Friday, 16 March 2018

Has AIMPLB killed the golden goose?

M Rajaque Rahman


In rejecting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s propositions for an out-of-court settlement, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has chosen to play to the gallery rather than weigh the imports of the proposal in the best interest of the community it claims to represent.

A tweet from its official handle quoted its General Secretary Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani as saying AIMLPB rejects Sri Sri’s proposal and asked him “to play his role in the Hindu community to maintain peace if the Supreme Court verdict is not the (its) favour”. Sri Sri had written an open letter to AIMPLB raising some serious apprehensions about how the issue can pan out adversely for the country.

Sounding more like an intimate note to the Muslim community rather than a formal proposal, the letter had listed out the possible scenarios and their adverse ramifications while urging the leaders of both faiths to take this (action) seriously. It also sought to reason how any solution through the court or a through an intervention by the government could be “devastating for the nation at large and the Muslim community in particular”. Though these words of caution from the spiritual leader have been presented as a threat and provocation in certain sections, such apprehensions cannot be blindly dismissed.

With no dearth of fanatical elements on both the sides, it will be foolhardy to totally discount and deny the possibilities of frenzied reactions to a court verdict on the Ayodhya issue. The spectre of a situation where one community openly celebrating a court verdict in its favour and another burning inside with a feeling of being wronged is scary. This possibility of chaos and distrust is probably what Sri Sri meant when he talked about “pushing our country to the brink” if the issue is not resolved tactfully.

Given that Muslims are living in one of the most difficult times across the globe, AIMPLB ought to have taken a wider view of the community’s interest. It’s no rabble-rousing propaganda to say Muslims are in “khatre” of being left out of the national discourse. The political isolation of the community is almost complete. Besides the dwindling representation in Parliament and Legislatures, a leadership vacuum is making the community politically irrelevant. It’s a sad state of affairs that the community, which has given three Presidents and many other political stalwarts, is today being shepherd by people like Assaduddin Owaisi and Badruddin Ajmal, whose only claim to popularity is their penchant for spreading hatred and insecurity.

At the other spectrum, the community has to constantly confront the negative image owing to repeated incidences of Islamic terrorism and the narrative of historical atrocities. With such a harsh ground reality, the community can’t afford to allow a frenzied run-in over the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid issue. What is needed is a tactful master-stroke that will establish the community as magnanimous and peace-loving. It desperately needs a good dose of good press to shrug off the baggage of the past.

From that perspective, AIMPLB has squandered a golden opportunity by summarily rejecting Sri Sri’s proposition. His “best solution” of Muslim bodies gifting the one-acre disputed land for the Ram Temple and the Hindus in return gifting enough land for a grand mosque nearby would have helped the Muslims gain the goodwill of 100 crore Hindus. It could have been a potent and respectable way of integrating with the mainstream and saving the community from further isolation. Most importantly, such an act will also undercut those who are out to “teach Muslims a lesson”. Encouragingly, Sri Sri has spoken about his Art of Living taking the responsibility of organising community celebrations across the country to bring together Muslims and Hindus in a spirit of harmonious coexistent.

It would have been wiser for AIMPLB to pick up the thread and pushed for a settlement that reassures the community like a commitment to maintain the status quo of all other places of worship. At this juncture, Muslims must be willing to undertake any enterprise that will endear the community to the larger world as considerate and generous towards the feelings of millions of Hindus. So what if the enterprise involves giving up claims on Babri Masjid?

(A former business journalist, the author now regularly writes on issues that are relevant to the Idea of India. He tweets @rajaque. He can be reached on rajaque@gmail.com)


Thursday, 8 March 2018

Was Sri Sri indulging in fear-mongering?

Can we totally discount the danger of communal unrest in today's polarized milieu?


M Rajaque Rahman

Was Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar indulging in fear-mongering when he raised the bogey of a Syria-like situation in the country if the Ayodhya issue is not tactfully resolved? Or was he expressing an apprehension that’s genuinely lurking on the horizon?

The debate on the prime time national television and social media has gone along the predictable lines of the political and ideological divide. His statement has been twisted, distorted, quoted, misquoted and tweeted as it suits one’s narrative. Unfortunately, we ended up trivializing an issue that is emotive enough to explode any time. Nobody really displayed the depth to see the import of the statement. 

