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Why do we get so angry and unhappy

One of our New Year resolutions should have been to be less angry over local conditions affecting our day to day life. Our resolve should also be to be less angry over politics and topics related to religion. But I think not many of us have opted for this resolution. Mr Gurcharan Das, whom I admire for some of his writings, guided me to a book which says that we live in an age of anger. How apt!! After reading various news papers and after watching peoples’ reaction to various social and personal situations I am now convinced that we indeed live in an age where anger has overtaken rational thinking. This anger has resulted into irrational reactions to issues which would otherwise be termed as minor issues.

Prof Martha Nussbaum says that there is no emotion we ought to think harder and more clearly about than anger. Anger greets most of us every day – in our personal relationships, in the workplace, on the roads, in our social dealings and, often, in our political lives as well. Anger is both poisonous and popular. We acknowledge its destructive tendencies, but still so often cling to it. Anger is seen as a strong emotion, connected to self-respect and manliness. But it is a stupid way to run one’s life.

Aristotle has described that anger is a response to a significant damage to something or someone a person cares about. It is emotional reaction to the damage that the angry person believes to have been wrongfully inflicted on him. Aristotle further says anger is a painful emotion and it also contains within itself a hope for payback. like significant damage, pertaining to one’s own values or circle of cares, and wrongfulness. So the angry person wants some type of payback and significant damage to the wrong doer. This is a conceptual part of what anger is. If the emotion of payback has not arisen within you (In other words, if you don’t want some type of payback) then your emotion is not anger but something else like grief.

Are we living in an age of anger

In today’s India a large section of people are unhappy, discontented and troubled. Consider the following:-

  • In 70s, 80s and 90s I was posted in Assam, Nagaland and J & K. There was Bodo Movement, and ULFA Movement. There was violence of extremists which consumed few generations and achieved nothing. In Nagaland I saw lots of sullenness all around mostly due to power politics being played by few groups. Fault lines in the social set up was very visible in these states. Manipur has its own problem. The issues are still alive. Vested interests have kept it simmering.
  • The “intelligentsia” today is angry with BJP government. These drawing room and TV debate warriors are extremely intolerant towards those who do not agree with them. These warriors are far removed from the reality that majority of people are just not bothered about their philosophy of “tolerance”. People of my village and many other such villages do not watch debates of Arnab Goswami nor do they read main stream English news papers. Yet they are capable of making good political choices. But the “intelligentsia” is convinced that the public of India are being befooled.
  • The “liberals” are unhappy with PM Modi because they do not know how to deal with this phenomenon. So in the name of tolerance they are behaving just as intolerantly. The intelligentsia and the liberals firmly believe that people of India cannot make good decision without their guidance.
  • Congress and the Left have still not accepted the verdict of 2014. They feel that no one else should rule except them, though in state after state people are voting in NDA government. These parties are unable to digest the popularity of PM Modi.
  • Hindus are getting angry now because the “intelligentsia”, “the Liberals” and the Left have created an impression that Hindus should be ashamed of their Hindu identity. The drawing room intelligentsia has made it their profession to analyse Hindutva. They make a living out of running down Hindu religion. No other religion has been dissected, sliced and diced as much as Hindu religion, by these drawing room warriors. For a common Indian the essence and soul of India will remain Hindutva, no matter what is being discussed in the safe confines of drawing rooms. The more this “intelligentsia” criticizes Hindutva, the more assertive form of Nationalism will be displayed by common man.
  • On the other hand Dalits and lower OBCs are angry because they are victims of upper caste prejudices. This fault line is exploited by people like Mewani and their ilk.
  • The middle class is perpetually unhappy in its quest to move into upper middle class slot. Successive government policies have failed to accelerate the economic growth. When our young working class youth go out of country to East and South Asian countries they compare those places with the Indian conditions. Ex PM Manmohan Singh had famously said that he wants to make Mumbai a second Shanghai. But Mumbai remains water logged. Its railway platform bridges are collapsing resulting into many deaths. Its hotels catch fire and old buildings collapse. This results into disappointment, frustration and anger.
  • Jobs are not being generated in large enough numbers. Educated and semi educated youth are whiling away their time, sitting idle. Successive governments have failed to develop and implement appropriate policies which will spur growth and provide sustainable jobs. Rural economy is in tatters. Farm output and industrial growth are below par.

So today the aspirational young generation of India is in a state of anger.  This anger is being exploited by vested interests. We can see the symptoms all around us. The Patidars in Gujarat and Jats in Haryana are asking for reservation in government jobs. Same is the case with Gujjars in Rajasthan and Kapus in Andhra Pradesh.

What should be the response to politics of anger

When a person is angry he wishes to take some kind of revenge. Many times the wrong person becomes target of anger. This is irrational behaviour because wrongdoer’s suffering will not go away by getting angry. This anger is being reflected in many ways in the society. Even parking a car may result into murder.

Point to remember is that you will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger. Resisting anger is essential to maintain sanity in the society. We must start accepting that others also have their view point which should be respected. May be we should relearn the philosophy of forgiveness and tolerance.

Article by Col P Chandra (Retd)


  1. Chakresh Jain Chakresh Jain January 27, 2018

    Nice blog clearly defines today’s scenario

  2. Neeraj Sachdeva Neeraj Sachdeva January 27, 2018

    Very nicely said. We all should work together to kill anger.

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