Little over a decade ago, a phone was just a phone. It could only help dial a number provided one could reach a phone. No more no less! It could neither act like an alarm nor a torch, it could neither click pictures nor convey written messages, and it could neither help you surf the virtual web nor assist the perverted mind to set off time bombs. Mobile phone is one among several gadgets that modernity has smartly milked to capacity, gifting the user more on each purchase. More of the world seems to have been squeezed into a small chip.
Aren't we getting more from less in all purchases? Buy a trouser and get a shirt free; buy a television and get a mixer grinder free; buy a car and get a refrigerator free; buy a house and get the swimming pool free are market manifestations of a growing culture of 'less for more'. Without doubt, less for more has enticed all and sundry into it without any aspersion being cast on how and who pays for the so-called more in our lives. That more mobiles in a home may mean less sparrows in the courtyard is just one manifestation of 'yeh dil maange more', for less.
Across almost all areas of human endeavor, less has created an illusion of more. A growing economy is generating less jobs; and never before has there been a more people suffering starvation, malnutrition, and general poverty. But I haven't found many who are complaining yet, unable to decide whether we are worse off or better off. My sense is that while numbing our senses, smart technology has nonetheless given us a semblance of equality, and a so-called good quality of life!
The question worth exploring is whether this so-called good quality of life makes us happy? Outwardly, it may seem so and most people do demonstrate such an exuberance. The reality is not only far from truth, but grossly painful and annoying too. Else, why would Indians rank 133 in the UN World Happiness Index out of 156 countries, dropping 11 spots from last year. An elderly neighbor sums it up saying that 'we are an insecure lot, seeking solace in acquiring gadgets' and feeling happy about what keeps us ahead of our neighbor.
No surprise we live in 'deficit' amidst so-called plenty. It is perhaps the greatest of all paradoxes as we plunge ourselves into seeking more from less.
First published in The Tribune