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Archive for January 12, 2011

IN PURSUIT FOR HAPPINESS


Ever since I flipped the page of the new 2011 calendar and hung it beside my study I have been aspiring to tick a day when I will get to hear more of positive news than the negative ones. It hasn’t yet happened in the past 11 days or so. Good news from our part of the world has almost become a rare entity and one always dreads as to what new drama will the coming day unfold.

It makes me wonder, as we are well into the second decade of twenty first century, reached the moon, invaded the space, climbed the Mt Everest, peeped inside an atom, now gearing to reach Mars and further, but we haven’t reached into the core of our own hearts to gain happiness and contentment.

Nations measure prosperity by their GDP which represents countrys income and its economic progress but terribly falls short of capturing other measures needed for prosperity like health,( both mental and physical), personal freedom and security.
I talk to friends and relatives of all kinds—successful, average and not so successful.

Talking to a friend who and her husband are currently laid off—It is valid, of course for them, to staple happiness together with their jobs and hence economic well being. But when I talk to a cousin, who’s husband is in an extremely coveted post and with a fat pay package—she talks of her disgust at the ‘nauseating gap between the rich and the poor’ and that she does not even cherish her own prosperity seeing so much miseries around.In fact she lives in guilt despite doing a lot of charity too.

Talking to relatives back home and they are unhappy for the prevailing socio-politico-economic conditions , but then someone else in US with a settled life talks of the bills, the mortgage payments, the stress at job and the mechanical life which keeps them away from happiness.

You talk to a mediocre student and he is worried about his prospects of making it to a University due to immense competition. Talk to a brilliant student and she harps about the pressure she has to take of being in a world ranking program. It is really a disturbing statistics that a large chunk of university students and people from the general public are on antidepressants in some parts of the developed world.

I look at my own life and compare it to the days when I began my life with my husband with just two suitcases as my possessions and now they have multiplied to many many many more ‘suitcases’ but do these ‘suitcases’ add to my emotional well being? Do I feel any better because of this material gain?. Whatever satisfies me is not my material possessions but my contribution as a health and community worker or as a wife, a mother or even a friend.

Money , of course, is important to lead a comfortable life but only certain amount of money can give you happiness. Anything beyond the threshold does not add to happiness or prosperity but more to greed, discontentment, desire for more, fear of losing it and even guilt at times.
Why is it that the people of the likes of Bill Gates vow to spend a major chunk of their wealth on charity? Is it that he doesn’t
love money or does not need it? Of course not.( Who doesn’t love it!). If he hadn’t loved money he wouldn’t have strived to reach at the top of the Forbes Richest Men list and stayed there for years together. It simply proves that after a certain threshold of economic prosperity money ceases to matter as a source of happiness and contentment. But one has to live the experience to realise how it feels. In general wealthier people are less happy than the less wealthy counterparts, but it takes an awful lot of income to buy happiness that companionship and community provide for free.

We as individuals may very well resolve it by associating prosperity and happiness to family values, interpersonal relationships or even intrapersonal relationship—coming to be one’s own friend.
But the real task lies in incorporating this concept of happiness and contentment when it comes to economies or nations as a whole.
Fortunately enough some economists and a tiny nation have started to associate that ‘true’ prosperity ( which includes happiness) does not limit to only economic prosperity. But still the concept is in its trial stage and infancy.

A tiny nation of BHUTAN in our region through its ex-King Jigmey Singye Wangchuk,proposed an approach to have the idea of GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS along with the Gross National Produce (GNP). Bhutan may be a tiny country land locked between two giants India and China, with a rugged Himalayan terrain and harsh alpine climate, but it’s visionary king has made some great strides towards the issue of making his people happy.

A 55 year old man now, educated in UK and US, he ruled Bhutan from 1972 until his abdication in 2006 to his son. He is credited with many modern political and social reforms in the country.

In 1972 he introduced the concept of GNH .The concept of gross national happiness (GNH) was developed in an attempt to define an indicator that measures quality of life or social progress in more holistic and psychological terms than Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The philosophy, which is underlined by four pillars, namely
-equitable socio-economic development;
-conservation of environment;
-preservation of culture;
-promotion of good governance,

The GNH theory seeks to pursue the broader forms of well-being beyond material things. There was no exact quantitative definition of GNH proposed.
The King proved that his actions were louder than the words by:
-transformed Bhutan from a absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.
– stunned the nation by declaring general elections in 2008.
-transferring most of his administrative powers to the Council of Cabinet Ministers and allowing for impeachment of the King by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly
-on 14 December 2006, he announced that he would be abdicating immediately. This was followed with the first national parliamentary elections. Judicial power is vested in the court of Bhutan. The Chief Justice is the administrative head of the Judiciary. National Election and Anti-Corruption Commissions were also set up in 2006.

