Monday, 12 March 2012

What Makes You Happy? Unravelling well-being and personal satisfaction

Farmer prosperity is closely linked to food security.
One of the questions I am most apprehensive about as well as look forward to most during my interviews with farmers is this: “What, according to you, is necessary for a farmer to be happy?” 
Infamous as a person who drinks less water than a camel (yes, recently I had slipped to an all time low of a glass every two days), my mother says I am the most appropriate person to be researching water scarcity. And as I try to piece together the story of water availability in rural Rajasthan, I have begun appreciating how it weaves together a farmer’s life so completely. Realising this, my interviews range from dull enumerations of tractors and pump sets to softer issues of flows of information regarding water conservation. However, it is when the conversations spill onto other aspects of rural life, that things become interesting.

So yes, one of the questions I ask tentatively is: “What, according to you, is necessary for a farmer to be happy?” The answers range from entertaining to cautious, assured to uncertain. Some laugh off the question self-consciously as if happiness is too unattainable a state to wish for; they look at me quizzically, as if to say, “Happiness? I’m flailing against the vagaries of weather to eke out a living from the land, this year I will have to buy food again. And you ask me of happiness?” Some think the question doesn’t merits their time and mumble a disinterested answer.