To be fair to Sri Sri, he didn’t say India will burn if a temple is not built. He only said we could witness extremism and chaos like in Syria if we don’t resolve the issue tactfully. 
Sri Sri’s reference to Syria must have been in the sense of a conflict zone where chaos, distrust and civil war-like situation prevail. Can we totally discount the spectre of such a danger in today's polarized milieu? It's very easy to say India is different, but we have seen many communal riots, sometime over trivial issues.

Any court verdict that entails a winner and a loser could trigger passions irrespective of whichever way it goes and is fought with the risk of damaging the social fabric. As an Indian, and more so as a Muslim, I shiver at the thought of a situation where one community will be openly celebrating a court verdict in its favour and another burning inside with a feeling of being wronged. Sitting in the comforts of a TV studio, it might be easy to say the Supreme Court is seized of the matter and we must wait for the verdict. But what such a verdict could entail on the ground is scary.

It’s not to suggest that the Supreme Court will not be sensitive to all these in its ruling. But the court has limitations and has to go often by the later of the law. While no one has the authority to dishonor any ruling of the Supreme Court, its verdict could create distrust in society. Like the system failure to prevent Barbi Mosque demotion gave boost to home-grown terrorism in the country, an unfavorable verdict could trigger revolt against the system. With no dearth of fanatical elements whose existence hinges on wedging a divide among communities, Sri Sri’s apprehension is no more a figment of imagination.

To be fair to Sri Sri, he didn’t say India could burn if a temple or a mosque is not built. He only said we could witness extremism and chaos as in Syria if we don’t resolve the issue tactfully. Any sane Indian will buy this line of thinking. Unfortunately, a word of caution from Sri Sri is being twisted and presented a threat and provocation.

What Sri Sri is saying is a solution through a court verdict may not be in the best interest of the nation. Even the Supreme Court subscribes to this viewpoint and has almost made it clear that issue is best decided jointly by the two communities. This reading of the case by the apex court needs to be taken seriously as the a conflict that has run on rhetoric for decades and got identified with the astitva and maryada (existence and identity) of two different communities.
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Without a softening of hearts and goodwill, it’s impossible to permanently resolve an emotive and vexed dispute like the Ayodhya. Sri Sri has been saying, courts cannot mend hearts. It’s very much possible that even if the Mandir is built, the problem might come back again in the future as one community is bound to feel alienated. That’s why this national endeavour of an amicable out-of-court settlement is so critical for the nation.

From that perspective, Sri Sri’s pursuit of enlisting anyone and everyone who can influence public opinion in favour a negotiated settlement and create an ecosystem for dialogue must be lauded. That people are willing to talk about it itself is no mean breakthrough and augur well for communal harmony in the country.

As the stakes are high, it’s natural that there will be clashes of egos, mudslinging and even sabotage! But the hard language used by some leaders from both sides to oppose the efforts of constructing a mutual understanding doesn’t send good omen for the country. It appears some people are hell bent to milk the issue as a cash cow. An early and amicable resolution of the dispute is in the interest of the nation as it will also prevent rabble-rousing and polarisation along communal lines.

(The author is a former business journalist and now regularly writes on issues that are relevant to the Idea of India. He tweets @rajaque. He can be reached on rajaque@gmail.com)

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Can we allow Ayodhya talks to be bombed?

M Rajaque Rahman
Will #AyodhyaBribeBomb end all out-of-court settlement efforts? This was the epicenter of a recent prime-time debate in the wake of allegations of underhand bargaining. I wish it were that simple and straightforward for India! The matter at hand is not merely about who gets a Mandir and who loses a Masjid.

Sitting in the comforts of a TV studio, it might be easy to say the Supreme Court is seized of the matter and we must wait for the verdict. But what such a verdict could entail on the ground is scary. Any court verdict, irrespective of whichever way it goes, would be fraught with great risks for the nation. Even if the court rules in favour of the Muslims, the resultant feeling of humiliation and provocation among the Hindus will make it a costly victory. And if it is the other way, the jubilation among Hindus will only further vitiate the precarious communal equations. Even if the Mandir is built, the problem might come back again in the future as one community is bound to feel alienated.

Seen from this context, India can’t afford to take the shortcut of a legal verdict. The chances of an amicable solution may be very bleak, but the efforts towards it cannot, and must not, be abandoned. Unsubstantiated allegations of seeking or offering bribe are too vague a reason to stop us from such a crucial enterprise. Even if there have been demands for an underhand deal, the wise approach at the moment will be to reject and isolate them and move on. India cannot afford to throw the baby out with the bathwater on this issue.

