(Hindustan Times, April 1: MP wants more smiles. CM Chouhan announces ministry of happiness)
Ungrateful wretches. The government is doing so much for you and yet you aren’t happy. It gives you Start Up India, Digital India, Stand Up India, Clean India and what do we ingrates do? We rank a measly 118th in the World Happiness Survey. We narrowly squeak past Myanmar and are just a few places above Congo.
Look, everyone has problems. They have huge problems in Iraq, with half the country in the grip of ISIS and bombs going off every day. Do the Iraqis whine and wail? No sir, they shrug off the bombs, tut-tut a bit at ISIS and then go and have a blast. That’s why they rank 112 in the survey, well above India. Look at Somalia, ruined by poverty and piracy. When the happiness surveyors came, did they complain bitterly? Nope, they probably pointed proudly to how well the kidnapping industry was doing. The upshot: Somalia ranks 76th, far above India.
You think the countries at the top of the happiness table don’t have problems? Consider numero uno Denmark. Do you know the income tax rate there is over 50%? They patriotically pretend to be euphoric about all that stifling socialism. Do the people of New Zealand, where they have more sheep than people, moan and groan about the stink of sheep f**t that pervades the land? No, they say they prefer sheep to people and therefore rank number 8 in the happiness league. How does Israel, hemmed in by enemies, rank number 11? Because they look at the Palestinians and thank Yahweh they are not them. The unkindest cut is Pakistan ranking number 92, much above India. They must have interviewed the terrorists there.
What’s worse is the way we treat those who want to make us happy. The IPL folks gave us the upbeat ‘Ek India Happywala’ ads and instead of praising them we try to scrap the IPL matches on the specious grounds they’re using up precious water during a terrible drought. No gratitude, I tell you. The guy who called himself the king of good times has been hounded out of the country. And we’re busy running down the chap who says acche din are round the corner.
Several countries have taken remedial measures. Bhutan has arranged for its citizens to have a rollicking time measuring gross national happiness. Venezuela, a country with inflation at 186% and shortages of everything, including toilet paper, ranks number 44 because they created a ‘vice ministry of supreme social happiness’ back in 2013. The UAE has unveiled a ministry of happiness. The Thai military boss, after seizing power, penned a ditty called ‘Returning Happiness to the People’.
Back home, Shivraj Chouhan says Madhya Pradesh will be the first state in India to have a ‘happiness ministry’. It should have at least two specialised departments: The Department of Grinning and Bearing It and the Departments of Fake Laughs. We must declare unhappiness anti-national.
So next year, when the happiness surveyors come around again, do your patriotic duty, grin from ear to ear, lie a lot and tell them you’re proud to be happy. Or else…..
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed are personal