By Pabitra Chaudhuri
W e all talk about GOP and how India is moving up in the GDP scale but we hardly think about gross happiness index (GHI). That GDP forms not a very considerable part in total happiness is forgotten. The package of happiness contains a better quality and purposeful life. In this total happiness index these are various elements, which need to be included. Obviously economic well-being and freedom from poverty are part of total happiness index. Many factors like good hygiene and health, right to education for children, proper environment, fresh air and safe drinking water, better security of life and property, peace and prosperity and above all democratic freedom are integral parts of the total happiness index.
When we talk of GHI, we must know and perceive what is “quality living”. In this quality living ‘basket’ what are the ingredients to be included is the question. Obviously economic well-being is a big factor but beyond that there are many ingredients , which contribute to the happiness index. It is a commonplace practice with us to wallow at the poor “character” of our people, little thinking that we are all part of what we call the mosaic of India.
If our tiol character does not fulfill the definition of good character, India would not have progressed as we have been doing during the last so many years or so with the background of our ancient civilization. A forecast which could well be realistic is that by not too distant time, there will be only two great economic powers India and Chi, while the western world and the USA which is still a Mecca for immigration and which is ruling the roost now will be in the economic back-burner. No wonder today large contingents of business delegations are coming from these countries to seek market footholds in India. There is an economic flow towards India and the fact that US dollar has lost it’s strength shows the trend of the shift of economic power. But merely being economic power, does not mean happiness of people in proper connotation.
Gone are the days when Indians seeking good quality living used to rush abroad and that was the most sought after goal. Today, there is a back-trek to India where people are finding a kind of happiness in living here more than which they have been experiencing in the West. It has become an accepted fact of life that improvement in the quality of living is a result of individual effort, which multiplied many folds becomes a social endeavor.
Money by itself is important to form the basket of total happiness apart from education, health and nutrition, physical safety and spiritual fulfillment are important. The freedom to profess one’s own ideas along with what Amartya Sen said — the ability to go about without shame — is something worthwhile for quality living. There are people who have all that money can get them but many of them complain that peace of mind is lacking. A life-style, which is not based on human ethos, does contribute to one’s happiness.
Another factor that contributes towards a better meaning of life leading to a positive attitude is spirituality or conformation to certain ideals. The aspiration of a person is to be a good human being and if his conscience is clean, he will be happy and make others happy also, thereby the entire society.
We are in a moment of history where the country has to be passiote about heralding the attainment of a good happiness index, yet it has to be realized that total happiness cannot be achieved at any given time. Only the intentions have to be vibrant, rich in mental make-up and singular effort to spread happiness around.
Total happiness isn’t important constituent of total quality of maging life whichever station a person maybe. It is the question of getting involved and passiote in attaining total quality status. Even a single person could do a lot and quite rightly there is a dictum that the world is short of one person willing to make a difference. That person could be any one of us.
This is the opportute time to make a determined resolve for building a quality India and make a commitment. This is a challenge for developing a total quality person. In the environment that we have today, it is important that we urgently tackle the question of transformation of human persolity, fully harness his potential and relate individual excellence with social excellence.
Only total quality person can implement total quality magement in any organization — corporate, social or government. What is important is to make one a better human being with the quotient of happiness high — to be bench-marked against the best of the best in the world. He has to acquire a new perspective, a new attitude and a new persolity — an image of quality, consistency, reliability and courage. He has to energize himself — when he does so, not only he permeates within himself, but creates an environment of total happiness.
India is a treasure house of ideals, old world civilization and thoughts, the application of which can transform, elevate and upgrade a persolity.
In the Indian ethos, closeness to divinity is built in and around any work that is performed and is supposed to have a divine spark, which again contributes to total happiness and he can lead himself to a perfection in knowledge, wisdom and excellence with the added potential for self- development and self-improvement.
Another factor which is very much part of Indian ethos in rendering happiness to individuals is Yoga and meditation. Yoga stands for excellence — the word ‘Yoga’ means to yoke — in essence unite, through its practice, one unites body, mind and soul. The exercise keeps one’s mind young, dymic, supple, strong and healthy, improves general wellness of a person, it helps one to focus the eye on any complex problem and solve them. In these rapid and racy days, with the quality of yoga and meditation, he can position himself as a human being of calmness, inner-strength and clarity and thinking.
All in all with the background of Indian ethos and tradition and with the economic advancements that India is making — the goal of attaining of total happiness cannot be far away. In ultimate alysis both GDP and GHI have to go hand in hand, the synthesis of which would make every Indian a happy and contented person. We all need to inspire and endeavor to be better people, better citizens and better embodiment of total quality person. The key to achieve greater happiness is to lead a more radiant and richer life. The only limits of life are those that one sets for himself and sense of fear is nothing more than a mental monster.
We all have to get together to ensure that environment is not plundered in the me of development. Take a leaf from the world’s happiest and our neighboring country Bhutan, where emphasis is laid more on gross happiness than GDP. When you enter into Bhutan from Rangia, you feel the difference — whiff of clean air, green environment and smiling, contented faces welcoming you a mile from the border. One feels the whiff of a happy country.
If every one of us and all of us are determined to clean our door-step, things will be different. This is the least “parivartan” a government should aspire to achieve. Can’t the government and the public get together voluntarily and cut down consumption of petrol/diesel by five litres per month? It will save some energy and reduce pollution to some extent. In order to achieve good happiness index, the government, the people and the NGOs should make concerted effort to bring in a change of an archaic situation and thought.