Many people term the king orthodox simply because he does not cherish material gains as the source of happiness. So orthodox is he that even to this day, traffic lights do not exist in the country, and by law everyone must wear traditional 14th century clothing. But in 1999, the King lifted a ban on television and the Internet. In his speech, the King said that television was a critical step to the modernisation of Bhutan as well as a major contributor to the country’s Gross National Happiness, but warned that the “misuse” of television could erode traditional Bhutanese values.

Despite being termed orthodox, his country has seen great progress over the past decade. The country has shown a growth rate of 6.5%, annually upto the available stats of 2008, the life expectancy at birth has risen from 48 years in 1984 to 66 years in 1994. And in just one decade from 1990 to 2000, gross enrollment rate at the primary level has jumped from 55% to 72%.

It simply does not mean that ALL IS WELL in Bhutan. They still have to overcome the poverty which grips a third of the nation.
Although being a tiny nation it sets an example for our leadersand teaches a great amny lessonsabout SELFLESS RULE and GENUINE CONCERN for it’s people.

As economic development on the planet pushes the limits of ecosystems to their brink, it calls into question the ability of the planet to sustain further, this civilization. Hence the talk of moving “Beyond GDP” in order to measure progress not as the mere increase in commercial transactions, nor as an increase in specifically economic well-being, but as an increase in general well-being as people themselves subjectively report it.

Inspired by the concept of GNH from the King Wangchuk of Bhutan, a second-generation GNH concept, treating happiness as a socioeconomic development metric, was proposed in 2006 by Med Jones, the President of International Institute of Management. The metric measures socioeconomic development by tracking 7 development area including the nation’s mental and emotional health.
GNH value is proposed to be an index function of the total average per capita of the following measures:( and I paste them from the original document):
1. Economic Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of economic metrics such as consumer debt, average income to consumer price index ratio and income distribution
2. Environmental Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of environmental metrics such as pollution, noise and traffic
3. Physical Wellness: Indicated via statistical measurement of physical health metrics such as severe illnesses
4. Mental Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of mental health metrics such as usage of antidepressants and rise or decline of psychotherapy patients
5. Workplace Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of labor metrics such as jobless claims, job change, workplace complaints and lawsuits
6. Social Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of social metrics such as discrimination, safety, divorce rates, complaints of domestic conflicts and family lawsuits, public lawsuits, crime rates
7. Political Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of political metrics such as the quality of local democracy, individual freedom, and foreign conflicts.
I wonder where would we stand if we apply all these parameters to our part of the world. I dread to even make an attempt to do so.

If only our leaders were as visionary and sensitive as King Wangchuk, we would also aspire to be a happy nation some day.
The idea of linking Happiness factor to Econmic prosperity is still in its infancy and only time will tell if it matures into a reality and our planet attains HAPPINESS along with other innumerable worldy achievements.
Where there is a will there is, for sure, a way .
Lets hope…

