Saturday, November 01, 2008

Prosperity but not Happiness

Gurcharan Das, in one of his editorials at TOI said: India is giving prosperity but not happiness.

I cannot put it in a better way. Right now, we are bringing in wealth into our nation, but that is not translating into happiness. Just look at the recent Bangalore Airport issue- HAL which was convenient to many people. It was never developed to handle many passengers. It was always a tough time to get in and get out, with many taxis standing on the road completely blocking the exit and the entry making the whole episode quite painful. They could have easily upgraded it, made it two-tier or three-tier, one for departure, one for arrival. They could have made parking lots of three storied building to accommodate the taxis.

Instead, they came up with an idea to build the airport really far from the city. Actually that was a welcoming thought. Keeping the airport far away from the city makes sense, provided there is excellent connectivity from different parts of the city to the airport. Now, that’s where we completely suck. We have never provided our citizens with basic connectivity- forget excellent connectivity. Now, the travel to the new airport is a bigger nightmare taking many hours. There is no metro, and there are not many alternate roads to that airport. The only big road that is proposed is still under construction and lies along industrial parks further congesting it.

We just don’t know how to make our lives easier and happier.

I have a baby now and I feel like taking her out for a walk but that is not possible. The roads are always clogged, and one always has to watch for the next vehicle that will bump into you. The roads don’t have pavements and they are always dusty. Walking on the road is not a simple straight thing – one always has to dodge many things making the walk a painful exercise.

Yes, everybody has a car, but there are no decent walkways. That’s how we build our nation- bring in prosperity, but no happiness. The list is endless.

We build apartment complexes, but there is no room for parking for visitors. We build ramps but we put a bus stop right at the entrance. We use allow gaps in the dividers, but no separate road to make U-turn. We build 3-road lanes, but no place for a bus to stop. We build software parks, but no big roads to reach them. We build hardware parks, but there is no road. We build theme parks, but no safety precautions. We give out popcorn, but no place to put the trash. We build parks, but build a small access way that causes stampedes. The list is endless.

We give prosperity to our people but no happiness. A little sacrifice, a little precaution, a little consideration, a little forethought, is all we need, and yet that is starkly missing.

PS: I see three kinds of respondents to such complaints I make.

One would respond like this: I don’t know which part of India you live in. But definitely, it’s not as bad as you project it. Where I live, there are nice promenades, paved footpaths, rolling hills, green grass, and lovely mornings. I think you should know that India is very different and has all kinds of things- good things and bad things. Did you ever try to take a walk in Brooklyn?

Second one would respond like this: Why do you always complain? Do you know why we don’t have excellent pavements? Did you ever try to analyze the situation? It’s because of [corruption], [overpopulation], [greedy politicians], [etc]. I wish you try to solve some of these issues instead of just complaining on your blog.

Third one would respond like this: You just don’t know how to seek happiness, that’s all. I don’t think what you describe are problems at all. It all depends on how you deal with it. I get up at 3 AM, pack nice breakfast, and then take my baby in my Mercedes Benz, with one chauffer and two body guards, and drive just 20 km away to a nice park, and then take a nice unhindered walk. You should do the same, instead of trying to get those amenities closer to your home. That’s how one should live in India.

And of course, there is this fourth kind who understands what I am talking about.


  1. Mercedes Benz approach is very amusing, and to the point too! :-)

    We dont know how to solve problems, but we really really know how to work around the problems. Adaptive, we are!

    Member of the fourth kind,

  2. I am the fifth kind - your happiness has nothing to do with the things outside - seek it within you :)

  3. Nice Post.
    "We just don’t know how to make our lives easier and happier"

    That is true vikadakavi "we really know how to make the probelms,work around the problems(with no good solutions) & live with the problems " .



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