to Happiness -‘Human Rights of the Human’
‘Human Rights of the Human’ explained in the article, ‘Road to
Happiness’ by KHUSHWANT SINGH
I never found so
better explained ‘Human Rights of the Human’ having
lived a reasonably contented life like Khushwant Singh ji and
that what a person should strive for to achieve happiness.
Balbir Singh Sooch
Saturday, September 12, 2009
lived a reasonably contented life, I was musing over what a person
should strive for to achieve happiness. I drew a list of a few
essential points, which I put forward for readers’ appraisal. First
and foremost is good health. If you do not enjoy good health, you
can never be happy. Any ailment, however trivial, will deduct
something from your happiness. Second, a healthy bank balance. It
need not run into crores, but should be enough to provide for
comforts, and something to spare for recreations — eating out, going
to the pictures, travel and holidays in the hills, or by the sea.
Shortage of money can be only demoralising. Living on credit or
borrowing is demeaning, and lowers one in one’s own eyes. Third,
your home. Rented premises can never give you the smug feeling of a
nest which is yours for keeps that a home provides. If it has garden
space, all the better. Plant your own trees and flowers, see them
grow and blossom, and cultivate a sense of kinship with them.
Fourth, an understanding companion, be it your spouse or a friend.
If there are too many misunderstandings, they will rob you of your
peace of mind. It is better to be divorced than to be quarrelling
all the time.
Fifth, stop envying those who have done better than you in life —
risen higher, made more money, or earned more fame. Envy can be very
corroding; avoid comparing yourself with others. Sixth, do not allow
people to descend on you for gup-shup. By the time you get
rid of them, you will feel exhausted and poisoned by their
Seventh, cultivate some hobbies which fulfil you — gardening,
reading, writing, painting, playing or listening to music. Going to
clubs or parties to get free drinks, or to meet celebrities is a
criminal waste of time. Eighth, every morning and evening devote 15
minutes to introspection. In the mornings 10 minutes should be spent
in stilling the mind, and five in listing things you have to do that
day. In the evenings, five minutes to still the mind again, and 10
to go over what you had undertaken to do.
Nathaniel Cotton (1721-1788) sums up my views on the subject in one
solid happiness we prize;
Within our breast this jewel lies;
And they are fools who roam;
The world has nothing to bestow;
From our own selves our joys must flow;
And that dear hut, our home.
am not a humble man. I am not cowed by men in powerful positions, or
of great wealth. But I do feel humble when I meet people who
dedicate their lives to looking after sick or needy humans and
animals. On her death anniversary (August 31), I recalled the three
days I spent with Mother Teresa in
over 40 years ago. We walked through crowded streets, rode in trams
to visit her various hospitals, creches and abandoned children and
homes for the dying.
wrote a humble tribute to her for The New York Times, and put
her picture on the cover of The Illustrated Weekly of India.
Till then she was little known outside
Calcutta; after that more people got to know about her work. She
sent me a short note of thanks. I have it in a silver frame in my
home in Kasauli.
was the same with Bhagat Puran Singh. I heard of his pingalwara
and persuaded members of my family charitable trust to donate some
money for the patients staying there. Dr Manmohan Singh, then
Finance Minister, inaugurated it. Whenever I think of Bhagat Puran
Singh, I feel humble.
Though I have no respect for Maneka Gandhi as a politician, I give
her full credit for being the first Indian to make her countrymen
aware of their duty to protect animals. She has done more for them
than anyone else I know. There are quite a few people living near me
who do their bit for animals and humans. There was Bheem Varma of
Cooch Behar (nephew of Maharani Gayatri Devi), who spent his
evenings going around feeding stray dogs. After he died, his wife
Reeta Devi took on the job.
addition, she now runs two mobile clinics — one donated by Kapil
Sibal, the other by Sir Elton John — which go around different parts
of the city with doctors, nurses and medicines to treat sick people
free of charge. She has been promised more mobile clinics by the
Poddars and the Ansals. In a couple of months she will be running
four mobile hospitals treating over 2,000 people a day.
There is my niece Veena Balwant Singh, who now spends her entire day
taking packets of food and medicines around many parts of
New Delhi to feed and medicate stray dogs. That costs a lot of
money. A friend of her has pitched in to share half the expenses. In
the evenings she runs into Parveen Talha of the Union Public Service
Commission, who also feeds stray dogs in Lodhi Gardens before she
goes home for the night.
have known her for over 20 years, but never knew of her love for
animals. There must be thousands of such kindly men and women for
whom taking care of sick and hungry humans and animals is a sacred
duty. I don’t do any such thing, only write about them. But I do
feel humble in their presence.
