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How to be a happy Indian

Trying to stay happy for a day is like being a liberal after the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election results — the universe keeps telling you it is pointless. This I learned the hard way on March 20, the International Day of Happiness. If it is not the news, it is the views that drain the joy. A whiny left, a boring centre, and a scary right is enough to leave anyone politically depressed.

Even Yoga, the fount of inner peace, is problematic now with no clarity on politically correct asanas. One wouldn’t want to take the risk with an improper Surya Namaskar. Nowadays, even our Yogis do not come across as paradigms of happiness.

There is a heart-warming story behind the International Day of Happiness, of an orphan adopted from the streets of Kolkata who grew up to launch a campaign lobbying all the member states of the United Nations for recognition of happiness as a fundamental human right and goal. A UN resolution authored by that orphan, Jayme Illien, established the International Day of Happiness. It promotes “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples.” In short, it is the kind of resolution that a ‘JNU type’ might quote in love letters. Throw in climate change and secularism and we have “anti-national” erotica.

Tradition of being happy in India

The patriots, of course, do not need any UN resolution to be happy when there is a great cultural tradition of happiness on tap. The UN is anyway a great liberal conspiracy that values things like the Human Development Index and Gross National Happiness while it should be appreciating our GDP growth rate. We don’t mind the occasional UNESCO Awards for Best National Anthem and Best Prime Minister, though.

The United States Declaration of Independence famously enshrines the founding principles of that nation as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. The framers of our Constitution had such a tough time ensuring life and liberty for all in 448 Articles that there was not much space or time left to legalise happiness or its pursuit. So in India we are left to pursue happiness as a private enterprise, with no government subsidy.

But India is a land of opportunities. Happiness is yours for the taking. Happiness could be the Tatkal ticket that you managed to book. It could be the bribe you didn’t have to pay. It could be standing for the national anthem before a Shahrukh Khan movie. It could be the digital wallet on your 2G phone. It could be that feeling of being able to withdraw your own cash from the bank. It could be the right to religion. It could be the right surname. Happiness could even be your Aadhaar number.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 9:05:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/how-to-be-a-happy-indian/article17707854.ece

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