Ilmana Fasih
12 January 2011

AAJ SHEHR KI FIZA BAHUT BHAARI HAI


A bitter pill to swallow…
I stay awake all night-that no sounds of cries come.
Look who’s awake—who never stayed up late even in the final exams.
I shiver with fear-that no 1992 history repeats.
Look who’s shivering- who never did, even on seeing the most difficult word problem in the dreadful Physics Exam.
I’m scared inside out-that the humans stay unharmed.
Look who’s scared-who never was so, even when the strictest school Principal reprimanded her in his office.
I pray every minute—that the sanity prevails.
Look who’s praying—who never did so, even before the exam results were due.
Yes, indeed, today I stay awake, shiver, am scared. Not for myself, but for the 1.2 billion who await this dreaded judgement today.
Hence I pray to “God” up in the Heavens and beg to the ”humans” down on the Earth, that let ’sanity prevail in majority’ and ’ human harmony be the order of the day’.
Shahid Bhai ne theek hi to kaha hai: “Na samjhoge to mit jaoge ai Hindositan walon
Tumhari dastan bhi na hogi dastanon men.
Aur Armaan Bhai ka dil rota hai:
दिलों पर इक अजब सा ख़ौफ़ तारी है, Dil par ek ajab sa khof tari hai,
आज शहर की फ़िज़ा बहुत भारी है ! Aj shehr ki fiza bahut bhari hai!
ये ना हो जाये कहीं वो ना हो जाये, Ye na ho jaye kahin woh na ho jaye,
सब मे बेचैनी है , सबको बेक़रारी है! Sab mein bechaini hai sab mein be qarari hai!
सड़कें खाली हैं यूँ, जैसे साहूकार हैं, Sarkein khali hain jaise sahukar ho,
लोग छुपे है, जैसे इन पर उधारी है! Log chupe hain jaise un pe udhari hai!
संगीनो के साये, बूटों की धमक मे, Sangeenon ke saath booton ki damak mein,
हमने देखा , ज़िंदगी बहुत बेचारी है! Hum ne dekha zindagi bahut bechari hai !
नफ़रतो के ठेकेदार अब हमला बोलेंगे, Nafrat ke thekedar ab hamla bolenge,
मुहब्बत वालों तुम्हारी क्या तय्यारी है! Muhabbat waalon tumhari kya tayyari hai!
– अरमान -Armaan.
We need to remind ourselves of what Martin Luther said until his death: ‎”We must learn to live together as brothers, or we are going to perish together as fools.”
We need to revisit what Gandhi ji had told us: My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realising Him.
We need to open our minds to what Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) taught us : “Do you love your creator? Love your fellow-beings first.”
Let us all have faith in tolerance and live a fraction of Martin Luther, Gandhi and Prophet Mohammed(pbuh) in each one of us.
Let’s pledge for peace…
ILMANA FASIH
30 September 2010

SHAYAD KHATM YE FAASLE HO JAYENGE


Armaan Khan bhai again writes with his soul.
Let me do the explaining.This kavita (poem) is in context with the much awaited Court ruling on Ayodhya-Babri Masjid controversy.Any time this issue comes to limelight, a visible tension crops up among the two communities, who have essentially been living side by side for centuries.
I hope each word of this poem reflects the feelings of each one in India and extends to ‘us’ across the ‘border ke us paar too.’ 🙂
शायद खत्म ये फ़ासले हो जायेंगे,
जब हमारे बीच फ़ैसले हो जायेंगे !
अयोध्या भी सुकून से हो जायेगी,
हम तुम भी अच्छे भले हो जायेंगे !
अब बदगुमानियाँ भी मिट जाएँगी,
दूर, सब शिकवे गिले हो जायेंगे !
हाथों से नही, दिल से मिलेंगे तो,
दिल से दिल के मरहले हो जायेंगे !
नफ़रत ढूँढने से भी ना मिलेगी,
मोहब्बत के सिलसिले हो जायेंगे !
– अरमान
Shayad khatm ye faasle ho jaayenge,Jab hamare beech faisle ho jayenge.
Ayodhya bhi sukoon se ho jayegi, hum tum ache bhale ho jayenge.
Ab badgumaniyan bhi mit jayengi, door sab shikwe gile ho jayenge.
Haathon se nahin dil se milenge to, dil se dil marhale ho jayenge.
Nafrat dhoondne se bhi na milegi, mohabbat ke silsile ho jayenge.
—- Armaan Khan
In reply, Ibrahim Shishmahal says:
Dil mil sakein subhi kay, kuch aisaa payaam de
Nufrat na ho kahin pe, sukun subho shaam de
Pur amn ho watun, kahin dehshut na ho zara
Meri dua ye ‘Faisla’, khushiyan tamaam de!!
And Amit adds:
main na himdu na musalman mujhe jeene do..
dosti hai mera emaan mujhe jeene do…

