India may be behind as far as development goes, but Indians are far happier than most in the planet. Certainly, more than the richer lot in G-8. (courtesy blog.christopherbaan.org)
We were 125 on the happiness index back then. Wonder if we are still 125.
I move around… I observe people… I look at the environment … and I get a sense that we are an extremely unhappy lot…
We are afraid… we are very worried and doomsday is round the corner ( I sound like the guy I have seen in movies… carrying a placard that says “end is near” )
And I am not talking about Ambanis and Birlas and such others in this country. The only thing they are probably scared about right now is – will their billion dollar house create controversy (when net profit is down second quarter in the row) or the fact that Mumbai Indians probably wont make the semis (hell I spend US$ 5 million to put the Idea logo on their shirts)… No I am not talking about them… I am talking about the average joe indians.
Check out the person sitting in the car next to you at the traffic light (or a bike or scooter or even walking) … does he or she look happy? Yes on the face of it… they probably do… but if there was a mechanism to peep into their soul… I bet things would be lot different.
And no I dont think its about the economic slowdown… terrorist attacks… losing jobs… worrying about layoffs or about the dismal nature of Indian politics… I think somewhere down the line… as a combination of everything… we have become fatalist.
We are pretending for everyone… at work.. on facebook… on text messages… at home in front of loved ones… with friends… with colleagues…
Pretending to be happy… pretending to be carefree… pretending to be high up on every curve… planning the next holiday… planning the next party… seen at the pub… seen at the restaurants… seen on page 3..
But when the darkness falls… and its time to sleep… eyes take a while to close… breathing of your loved ones next to you.. which used to be a lullaby a while back… its a reminder… reminder to do something… reminder to stop running to stay in the same place and change track… which again has its own set of fears…
I guess why this is happening is because we have lost our reason to be happy… Its been lost in the whole materialistic new India that happened post liberalisation… From the days of scracity, we were suddenly open to goodies… goodies we had only heard about but never seen up close or experienced… and there was money too in the economy… after all if you let the products come into the market, you need to ensure there is money too to buy them. Life had become one big happy shopping cart…
And banks were going overboard to please the customers… Turning our noses at all the public sector banks, we made a bee line for foreign banks… credit cards.. loans to buy cars… loans to buy houses… loans for holidays… anything and everything was available. Shops were full – with people and products…
Advertising agencies had a great time… selling products people didnt need… and selling lot of creative work too (Cannes was beckoning!)
And then things started going wrong… And let me tell you things were going wrong much before this “so called recession” Recession I believe is a Nazisque conspiracy to purge every person who does not have money or does not make enough or cant help corporate head honchos make more money
Credit dried up… money dried up… and let not the government and stock market fool you. ICICI bank today doesnt want to give money… but only wants money. HDFC must have spend some amount to put their logo on the Rajasthan Royals tees… they need the money back too… Though I think HDFC is probably doing the right things… at least they have backed the right horse
We were living beyond our means and never thought about it… We were optimistic about the future… India was shining you see… to many it still does… (I am one of them)
The mistake we made is that we started believing that its the products, brands and all things materialistic that define being happy (we still do)
And now when we have to stretch out lot more than earlier (easy credit is not available… banks are reducing credit limits)… we think that the things have gone bad.. blame the government (by the way government has never been responsible for anything good that has happened to this country)… blame the economy… blame everyone
And we are unhappy. Why did we ever believe that the companies that we work for.. are going to take care of us… comapnies love to point to the economy and come out with a new list of laid off people… The only thing these companies ever wanted were profits and more profits… and they are not wrong… that is why a business exists…
Happiness comes from content… from being at peace with oneself… both are in short supply right now… but we cant let the world know… about the unhappiness.. about the intense stress… about the turmoil… as the lyrics from a Billy Joel song go…
“Well we all have a face
That we hide away forever
And we take them out and
When everyone has gone
Some are satin some are steel
Some are silk and some are leather
They’re the faces of the stranger…But we love to try them on”
All marketers and advertisers… how about selling some true happiness? How about selling some hope? How about selling some optimism? How about holding hands of these people and letting them know that a business can only be a business when it has got happy customers… and happiness here is not about CRM and service (they are hygiene factors now). Happiness is about the joy of living life for life itself and brands & products are there just to help.
Wonder if companies can think like that? wonder if they would ever realise that its a vicious cycle… people have no money or rather insecurity does not let them spend… they cant sell… they cant sell and they cant have profits… they cant have profits and they would let more people go… and so it goes on.
Corporates… governments (and did anyone in all this election campaign ever hear the parties talking about the plight of people losing jobs?) and we as a society have a responsibility towards each other…