There was a spurt in the sale of antacids in India after it became public that India was ranked lower than Pakistan in the happiness index which has been based on a poll conducted by an organization affiliated to the UN. Most Indians believe that Pakistan has declared a thousand-year war on India on multiple fronts- not just Kashmir and cricket. This is despite the common threads- brown skin, similar languages, common abuses, masaledaar food, Bollywood, Lata Mangeshkar, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Ghulam Ali.
Our knee jerk reaction should be to blame ‘foreign conspiracy’ for these findings. In the seventies and eighties, ‘foreign hand’ (implying the CIA) was implicated in most of the mis-happenings in the country ranging from assassinations to riots. There could be some truth in this- there is no smoke without a fire. However, the Indian government took sweet revenge by sending gifted persons like Sunder Pichai, Satya Nadella and others to infiltrate corporate America via a secret mission. As a cover up, Indians kept on lamenting about ‘brain drain’. Nowadays, the Yankees are good friends (somehow our foreign policy makers don’t believe in having best friends- a hangover of the impotent non-aligned movement). Presently, the finger should be pointed out at those neighbouring countries who enjoy ‘kalesh’. The opposition can fish in troubled waters by labelling the government inept while the ruling party can claim that the opposition parties are in league with foreign players to defame the government.
Also, there might have been technical flaws in the study. In some part of our country, side to side head bobbing denotes a yes- it could have been taken as a no for an answer. Also, if India lost a cricket or hockey match to Pakistan on that day, there could be mass depression. The results could have been skewed in our favour if we had presented to the survey team, persons who are named Happy (commonly found in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi).
There are so many reasons for happiness in our country which others can’t comprehend. Even the sins committed by us in our past lives help us- we attribute most of the bumps in the road of our life to them. We have celebrations all the time- a child born to cousin’s nephew’s brother-in-law, marriage parties where excesses are the norm and year-round festivals (we don’t leave foreign festivals also). Then there are birthday parties, anniversary celebrations and fairs. Every spell of rain is an excuse to dig into piping hot fritters.
Kids and youngsters receive love in wholesale. Elders get a lot of respect whether they have been saintly, ungodly or anything in-between. We also get pleased when a wicked friend is saddled with an even more wicked spouse or when the movie of the film star whom we hate flops. Indians are a happy lot.
Quantifying happiness is as vague a concept as quantifying beauty!
Jas Kohli is a noted humour writer. His published work includes three bestselling humour novels- ‘Anything to Look Hot’, ‘Lights! Scalpel! Romance!’ and ‘Lights! Wedding! Ludhiana!’.