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Happiness and Assam

By The Assam Tribune
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Rituraj Baruah

Time has come for us to come out of the comfort zones and start questioning and demanding. We should not be allowed to be used and purchased at the cost of our development. Remaining unhappy in pursuit of development of the State should not be a big deal.

Indian people are not happy the way they are leading their lives and they are clubbed with the countries like Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Botswana who are known to be disturbed for many years. In a recent World Happiness Report, released by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, India ranked 139th out of 149 countries. Finland ranked first followed by Denmark. Besides data from various sources, the report relied mostly on the Gallup World Poll.

Bhutan was a pioneer in promoting national happiness when they instituted Gross National Happiness Index in 2008 and started using this index in formulating policies of the government. It measures people’s quality of life and makes sure that material and spiritual development happen together. The history goes back to 1972 when the fourth King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk coined the term Gross National Happiness by declaring that GNH is more important than Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Taking a cue from Bhutan, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution ‘Happiness: Towards a holistic approach to development’ in 2011 and urged the member-nations to follow the example of Bhutan to measure happiness and the well-being of people. Thus the first World Happiness Report was published in 2012.

India’s ranking in the latest report is a cause of concern. But, then again India is a huge country having diverse cultures, languages, preferences and, most importantly, different mindsets. So, the level of happiness may differ from place to place, region to region. It’s a contentious issue whether Gallup could collect the right samples covering all these aspects.

If we look at it in the context of Assam, it may not be surprising to find the level of happiness of the people differing from the rest of the country. People of Assam are known as easy going, atithiparayan (hospitable) and the place is known as a land of lahe lahe (slow moving). So, our needs and expectations may not be too high to remain unhappy like the other Indians. We are not in a hurry to do anything; even development also can happen lahe lahe. We are quite content with small things, promises and gestures shown by others.

With this perception the political parties and leaders, in recent election campaigns, have made abundance of promises, made various claims of their achievements, taken names of various stalwarts of the land and abused our enemies perceived by them to win us emotionally. Somehow we gave them this impression to take us for granted.

Our needs are so small that a few thousand bucks coming to our accounts without doing anything can make us happy and content. We feel fortunate that without doing anything we are earning something. We do not require jobs, we are happy with the freebies. We feel happy to get a fish occasionally rather than learning how to catch it daily.

We feel so happy when a small amount is granted for our namghars and temples the total of which may be a fraction of the amount spent on advertisement by these political parties during the election campaign. We feel happy at keeping us engaged in abusing religious opponents. We take pride when the first electric locomotive reaches Rangiya, a ‘sign’ of development, when some places in the country are going for bullet trains and contemplating to go for hyperloop trains. We take pride when Bollywood stars donate for flood relief in Assam. We only show concern when the national media does not cover the Assam floods.

We feel happy to have a couple of hundred units free electricity every month, knowing very well how many hours of electricity we get daily in villages, if not to speak about urban areas.

Our day is done if a politician comes from Delhi and plucks tea; we feel elated if we are promised with bikes; we feel rich and powerful when we get a few thousand of rupees to run after political parties during election times – the list of our ‘happiness’ goes on.

Gallup failed to take sufficient samples from this part of the country; otherwise, it would have saved India’s embarrassing position to some extent in the eyes of the world. We would not have been far away from the Scandinavian countries in happiness count!

While happiness is a very broad subject, psychologists say that it is basically the emotional state of a person. It is related to balance of emotions and life satisfaction. A person needs to be happy by balancing the emotional state although it is quite challenging in today’s fiercely competitive and mechanical environment. It is linked to the socio-economic environment as well where politics and governance play roles quite a bit.

In today’s gung-ho environment, we have to be demanding, and cannot afford to be complacent. We have to be mentally tough to keep fighting till we achieve what we want. Under these circumstances, remaining content and happy is not that simple.

But this demanding and fighting spirit of Assamese people was not seen in the recent Assam election as the political parties tried to appease us as if we are a bunch of really lazy people, who do not want to work. They projected us as people with limited aspirations and needs which can be settled with a few bucks, can be easily brainwashed through some misleading advertisements and public utterings. They mesmerized us with narratives that are far away from our developmental needs.

It was worrying to see the indifference to unemployment; indifference to exploitative wages; indifference to uncertain business in trade and commerce, to lack of investment and industrialization; indifference to yawning economic gap with the States of other regions; indifference to recurring flood problems; indifference to single track railway system in this age of development, to name a few. We failed to question these leaders and make them accountable. We are happy with what we have and what has been promised as usual.

Governments will come and go , and no government is different. It is up to us how we can make them work for our development to bring our State at par with other developed States of the country.

Time has come for us to come out of the comfort zones and start questioning and demanding. We should not be allowed to be used and purchased at the cost of our development. Remaining unhappy in pursuit of development of the State should not be a big deal.

