When informed of his selection by the Indian public in the Complete Wellbeing-Synovate survey [published in Complete Wellbeing December 2008], the railway minister was genuinely pleased. As always, he had many interesting things to say.
In an all-India survey, people of India have chosen you as their “Role Model of Happiness” amongst the politicians in India. How does it feel?
[Breaks into a big smile and looks at party members sitting next to him] Naturally, it would make anyone feel good. I too am feeling good and happy about it. I thank the people for choosing me as the happiest politician in the country.
Why do you think the people of India have chosen you?
Because I am always jolly. Happiness has come to me genetically. It is in my genes. The placement of stars in my horoscope also indicates that I will always remain jolly. At the same time, I am the man of the masses. I have come from the grassroots. I have seen and experienced poverty and know what makes a poor man happy.
That is why I strive to give voice to the poor and the deprived. I always fight for the backbenchers and it has been my effort to bring them to the front row.
How would you rate your happiness quotient on a scale of 100?
It would not be appropriate if I rated my own self. The people of India have already rated me and put me on the top. So, you can infer that they have given me 100 out of 100.
You are one of the most colourful politicians of the country with a great repertoire of rustic humour. How important is it to have a sense of humour?
I may be a colourful man, but at the same time, I am a man with a very strong character. “Tight langot wala aadami hoon” [I am a man with tight underwear]. I am a one-woman man. It is my firm belief that if your character is gone, everything is gone. You cannot survive a public life for long without having a good character.
A good sense of humour is equally important. One should always remain happy and take the opportunity to make others happy. It does not cost you money to smile. And by smiling, you can make others smile too, free of cost.
Having faced so many controversies, how do you manage to remain so contented and always smiling?
It is my misfortune that my rivals and adversaries in politics have always tried to drag me into controversies. I have been charged of being dishonest as well. But I am a firm believer in God and the Almighty has been very kind to me. It is because of His grace that I have always had the last laugh. As I told you earlier, happiness is an inbuilt part of my personality. It is in my hormones.
Which has been your most trying time? How do you tackle phases of stress?
I have had to face difficult times right from my student days. Whenever a problem has sprung up, I have given it top priority. You can tackle stress with patience and an alert mind.
What is your biggest source of happiness? What simple things in life make you happy?
I feel happy to see the people around me enjoying my presence. I also have an ability to communicate very serious matters very lightly.
First a rustic comedian, then a shrewd politician and a good orator and now an ivy-league management guru—you have effectively changed public perceptions. How important are perceptions to you?
It is people’s love and faith in me that has brought me where I am. Public perception plays a key role in deciding every politician’s fate. I have been in public service for almost four decades now. On my part, I have always tried to be natural in any kind of situation.
You have successfully turned around the Indian railways. What role does success play in your life?
The key factors behind the success story of railways have been: honesty, commitment and vision. I also ensured that none of my relatives or family members ever meddled into the affairs of the railways. I attribute the success of my ministry to each and every employee of the railways.
What is your advice to the readers of Complete Wellbeing for life long happiness?
Always be pleasant. ‘Don’t’ worry, be happy’. Never be afraid of death as no one can predict it. Have no greed in life. Exercise control on your tongue, taste buds and character. Always help the poor and the needy. Keep smiling and make others smile.
Signing off Lalu Prasad Yadav made us smile, in his trademark style…
Don’t forget to send me a copy of the magazine when my interview is published. And if you have any provision to pay money to the person interviewed, give me some money also.