This Above all
papers every morning. I go through their contents, absorb a few
items which I think are important, and dump their supplements into
the wastepaper basket without opening them. Nothing in papers riles
me more than the number of government ads, all of which, if they are
from Congress-ruled states, carry pictures of chief ministers and
ministers along with those of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh with
claims of achievements in agriculture, industry, education etc.
know that these claims are vastly exaggerated. States ruled by
Opposition parties do not lag behind in self-aggrandisement, and
also publish pictures of their chief ministers, ministers, deputy
ministers etc. Only Sonia and Manmohan are missing. Their claims of
having made advances in every field are no more credit-worthy than
those ruled by the Congress. Since every page ad in any of our
national dailies costs Rs 1 lakh or more, the total amount spent on
governmental self-publicity runs into crores of rupees every day —
enough to set up dozens of schools and clinics.
Who pays for
this extravagant waste of money? The tax payer — you and I — because
all governmental public relations departments are integral parts of
our bureaucracy maintained by taxpayers’ money. Newspapers are not
in any position to object to this practice as their sustenance comes
from advertising, and the government is the single-largest
advertiser in the country. But surely, something has to be done by
somebody to rectify this sorry state of affairs.
thing that occurs to me is setting up a regulatory body which will
define limits beyond which government departments cannot go to
advertise themselves, and check their claims of achievements before
they are published. The Indian Standards Institute (ISI) does this
in the case of products put in the market, and verifies their claims
before it issues them permits. A body like the ISI could be
instituted with similar powers regarding government advertisements.
Come to think
of it, talking about oneself is regarded as bad manners; praising
oneself as an extreme form of vulgarity. Mayawati erecting her own
statues at public expense has been castigated by everyone. She has
made a laughing stock of herself. Why spare netas who impose
their pictures on us everyday and make us pay for them?
In the same league
Mukherjee’s advice to Foreign Minister SM Krishna and his deputy
Shashi Tharoor to get out of five- star hotels and occupy bungalows
allotted to them shows all concerned to be a bunch of humbugs. The
two were paying for their board and lodging out of their own
pockets, and not out of public exchequer. If taken to its logical
conclusion, no minister of government should be eating at a
five-star hotel or restaurant because that all appears to be a
vulgar display of opulence.
Pranab nor any of his ministerial colleagues are known to refuse
being lavishly entertained. A gourmet meal with drinks costs upwards
of Rs 5,000 per head. No one cares if somebody else is paying for
it. However, both the ministers looked very shame-faced when they
quit their hotels. They have a few awkward questions to answer. Why
did they not move into the bungalows allotted to them? All the tale
of their being renovated to their needs is humbug.
They are well
maintained by the PWD and habitable. If they wanted some changes,
they could have been made while they were in residence. Unless, of
course, their vastu experts advised them to change entrances,
doors and directions of their toilet seats. We can assume that
neither minister is a believer in vastu. And who has the right to
tell another how he or she should be spending money? Most certainly,
not media persons.
are the biggest freeloaders in our society today. Have you ever seen
the editor of a national daily pay for his meal in a five-star
hotel? Not even the self-righteous editor of The Indian Express,
which carried the "news" of Krishna staying at Maurya Sheraton and
Tharoor at Taj Man Singh, as if the two had been caught red-handed
committing a crime. Baby-faced Tharoor looked suitably guilty as if
his mom had nabbed him stealing a carton of icecream from the family
Will meet in Hardwar
A few years
ago my sister’s son Tanuj Leekha married Abhilasha at New Delhi. I
saw her only once during the marriage festivity, but was charmed by
her looks, and looked forward to seeing her again. A few days ago,
she died in New York, and her parents, husband and father-in-law
brought her ashes to be immersed in the holy Ganga. While we were
taking her ashes to Hardwar, I read a couplet on the rear of a
truck: Zindagi rahi to baar baar milengey; nahin to
My Teacher - Harbhajan Singh
"Dear Balbir! Mind it, Newspapers are commercial managements,
never meant for News."
study, released Sunday, finds that two-thirds of Americans believe
news stories are often inaccurate, and three-quarters of Americans
think they're biased.
Media Bias Obvious to a Growing Number of Americans
More bad news for journalists: The percentage of people who believe
their work is inaccurate and biased continues to grow.
Be cautious of the Press