This where the presence of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to spearhead the mission and rally around those who understand the gravity of the situation will be of immense significance. For one, Sri Sri is someone who is unlikely to be deterred by any negative propaganda or bargaining. From the beginning, he has made it very clear that any settlement must be out of goodwill, not a buyout! “Soudha se nahi, ………,” he has always maintained.

His pursuit of enlisting anyone and everyone who can influence public opinion in favour a negotiated settlement and create an ecosystem for dialogue is vital here as it’s impossible to resolve an emotive and vexed dispute like the Ayodhya without a softening of hearts and goodwill. That people are willing to talk about it itself is no mean breakthrough in a conflict that has run on rhetoric for decades and got identified with the astitva and maryada (existence and identity) of two different communities.

Sri Sri has been able to broad-base his outreach with the Muslim community. If it turns out that Moulana Salman Nadvi’s change of heart isn’t driven by motives of personal gains, then the credit must be given to Sri Sri for perpetually engaging key stakeholders. His open-ended efforts to connect heart to heart can play a vital role in preparing the stakeholders for negotiations and compromises. So far, he has been quite successful in raising the comfort level and averting the fear of being pushed into adapting to a premeditated agenda.

As the stakes are high, it’s natural that there will be clashes of egos, mudslinging and even sabotage! But the hard language used by some leaders from both sides to oppose the efforts of constructing a mutual understanding doesn’t send good omen for the country. It appears some people are hell bent to milk the issue as a cash cow.

It will be in the interest of the country to allow the progressive individuals and groups like Sri Sri to work for pulling through a settlement that appeases the majority sentiment and reassures the minority community. If they could get around the nation to building a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya without hurting the sentiments and interest of the Muslim community, it would be almost like a heavenly miracle.

An early and amicable resolution of the dispute is in the interest of the nation as it will also prevent rabble-rousing and polarisation along communal lines. But the road ahead needs to be steered with caution by a driver who can manoeuvre with the sensitivities of an emotive issue that the Ayodhya is. Is Sri Sri primed to transcend the negative agendas and lead the way? 

(The author keenly follows and write on issues that are relevant to the Idea of India. He tweets @rajaque)

Do prayers have a religion?

M Rajaque Rahman
The fuss over the secularity of the morning prayers in the state-sponsored Kendriya Vidyalayas is not just hawkish, but also a marked display of ignorance of the very concept of prayer itself. And as it stands, the Supreme Court will have to rule on whether prayer has a religion. I pray (pun Intended) the Apex Court would go by the spirit and save the education sector from getting trapped in the polarised and prejudiced milieu in the country.

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For the record, the prayer in contention is a combination of a song in Hindi preceded and followed by a Sanskrit sloka. The song is a simple call of the heart to fill it with knowledge and purify the soul. The opening sloka is the popular “Asato ma sad gamaya…” which is an expression of the longing to move from untruth to truth; from darkness to light and from death to immortality. The closing sloka is a prayer seeking to move together and not to hate each other.

The prayer doesn’t invoke any deity or God. There is no polytheism, no segregation, no discrimination. And that has been the core of all common prayers of this nation. Take for example the most popular Gayatri Mantra.  It doesn’t invoke God for any small individual comfort. Instead, it calls out for inspiration and guidance for our intellect. And, where else can one find a more inclusive wish for well-being of all than in the meaning of “Sarve bhavantu sukhinah…”? This elementary prayer wishes happiness, goodness, and freedom from misery for all.

If such genuine calls for righteousness, wisdom, eternal light, happiness and wellness of all beings are to be called non-secular and unconstitutional, then the cry for amending the Constitution will only start looking justified.

The point is that these prayers are universal in the language and the content. They unite the entire creation into a bond of divine blessing, and they nowhere limit whom you should pray to. Allah, Jesus, Krishna, Ganesh or Shiva don’t seem to matter. Hence, there is no question of contravening with the Article 28(1) of not providing religious instruction.

The ignorant attitude that everything that has its origin in India is Hindu and non-secular has done a lot of harm to the nation. In the guise of being secular, we have denied the nation from making such deep prayers  for righteousness and wisdom a part of the national consciousness. Those who protest such prayers in the name of secularism not only expose their ignorance of their meaning but also do the biggest disservice to the ideals of secularism. If everybody is blessed with these attributes, the essence of secularism will be a fait accompli.

The prayers which are the being questioned are more of spiritual pursuits of attaining highest attributes in life rather than being ritualistic and superstitious. They are an important part of the indigenous repository which is full of values that are essential for promoting unity and universalism and weeding out fanaticism from young minds. It’s a national tragedy that an aspiration for such higher attributes isn’t inculcated through our education system.

