwide consternation, turmoil and humiliation. It is a new today, one that will lead to a newer tomorrow. But the singletons we must believe. Otherwise, we will falter as a nation-ton. The moot point is this, the one I learned from this touching column last week on these same pages. Things are tough, and so are circumstances, but when the going gets tough…
You want another quote, don’t you? Here you are with that of none other than Napoleon Bonaparte: “The world suffers greatly, not because of the violence of the wicked, but because of the silence of the good (peoples).” So we have to take up the challenge. Sit down, take notice, and act, lest we end up as an indicator, which is usually a herding ram with a bell around its neck and has no essential private parts. Ouch, the thought itself is painful as hell; the actual experience must be downright awful.
The author is a seasoned journalist and communications specialist. He can be contacted on [email protected] Opinions expressed are personal