Friday, May 15, 2015

Happiness Index & Happy Homes!

"After a certain count money doesn’t always brings happiness. People with ten million dollars are not happier than the people with nine million dollars"… Hobart Brown

Brown was an American sculptor and the founder of Kinetic Sculpture Racing & believed that grownups should have fun so that the kids will want to grow old! Well this logic along with his efforts to make the society to live along it makes him one of the founders in what today’s USA is! From across the world people want to settle in USA or in western part of the world; it’s because they have understood happiness better than others!

Well when it comes to happiness the opinions can vary person to person yet one very interesting news which was in mostly all the news papers caught my eyes recently & it was about happiness index! Many will think this is some western world especially American’s funda as they are the one who tries to measure everything with some scale may it be wealth or automobiles or even ice-cream consumed per day! But how can feelings or emotion like happiness be measured & that also on a generic basis & create an index out of it? In our Hindu Philosophy we are more concerned with peace than happiness but that’s not topic of ours so let’s keep it for some time next & focus about happiness index. This index decides how happy a particular country’s citizens are i.e. “aam aadami” in our language. Needless to say India was way down on the ladder when its happiness i.e.  we as a country stood at some 117th number in the list of 160 odd countries on happiness index; no wonder first five are mostly European countries but even our neighbors Bangladesh & Pakistan also are above us in happiness index! Definitely not a good sign as a society with such a high level of unhappiness in the citizens of this country! Again many will say what’s new in that? We are a developing country & we have lots of problems to worry so how can be we happy with millions are below poverty line here? Again as the quote says this index takes in account wealth if not actual money but there are many other factors too, on which the happiness of a society is counted & they dealt with the surrounding in which we live. The happiness index news is very much related to the industry of which I am part of i.e. real estate industry as what we call home has to do a lot with happiness in our life. Well, will go in to that topic later, so curiously I went on reading the criteria for working out the index! They were quite simple, obviously per capita income was there & then there are other factors listed as generosity, freedom, average age & yes corruption! Point by point my mind started thinking about every aspect which was mentioned for working out the index.

Let’s take the per capita income; we all know we are developing country means we have millions who don’t have have access to a decent basic infrastructure like drinking water or nutritious food & no own home for living. We are dependent on high end technology like nuclear power generation on western countries & even our defense establishment too is on mercy of these countries. We don’t have road network to many of the cities or towns neither we have power network evenly distributed all along our country so most of the families are deprived from electricity is a fact. Public health situation is too bad & crores of people don’t have access to basic medical facilities. Though our Hindu Philosophy doesn’t believe in materialistic pleasures yet money is important factor in buying our basic needs which in turn is related to happiness. It’s this per capita income which is directly related to our population as well our affordability to buying our own home! This is where real estate industry comes in picture when happiness index is calculated. Imagine a person or a family with no own home so the first worry always in their mind is about getting a rented flat & all the time the tension what if the land lords asks them to move out! On other hand consider a family with their own home however inconvenient it may be yet a debt free home is something giving them confidence that no one can ask them to leave from their home. And when I say no one it means it has to be a legal title clear home so even the Govt can’t ask them to vacate it. Imagine when this basic need is take care then the persons in this family are moving a step closer to happiness index as they have stability of their family, a cause to return to home as it’s their own home. Most of the cases unhappiness is the main outcome of no cause or purpose in life. An individual can’t be happy without a proper surrounding of happy people around & a home of our own where we feel comfortable is the very main aspect of making a group of people staying together happy!

Once you have your own home then only you can think about generosity i.e. habit of sharing or giving! A happy mind which is satisfied with its own needs only can think about others needs & can be generous in his or her acts towards the society! Think of a guy who is worried all the time about buying his own home & behind saving every single rupee for the same; how can we expect him to be in giving mode or helping others when he himself is in need of money, unless he is a saint & this is not age of the saints is a fact!  Again generosity isn’t taught to us in any of the schools or colleges but a home is the best place where they teach it since our childhood. Sharing is other name of generosity & first lessons of it we all recite at the home, provided the home surrounding is happy. And here again role of real estate is extremely important as what we build for isn’t just to sale our flats but to make life of the residents in those flats comfortable which in end is the way to happiness. As if the parents of a kid are not comfortable with the kind of home their builder has given them; if the commitments towards their hard earned money hasn’t been followed then how we expect those parents will teach their kids sharing & generosity like things? At the same time role of the Govt is equally important as a home is made-up of the walls the roof & the surrounding & in the surrounding every factor counts which the builder is unable to provide but the govt is supposed to do that. This surrounding includes roads to water to drainage to schools to hospitals & play areas; this even many big projects also do provide but what about millions who stays in single building type projects? They too pay the taxes & they too have their right on all these amenities of life which are not mere luxuries for the luckier few!