The time has come to sensitize all Indians to praying for the highest attributes in life and imbibe the human values of compassion, caring and sharing. That alone can prevent fanaticism in young minds. The best place to do it is at schools. And, it’s not a tall order. We just need to find non-controversial ways of spiritualising Indian education. The need of the hour is to shift the national discourse from saffronisation to spiritualisation and come up with a policy that will integrate the ancient treasures for which generations of people from all over the world have been coming to India.

(The author keenly follows and write on issues that are relevant to the Idea of India. He tweets @rajaque)

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

When doctors need emergency treatment!

Anasuya
The recent incidents of reputed private hospital declaring dead a baby along with its stillborn twin when it was actually alive or another one overcharging the family of a seven-year-old dengue patient at an average of over Rs 1 lakh per day, have once again raised the alarm bell that all may not be well with the tribe of healers. The prevailing sickness may be much more critical than what is assumed and must need an emergency treatment!

Such incidents justify the narrative that some doctors might be fishing in the pond of clueless customers. The scale of suspicion might be exaggerated, but there is no denying that the lure for money is making doctors happy when they see sickness! But it will be too cruel to cast all doctors in one mould. There are doctors who heal. There are doctors who consider a pep-talk session with the patient equally, if not more, important as the medicine they prescribe. For me, there are two types of doctors. One spiritual and other non-spiritual. Not in the sense of being religious, but being holistic in seeing life.

The first type honours the power of the spirit and aspires to become a part of its healing mechanism. They aren't rigid and procedure-driven. They take a holistic view of the patient's condition and are willing to adopt a multidimensional approach to heal it. Such doctors need to be supported by a providing an ecosystem that encourages a systematic integration of the traditional and more holistic approaches like Ayurveda into the healthcare system.

The other type sees illness as their opponents that needed to be outsmarted or out-procedured. If their's will be done, nobody will ever die. They call it alive as long as they are breathing, even if it's ventilator-induced. Sometimes, they conduct emergency surgeries on "dead bodies". They care very little about wellness. They just love to handle interesting cases and often forget no patient ever wants to be an interesting case.

Despite the ugly head of the black sheep rearing more often, the former tribe is not extinct yet. But there are enough pointers to suggest that the rapid rise in C-Section deliveries, spinal fusion surgeries and the like might be driven to some extent by doctors' financial incentives. Experts say that more than half of the spinal fusions performed globally could be without good reasons. Remember the ‘Operation Jonk' expose in 2014 that suggested some doctors earn as high as 40-50 percent commission on the tests being prescribed by them!

But it's not just money though. There is a huge problem of approach and orientation. As doctors become more and more specialised, the sphere of possibilities has been curtailed. To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Like that, surgeons like to solve medical problems by cutting, just as physicians first seek solutions with drugs. And they don't see anything beyond. Their vision becomes so narrowed that they can't see illness beyond the problem of pain. They end up becoming problem fixers rather than healers.

And as they become more and more worldly, the stress level also seems to be catching up and eating into their commitment to value life. It may be time for doctors to take some treatments to free themselves of stress and maintain a centred and equanimous mind. Doctors with a meditative mind is a good news for patients as they more likely to have a stronger intuitive power. They are more likely to arrive at a more precise diagnosis, and with fewer tests and imaging. Probably, the tribe of healers need a deep-breathing therapy and a dose of Sudarshan Kriya and the like.

A concoction of medication and meditation may just be the right prescription the doctors should be writing for themselves. And for the patients, they have to just do a scan of the doctor before he could wheel them in for an expensive scan!

(The author is a social commentator who posses a pair of prejudice-free eyes and is free from envy and jealousy.)

Friday, 23 December 2016

India beeps as a beacon as Sri Sri wows LatAm

M Rajaque Rahman
The sight of a 15,000-plus crowd joyously swaying to a Sanskrit song in far-off Rio de Jenerio during one of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s recent event was certainly exhilarating. But dismissing it as spiritual seekers getting mesmerized about their guru would be like missing the plot while writing a review of a Hollywood blockbuster!




Reports suggest the wave Sri Sri created during his recent 21-day, eight-nation tour of Latin America wasn’t just about meditation and breathing! It was more about a world in anxious need of amity seeing hopes and solace in India’s age-old repository of spiritual values and ahimsa.

