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Ministry of Happiness

Ministry of Happiness 16 July, 2016

 Roti, kapda, makaan fine, but Shivraj Singh Chouhan wants to offer ‘happiness’
MP is the first state to announce such a department that will coordinate among other departments and craft polices in a way to increase the level of happiness among its citizens.THE plans have been scaled down from a ministry to a department but, claims the Madhya Pradesh government, there is no diminishing the happiness.

More than three months after Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan first made the announcement, the state Cabinet on Friday cleared a Happiness Department, scaling it down from a separate ministry but to be still headed by the CM.
The first such initiative in the country, the department will identify and define parameters that make people happy, coordinate among various departments, recommend policy changes and formulate an action plan to “increase the level of happiness and satisfaction” among the state’s more than 7.25 crore population — all on a Rs 3.60 crore budget.
The department will have a president, a chief officer, a director (research), a director (coordination) and four research assistant among others. Experts working in the field could be nominated to the department.
Chouhan had first floated the idea at a BJP event in Bhopal, and later spoken about it at an event organised on the sidelines of the Simhastha Kumbh near Ujjain. It was included in the 51-point Simhastha Declaration released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the last day.
“Roti (food), kapda (clothes) and makaan (house) are basic necessities, but a human being needs more. Subjects like history and geography are necessary but we should also revise syllabus to include how to inculcate positivity. Yoga and meditation are also necessary,” Chouhan said, announcing the Cabinet decision on Friday.
Later in his blog, he said, “I often wonder why despite unprecedented growth in material prosperity and means of comfort in the world, happiness continues to elude us? What explains the ever growing intolerance, violence, despair and depression? On deep reflection I felt material prosperity and facilities can provide comforts but not bliss.”
The department will be driven by the same principle: that happiness depends not just on material progress but also value-based development, spiritual progress and an overall sense of wellbeing.
The department will take feedback from people on the happiness parameters at regular intervals, publish survey reports and carry out research to improve the existing parameters.
Chouhan hinted that health, income, yoga, positive attitude, sports and cultural activities could be among the parameters against which happiness is assessed in the state.
The CM acknowledged that the idea of mapping happiness is not new, and has been tried by several countries, including Bhutan and the US, as also by the United Nations.
Bhutan, the first country to come up with the concept of gross national happiness, has fixed standards of living, health, education, good governance and psychological happiness among the various parameters that make its citizens happy. Some of the US states that follow Gross National Wellness have included emotional and psychological ability, physical health, work, income, economic progress and holidays among other parameters.
The parameters used by the United Nations include per capita GDP, health, community cooperation during bad times, and trust-inducing measures like corruption-free government and business, freedom to take decisions, and philanthropy.
The World Happiness Report 2016 by the UN ranks India at 118th among 156 countries, behind Somalia (76), China (83), Pakistan (92), Iran (105), Palestinian Territories (108) and Bangladesh (110). Madhya Pradesh, which has made remarkable progress in agriculture in recent times, does not figure among the country’s developed states, and fares badly when it comes to social indices like maternal and infant mortality. It also has a very high rate of crimes against women.
Dismissing the happiness department idea, state Congress chief Arun Yadav said, “How can one talk about happiness when sadness prevails everywhere? Corruption is rampant and farmers are taking their lives.”
“The government will have to first address issues that make people unhappy, like inequality and the burgeoning gap between the rich and poor, hunger and malnutrition. It’s possible only if the government revisits its approach toward development. Also, it will have to be ensured that the proposed department does not become a tool to further political interests,” said Right to Food campaigner Sachin Jain.
According to state BJP chief Nandkumar Singh Chouhan, these fears are unfounded. “The department is a matter of satisfaction for people living in the state. It’s a welcome step.”
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