31 March - 6 April 2017 #852

Gross National Sadness

Once more Nepal finds itself at the top of the heap of high-achievers. Last month, Nepal was recognised for being the third most corrupt country in Asia, and this week we have been voted the third happiest country in the region. There must be a correlation between being on the take and being blissful.

This just goes to prove that among the many failures of governance in the past decades, the most glaring is the inability of successive rulers to ensure that we Nepalis are consistently wretched. We elected our politicians to keep Nepal poor and sad, but not only have they allowed our multi-dimensional poverty rate to decline precipitously, they have also allowed us to be irrationally happy.

To mark this solemn and sad occasion of allowing Nepal to be the turd happiest country in South Asia after Bhutan and Pakistan, the Cabinet should forthwith declare three days of national mourning, with the national flag flying at half mast in all non-government buildings and diplomatic missions manned by manpower ambassadors. Attendance at memorial services will be mandatory so that we can mope, brood and figure out ways to be forlorn again.

We used to be a nation that took our unhappiness seriously. It is stressful to suddenly be foisted with clean and competent ministers, electricity 24 hours a day, wide roads, efficient public transport, a Bagmati devoid of garbage, and Melamchi water you can drink straight off the tap. What will we do now that there is no reason to whine? It’s miserable to have to stop being miserable. Yet, we have to be strong as a people, we have to put on a grumpy face and wipe the grins off our faces.

Happily, there are still Nepalis who are happy to just sit around and complain about how unhappy we are. That gives us hope that in next year’s happiness rankings we will be back at the bottom of the heap. Which reminds me, what is it that makes Pakistanis so happy? What are they smoking? And who can compete with Bhutan, a country that is ecstatic because it’s on ecstasy. The concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) was invented by King Jigme the Glad, who found a way to make his country happy by ensuring that 120,000 of them became sad.

Beisdes corruption, the other reason we Nepalis are unnaturally happy is probably because alcohol consumption per head in this country is growing at a phenomenal rate. Just look at the ads on this page. Which is why the time has come to set up the National Commission on Sorrow and Gloom (delayed by fierce competition between political parties for the pre-paid position of Chair) so that we can go back to our traditional way of life that involved lighting a candle and cursing the darkness.

Nepal needs another index to measure our hidden national angst. How about the Corruption Prevalence Ratio (CPR) which is arrived at by calculating the square root of GDP per capita with wealth-redistribution potential and multiplying it with an inverse decimal for the public expenditure as a proportion of total budget which this year amounted to 9 Kharab 24 Arabs 732 Corrodes and 87 Lacks. And if that won’t make us sad again, nothing will.

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