Coming in the wake of his role in brokering the now-famed truce in Colombia, it’s not surprising to see key LatAm leaders seeking his advice on developing holistic approaches to alleviate the problems like drug abuse, violence, poverty and crime. They clearly see his teachings as a hope for resolving long-standing geo-political conflicts, reducing crimes, and spreading peace and happiness.


Heads of states to decision makers to businessmen and academicians and the public opened up to his vision for a violence-free world through spiritual awakening to such an extent that was described as "breathtakingly fresh in a region where no one wanted to look forward" by popular Paris-based publication Le Monde.

In signs that the countries in the region are taking his holistic model seriously, they feted him with honours that are reserved for the most distinguished personalities. From being invited to ‘Change the Rose of Peace’ at the Cultural Palace of Guatemala City to being given the rarest honour of opening the Miraflores Locks (Canal Gates) in Panama, he was raised to the level of a universal leader who can influence the mindset for positive social transformation. Incidentally, Sri Sri is the only spiritual leader other than the Pope to have been allowed to open the Bridge of the Americas, which connects North and South America.

For the record, Sri Sri was also honoured as "Distinguished Guest" by Governor of Panama and awarded highest civilian award in Recife, Brazil.


On his part, Sri Sri didn’t let down their aspirations. From pushing for reconciliation in Colombia along with President Juan Manuel Santos to signing an agreement with the Mexican government for rehabilitating slum children to pitching in for police reform in Brazil to joining hands with Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis for peace building, Sri Sri’s tour was packed with a holistic agenda that could strike at the very roots of what ails the regions.

Ongoing interventions by the Art of Living are reported to have led to drastic reduction in incidences of violence in two of Mexico's most dreaded prisons. His global NGO is also taking up de-addiction programs across the region.    

Sri Sri also led many mass meditation programs including one outside the Colombian Parliament where famous Latin American band Aterciapelodas also joined in chanting and meditation. That people from all walks of life turned up in large numbers in every program of his in a region plagued by drugs mafias and violence only goes to prove that formula is freeing the mindset of destructive cycles. “My life after meditation has been a whole new world for me. I have experienced true joy and my mind is so free even though I am behind the bars.” This testimony of an inmate of one of the prisons of Mexico reaffirms that there is a magic in the ancient Indian wisdom that Sri Sri purveys.

It’s also said that FARC rebels came around to declaring a ceasefire in Colombia only after attending a series of meditation and breathing sessions of Sri Sri. One Mexican Senator was also quoted to have said “there is nothing more democratic than breathing in this world” after attending Sri Sri’s session at the Mexican Senate.

The region is badly in need of such inclusive philosophies to bridge the prevailing political divide that accentuates the cycle of crime and violence. In an indication that Sri Sri is on it, he also called on former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe whose strong opposition to the terms of the Colombian peace deal was responsible for the narrow rejection of the treaty in the October referendum. He emphasized the value of reconciliation not only in Colombia, but also during his address to the Mexican Senate.


What is more significant and relevant than LatAm getting enamored by Sri Sri’s charisma is the unfolding plot of India living up to its potentials of what President Pranab Mukherjee referred to as “a beacon to the world at a time of great danger”. During his address on the eve of last Republic Day, the President was straightforward in telling the nation that it’s her spiritual repository that would reclaim India’s glorious past.

Sri Sri is doing a commendable job of globalizing India’s model of peace and co-existence based on her rich spiritual ethos. With teachings which are universal and focused on something as ubiquitous as breath, Sri Sri is primed to be India's undisputed spiritual ambassador. Interestingly, Indian Ambassadors to LatAm countries were seen welcoming him. This is a welcome departure from the past when India’s ruling dispensation shied away from anything remotely spiritual.

This augurs well for the country. India has the “special genius” that can bring solace and the world is increasingly turning to her for moral guidance. Surely, LatAm lapping it up with gusto is the just the beginning!


(A former business journalist, the author is now on a journey to find the depth of the matter. His writings focus on adding spiritual aspects to things worldly.)

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Seriously, India is getting happiness-savvy!

India can draw a lot from Sri Sri’s reputation and philosophy of practically bringing happiness to millions across the globe. He has proven that happiness can actually be learnt.  


M Rajaque Rahman
India is suddenly getting happy savvy. A BJP-ruled state to a premier IIT…, there is a newfound rush to institutionalize the pursuit of happiness. The day seems not very far when our politicians will be dolling out coupons for free happiness retreats instead of free TVs, mobiles, etc! But Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s idea of having a ministry for happiness is no political gimmick. It represents a shift in paradigm from ‘money cannot buy happiness’ to ‘happiness can be delivered and administered’.