Then comes the freedom; again many will say are we not a free country so what’s role freedom in happiness? Well, ask our self are we really free? Calling ourselves Indians, citizen of a free country, does it means freedom? Understanding freedom is something we lack & that’s main reason of our unhappiness. Freedom is not doing anything what we want to do but freedom is in understanding our responsibilities & following them! For e.g. I am driving a car to my morning game & at a signal seeing the red light I stop my car but many other vehicles seeing no traffic cop zoomed past me  as well the one who is right behind me keeps honking me & yelling at me to go on despite the red signal! This does makes me unhappy as people feel to jump the red signal is their definition of freedom here! So many such examples we see around right from throwing garbage on roads to spitting on footpaths, by doing so if one person is enjoying his freedom then he is making hundreds of others unhappy is a fact! So it’s high time we should learn what it means freedom first & start following it right from choosing our own home. Here again many will think what it has to do in choosing our home? There are all sorts of builders around but if we choose to have our home with all the legal proceeding complete then we need not have to be unhappy looking at others who are staying in illegal homes, which may come a bit cheap in money but is not a product of true freedom! This is main reason why Govt should curb illegal constructions & every developer who is building a legal home should raise his voice against illegal construction as seeds of happiness are in following the law & not in breaking it, the message should be very clear!

Average age is something we are very lucky about as with all the medical assistance the average age has been definitely increased & it’s one sign that the society is healthy which is outcome of the happiness! Here too the real estate should take cognizance of this change as no more the age group of buyers is in their mid fifties but they are in mid twenties! This genre is much more demanding & obviously they will be spending a large part of their life in the homes which we will be building than the earlier buyers. So the needs of this class should be worked properly & fulfilled as that does will help them to have surrounding of their requirements & keep them at peace which ultimately a way to happiness!   

Last but not least corruption also is one of the main factors related to happiness! Even in most developed countries like USA & Europe corruption is there but the common man is rarely exposed to it. In real estate even after getting possession our flat holders have to face corruption at many fronts like from getting his name transferred on electric meter to change of name on property tax or may it be obtaining very basic documents like fresh property card or getting anew ration card with new home address real estate is full of doors to corruption is a bitter truth! And it’s not just money but the grinding in the process through which an individual has to go does cause lot of irritation & obviously one can’t expect to be happy in facing all such grinding! Agreed no one expects a builder to get a ration card but if as a developer we try to complete every such formality at least the ones related to the home of a person then we are directly helping him to gain happiness! Many a times we hear stories of builders giving occupation without completing formalities like electric meter & society formation delays which is adding in unhappiness of the families which depends on us.

Friends it’s very easy to know what makes some one unhappy but frankly it’s very difficult to understand what makes a person happy; so all we can do is try to eliminate the causes of unhappiness as much we can, that’s one sure way to gain happiness. As we can understand from the criteria happiness depends a lot on the surrounding of a person or group of persons & what better we can do than to give a home as well it’s surrounding which will be hassle free & where people will be at peace leading to happy life! After all as a developer we must understand that our own happiness should be in counting how many lives we have made happier through our projects than just counting the money we have earned from these projects!  

The present Central Govt is keen on making Smart Cities across the country & on the same lines State Govt is trying Green Cities too but need of the time is built or plan for Happy Cities instead. As that’s what the outcome of any city you build should be & all it takes is a little concern for human life as well some commitment for the purpose we are building these cities! That’s the way to build a happy country & the day every developer & the govt will realize it then we won’t have to be at bottom of list of all the countries at least when its happiness index!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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