UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL
Conquest of happiness has meant different facets to different generations. Our forefathers took pride in scholarship, a spirit of sacrifice and solicitude for the welfare of others. Gone are those days. Today, we only are for ourselves. We are jealous of the advancement of our neighbours. We end up tense and unhappy.
The term ‘happy’ has a variety of meanings and it stands for lucky, fortunate, content, and glad or apt. Happiness lies within the mind of the individual. No amount of external wealth may be successful in making him happy.
Our forefathers had a life-style, very much different from what we have today. Their life was based mainly on the concept of “simple living and high thinking”. People were satisfied with whatever they obtained after working hard. Excess material wealth did not mean much for them. They indulged in charity, etc. Rather, it was spiritual and mental satisfaction and enrichment, which they aimed at.
The structural framework of our forefathers’ families was different from ours. They lived in a cohesive joint family structure where they were happier than us. They cared for each other. The siblings grew up with their cousins. The bond of love, which they shared, cannot be easily found in the nuclear family of the day. The family provided an emotional cushioning effect against tension and stress.
However, in the nuclear family, we are detached from the feeling towards our kith and kin. At times, even the cousins do not recognize each other, when they happen to meet after a long time. Life has become very self-centred. Disputes in the family may lead to divisions. This may finally destroy the family psyche.
The Joint Family system provided a proper environment for the child to grow up. The values of respect, tolerance, responsibility, integrity etc., were internalized in the child. In the long run, they became better human beings, compared to those in the present generation. Our forefathers felt happiest, if their children became “honest” human beings. But today, we are happy only if we attain our ends. We are ready to resort to any means to attain the end. Our philosophy of life has turned totally Machiavellian.
Today’s generation is totally engrossed in following the West blindly. One does not take pride in Indian culture and indigenous goods. But our forefathers, living in Swadeshi days, took immense pride in wearing khadi. Their self-confidence and self-respect made them contented men. They were never ashamed of being an “Indian”. They believed in being satisfied with whatever their motherland could provide for. This was the key to their happiness.
However today, the common man’s demands are unlimited, due to the effects of globalization and liberalization Consumerism is the key word. The media has played an important role in increasing his demands. Today, to satisfy his demands, he can sacrifice his integrity and sense of sincerity. In this manner, he may be materially “happy”, but his guilty mind will always prick his conscience. This will prevent him from actually being happy or glad.
Our forefathers had a vision to make India the best. To attain his ambition, they were ready to make all sorts of personal sacrifices. Their happiness lay in that of the millions of Indian brothers and sisters.
On the other hand, today, people are ready to migrate to the West, to enjoy a comfortable life. They run away from the evils of the Indian society, without trying to remedy them. Often, they become successful in foreign lands. But in the process, they become alienated from their motherland. The nostalgic feelings of their childhood and the relationships they left behind linger on which cannot make them happy. Distance from their ailing parents is a worrying factor and keep them perturbed. Moreover, it is not easy for them to return, as their children will not be able to adjust to the Indian environment and the way of life. Thus, his is a crisis position and a frame of mind worse than his forefathers.
In the present era, we function like ”machines”, unlike our forefathers; Life has become standardized, routines and monotonous. Social interactions have decreased. People are now glued to the television and computers. They are making friends worldwide, but are not aware of the names of their neighbours. This sort of life cannot lead to happiness. It can only lead to unlimited psychological disasters. A sense of alienation grips them.
In science and technology we have developed far more man our forefathers did. We have made the world a better place, as well as a worse place, to live in, through our several inventions. On the positive side, for example, invention of medicine has prevented diseases. This has made us happier than our forefathers. But negatively, we have invented nuclear bombs, which are lethal to mankind. So, whether we will be happier than our forefathers will only depend on the judicious use of these inventions by human beings.
In our generation, tradition and modernity have intermingled to form our special system. We are happier than our forefathers in being able to lessen the evils of rigid caste system, untouchability, child marriage, etc. But we have failed to totally eradicate them. The electoral politics has made use of caste system, through the issuance of party tickets on the basis of caste, community, religion etc.
India, after independence had tried to provide for a ‘secular’ State, to prevent clashes on the basis of religion. Our forefathers were unhappy, regarding the communal violence in the pre-and post-partition days. The situation has not much changed. The communal clashes in the wake of demolition of Babri Masjid, is a case in point. We are still unhappy. Moreover, criminalization, corruption and politicization of every aspect of society have taken place. The Present scenario is such that it is very difficult to uproot them. So, regarding the evils of our society, we are still unhappy like our forefathers.
Internationally, our forefathers lived in ‘Bharat’, which was being exploited by the British. They visualized India to be among the great powers, morally, intellectually and scientifically. Their vision and hard work have led India, to develop a lot. It is a predominant power in the Indian subcontinent today. Though our neighbours have failed to keep up with democracy, we have been successful in adhering to the democratic norms of periodical elections and parliamentary government expect during the emergency period in the 1970s.
Our food production has increased enormously after the Green and White Revolutions. In most areas, we can sustain ourselves on the food front. Industrial production and export levels have also gone up. These achievements have made us happier than our forefathers. Moreover, we are politically independent.
In recent years, we have gone for liberalization and globalization economy has been exposed to the foreign multi-nationals. Many forefathers would have objected to this liberalization. They would if it is back to the days of colonialism represented by the East India Company. We might have to face the same menace, which our forefathers fought against the ‘drain theory propounded by Dadabhai Naoroji, will again be relevant if multinational companies are allowed to invest in all sectors of the economy. The economic imperialism would soon lead the political one, which will surely make us unhappy.
In fine, we are not happy the way our forefathers were. Traditional teachers took pride in their poverty but scholarship. Despite being poor, they offered food to their students free. They shared poverty and took immense pleasure in communitarian living, higher moral and intellect attainments. Today we dismiss it as folly.
But even with the electronic and other gadgets, we lack the psychological fulfillment our forefathers enjoyed. Demands for commodities beget more needs, but no inner satisfaction. Moreover, in the post-modern world, the distinction between right and wrong is slowly melting away and leading to intense mental tension and unhappiness.