WHERE MY WORLD BEGAN


Once again Ismail’s writing surprises me.He asked me to edit an essay he was suppose to do an his English assignment.I could not find anything worth editing.A playful,rough n tough football kicking boy has so much sensitivity in him—perhaps I’m blind.
He writes:
Do you know a place which for once you can call perfect? A place which is a temporary but amazing source of inspirations. Where you smile at everything you see. Have you ever spent 15 years of your life there? I can, perhaps even more, I was born there. That place is the heart of the Muslim world amongst the sweet musk-smelling desert of the Middle East: Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
The first time my feet touched the rocky surface of the earth, after leaving my mom’s soft envelope, was in Mecca. If there is one thing I would ever long more than anything else, it would be the old childhood days. Just the thought of how every day would go by brings a twinkly tear to my eyes. Just looking at the rainbow in my room, when I woke up caused by the rays of light coming from the window through the colourful curtains. It gave that good-feeling needed to start off my day. And being alone in my room and with the peace made it all that better. It’s amazing that how before going to sleep my room was pitch black with the humming of the AC in the background, and then there I was waking up, in time to see the morning bring its magic to me in my room. When in the outside world, of course accompanied by my parents since I was just 5, I was still old enough to appreciate the streets of Mecca, at least until it became crowded with buzzing people and honking cars. The green grass and trees, the blue skies, the wind blowing in my face, the cats and pigeons roaming around here and there. Now that was an eternal l sight. And during the sunset, the sight of that fireball between the mountainous terrains of Mecca in the horizon was absolutely spectacular.
Environment was amazing, but without any people to communicate with it is worthless. That’s why I had some company along the way .First there was my mom, who cooked up breakfast before dawn, as our school bus used to arrive at 6 am. She would dress me, brush me and put on my shoes on. Funny thing is, I never noticed this because I was too busy watching cartoon network. She kept on teaching though how to do all this, how to tie knot on shoes, how to comb hair and how to button up, which I eventually did. She would stay up with me day to night, to teach me telling time, times tables and nursery rhymes. She would teach me ethics, manners, help me communicate and tell me to study so that I have a good future. It’s incredible how all those words still echo in me and are still helping me in my journey to success. At school, my teacher too was amazing although harsh at times, since preschool was like do work or else stand in the corner, no more toys and all the usual stuff adults do to teach kids. Back then I would not like this, but now looking back I am glad she did because it helped me up to do my homework, study for my tests and work hard all the way. I don’t know where she is now 10 years later, but I will always be thankful to her for showing me the gift of education and teaching me what life is all about.
Mecca is a place which is a hidden land of treasures. How? Perhaps the most amazing thing is the Holy Mosque where Muslims pray their five daily prayers. My mom tells me that people die to get here though some cannot even afford to get there. I always agreed, but in my mind having such a religious blessing is not all you ever want. That’s why we had Jeddah. Jeddah was a nearby city a few kilometers away. It had everything you can ever want. It may not have been known around the globe as a “tourist destination “ but it had lights, economy, amazing livelihood, great lifestyle and best of all no taxes ! Jeddah is known to have every brand of restaurants, clothing, and shoes brands in the world. Name one, and it will surely be there. I enjoyed the amazing restaurants though I didn’t appreciate the clothing and shoes. At least not as much as my mom did. But overall looking at how these brands had globalized and had amazing lights like this and their managers were living in Jeddah finest 7-stars inspired me that I need to work to my highest point to be like these people and live a problem-free future like these people.
Like I said, Mecca is an amazing source of inspiration but it was temporary. After living 15 majestic years I had to unwillingly uproot myself from the place as the rules of that country do not give its expatriates any right to citizenship even after spending an age there. I could never dream to pursue higher aims living there beyond high school. I had to move on to bigger goals in life. So here I am living my eighth month in the True North and Free hoping to make some of my own magic here. To say the least, in less than an year, I can say I call this place,Canada, my home.

Ismail Fasih
27 Sep 2010

I AM THE CHOSEN ONE


Pheww, I was the chosen one!

Place: Le Gaurdia Airport,  NY

I was pulled out of the line and asked to wait.

This followed  a ‘special check’ , with  one hour ‘complete search’the body + the bags.

Asked ‘em if t’was because of the color of my passport or my skin. There was no reply.

“When did you visit last? “

“Six months ago.”

Took everything out of the bags, checked the shoes, pockets. Sent inside for the body search.

After the search, the lady groaned: “You can go now.”

After all, at the exit, holding my Passport in his hands,  ‘the hulk’ had the cheek to ask-

” When will you visit NY next?

 “That’s none of ur business.” I snap.

He frowns and I frown back.

Returns the passport, smiles but I frown back again.

He says, “I’m sorry.”

”You better be.”

I feel elated and victorious.
Not for the  clearance, but for having tried to fight back.


Ilmana Fasih
24 September 2010

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