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Happiness and Assam

Rituraj Baruah

Time has come for us to come out of the comfort zones and start questioning and demanding. We should not be allowed to be used and purchased at the cost of our development. Remaining unhappy in pursuit of development of the State should not be a big deal.

Indian people are not happy the way they are leading their lives and they are clubbed with the countries like Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Botswana who are known to be disturbed for many years. In a recent World Happiness Report, released by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, India ranked 139th out of 149 countries. Finland ranked first followed by Denmark. Besides data from various sources, the report relied mostly on the Gallup World Poll.

Bhutan was a pioneer in promoting national happiness when they instituted Gross National Happiness Index in 2008 and started using this index in formulating policies of the government. It measures people’s quality of life and makes sure that material and spiritual development happen together. The history goes back to 1972 when the fourth King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk coined the term Gross National Happiness by declaring that GNH is more important than Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Taking a cue from Bhutan, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution ‘Happiness: Towards a holistic approach to development’ in 2011 and urged the member-nations to follow the example of Bhutan to measure happiness and the well-being of people. Thus the first World Happiness Report was published in 2012.

India’s ranking in the latest report is a cause of concern. But, then again India is a huge country having diverse cultures, languages, preferences and, most importantly, different mindsets. So, the level of happiness may differ from place to place, region to region. It’s a contentious issue whether Gallup could collect the right samples covering all these aspects.

If we look at it in the context of Assam, it may not be surprising to find the level of happiness of the people differing from the rest of the country. People of Assam are known as easy going, atithiparayan (hospitable) and the place is known as a land of lahe lahe (slow moving). So, our needs and expectations may not be too high to remain unhappy like the other Indians. We are not in a hurry to do anything; even development also can happen lahe lahe. We are quite content with small things, promises and gestures shown by others.

With this perception the political parties and leaders, in recent election campaigns, have made abundance of promises, made various claims of their achievements, taken names of various stalwarts of the land and abused our enemies perceived by them to win us emotionally. Somehow we gave them this impression to take us for granted.

Our needs are so small that a few thousand bucks coming to our accounts without doing anything can make us happy and content. We feel fortunate that without doing anything we are earning something. We do not require jobs, we are happy with the freebies. We feel happy to get a fish occasionally rather than learning how to catch it daily.

We feel so happy when a small amount is granted for our namghars and temples the total of which may be a fraction of the amount spent on advertisement by these political parties during the election campaign. We feel happy at keeping us engaged in abusing religious opponents. We take pride when the first electric locomotive reaches Rangiya, a ‘sign’ of development, when some places in the country are going for bullet trains and contemplating to go for hyperloop trains. We take pride when Bollywood stars donate for flood relief in Assam. We only show concern when the national media does not cover the Assam floods.

We feel happy to have a couple of hundred units free electricity every month, knowing very well how many hours of electricity we get daily in villages, if not to speak about urban areas.

Our day is done if a politician comes from Delhi and plucks tea; we feel elated if we are promised with bikes; we feel rich and powerful when we get a few thousand of rupees to run after political parties during election times – the list of our ‘happiness’ goes on.

Gallup failed to take sufficient samples from this part of the country; otherwise, it would have saved India’s embarrassing position to some extent in the eyes of the world. We would not have been far away from the Scandinavian countries in happiness count!

While happiness is a very broad subject, psychologists say that it is basically the emotional state of a person. It is related to balance of emotions and life satisfaction. A person needs to be happy by balancing the emotional state although it is quite challenging in today’s fiercely competitive and mechanical environment. It is linked to the socio-economic environment as well where politics and governance play roles quite a bit.

In today’s gung-ho environment, we have to be demanding, and cannot afford to be complacent. We have to be mentally tough to keep fighting till we achieve what we want. Under these circumstances, remaining content and happy is not that simple.

But this demanding and fighting spirit of Assamese people was not seen in the recent Assam election as the political parties tried to appease us as if we are a bunch of really lazy people, who do not want to work. They projected us as people with limited aspirations and needs which can be settled with a few bucks, can be easily brainwashed through some misleading advertisements and public utterings. They mesmerized us with narratives that are far away from our developmental needs.

It was worrying to see the indifference to unemployment; indifference to exploitative wages; indifference to uncertain business in trade and commerce, to lack of investment and industrialization; indifference to yawning economic gap with the States of other regions; indifference to recurring flood problems; indifference to single track railway system in this age of development, to name a few. We failed to question these leaders and make them accountable. We are happy with what we have and what has been promised as usual.

Governments will come and go , and no government is different. It is up to us how we can make them work for our development to bring our State at par with other developed States of the country.

Time has come for us to come out of the comfort zones and start questioning and demanding. We should not be allowed to be used and purchased at the cost of our development. Remaining unhappy in pursuit of development of the State should not be a big deal.

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