Having stolen a smart march over his counterparts in these days of competitive political positioning, Mr Chouhan now faces the real challenge of coming up with a mechanism that would deliver happiness to his subject which not so long ago led the demeaning BIMARU pack.

Devising a few good-feel schemes for the new ministry is one thing, but making his subject actually feel happy will be quite another. Unless he finds an effective mechanism of delivering happiness as a practical experience, the joy of pioneering the happiness ministry in the country will leave Mr Chouhan sooner than other mayas of the world!

Like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, happiness is in the mind. And like all things mental, happiness is very subtle and delicate. It's impossible to measure or quantify it. There is no Sensex to plot its rise or fall. The old-school model of linking happiness to material gratification and possessions has fallen flat with many of the world's most developed countries topping in suicide rate and depression.

Despite it being the ultimate motivation behind all actions we do in this world, very few people genuinely experience happiness in today’s hectic and fast-paced world. We slog to earn thinking money will make us comfortable and happy! We run behind good food thinking the taste will makes us happy... And the baits are endless.

Mr Chouhan’s challenge will be to engineer a paradigm of happiness away from these baits! Instead of good-feel populism, he should focus on making a plan for teaching happiness to the masses. The nature is on his side for learning to be happy is no rocket science and everyone would be an eligible candidate. For sure, no entrance test would be needed! Just a few lessons on the mechanics of life and happiness will do.

True happiness can come only from learning and understanding simple things about life. The logic is very straightforward. Anything we have knowledge about becomes easy to handle. For those who have the knowledge of cooking, even making an elaborate and lavish meal is a child’s play. But to the one who has no knowledge, even making a cup of tea is stressful. Those who know driving, drive any vehicle with ease. And, one who doesn't, gets goosebumps sitting in the backseat.

The new ministry must focus on sensitizing people to the subtlety of happiness. That will come from making people acquire a little understanding about life -- how its different layers interplay, what controls our mind, what nourishes our soul, etc. That science of holistically looking at life is what is generally and collectively referred to as spirituality. Nothing more, nothing less!

So far Mr Chouhan seems to be on the right track. By seeking advice of the likes of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, he has shown the ministry will have a right set of advisors. Apart from being the most sought-after spiritual guru in the world today, Sri Sri also has the reputation of practically bringing happiness to millions across the globe. Incidentally, the flagship programme of his globally popular Art of Living is christened Happiness Program! His just-concluded tour under the banner of GetHappyUS drew huge crowds of happiness seekers across the US. It augurs well that the new ministry will have the counsel of someone who knows the subject well.

So what should the syllabus for training in happiness be like? Here also, Sri Sri’s Happiness Program could be a good guide. This life-skill workshop comes packed with wisdom, techniques and processes that make the abstract concept of happiness look more real and attainable. The soul of any class in happiness must focus on mind management. The students must be sensitized to the tendencies of the mind that robe it of its happy nature, and factors that make us postpone our happiness to the future need to be understood and addressed.

Sri Sri’s philosophy of happiness includes subtle lessons like appreciating the contrasting realities of life, handling mistakes and criticism, etc and facing challenges of life with equanimity. It looks at the mechanics of happiness in its totality. Take for example his revolutionary equations that establish the link between happiness and one’s personal attitude to life. In a nutshell, it teaches wisdom about life.

By combining with powerful breathing techniques, the Art of Living makes happiness a tangible proposition. The Sudarshan Kriya, which is the centerpiece of the breathing techniques taught in the Happiness Program, is known to free the mind of stress, fatigue and negativity. They make the mind focused in the moment and stops its vacillation between the anger about past and anxiety of the future, making one primed to operate from a heightened state of awareness.

That’s what the happiness ministry should aim for. Schemes like Kanyadan Yojana, Teerth Darshan and Ladli Lakshmi can boost the happiness quotient only in the short term. It will take much more than just ensuring access to food, clothing, education and medical facilities to realize the vision “inculcating a happier lifestyle” and “infusing positivity” into the lives of its citizens.

A ministry for happiness, a centre at IIT-Kharagpur to teach and research on the science of happiness…, India’s emphatic bid for happiness is far deeper than just seeking to improve her dismal rank in the global happiness index. The natural byproducts of a happy personality like good health, uplifted spirit, compassion, intuition, creativity and intelligence could work as the rocket to propel India to new heights. Tathastu!