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Madhya Pradesh to devise Happiness Index

Happiness, its pursuit and examining its essential nature have been considered the domain of philosophy, an ephemeral rather than tangible value. The Madhya Pradesh government, however, has tasked the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur with finding a quantifiable answer to that eternal question — what constitutes happiness and how happy are people really.

The State government had, in July last year, set up the Anand Mantralaya or the Ministry of Happiness, with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as its first “happiness minister.”

On May 16 this year, his government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IIT-Kharagpur (the only institute to have a Happiness Centre) to devise a Happiness Index for the State.

“We are collaborating with IIT-Kharagpur for developing State happiness index. In the recent past, countries like Bhutan and Great Britain have worked in this area or the life satisfaction scale devised by Dr. Ed Denier. The ancient Indian wisdom that suggests ways of fulfilling and joyous life has never lost its relevance. That old sagacity has to be brought back in a manner that contemporary society understands and appreciates,” Mr. Chouhan told The Hindu.

At 122nd spot

For the record, India logged in at a dismal 122nd spot in the World Happiness Report for 2017, brought out by the United Nations. Down five points from the 2016 survey, where it stood at the 118th spot.

According to Manohar Dubey, chief executive officer of the Rajya Anand Sansthan or State Happiness Institute, the brief to IIT-Kharagpur is to devise a questionnaire that will bring out the happiness levels of the people with tangible and intangible things.

“They will first undertake a survey of all such indices the world over, devise their own questionnaire and include people’s perceptions on issues related to governance and material things, and a validation process will take place through a workshop in December. Only after validation of the index so developed will there be a large scale survey, more than 25,000 respondents from across Madhya Pradesh, to determine levels of happiness in the State,” he told The Hindu.

The Chief Minister appeared ready to take on any questions over whether this somewhat abstract quest was a fit subject for governance. Shouldn’t governments be more concerned about organising basic material comforts for its citizens?

“We all know happiness so well. That be so, how can you call it abstract? That which cannot be clearly understood or analysed by mind can be abstract. Happiness is what we all want all the time. The government works for the happiness and welfare of the people,” the Chief Minister said. “You take a look at our Anand Calendar. For each month there is a task, for example for May, the task is to feel thankful for all the things that you have, make a list of your possessions, be grateful that you have these things in your life,” he said. For June, the task is to find joy in taking up a sport, for July to shake an “alpa viram” or a vacation. This calendar has been distributed to all MLAs in the State and Union ministers in Delhi.

“Incidentally do you think a rich man is always happier? Obviously No .This means that working for material progress is not enough. The skill of achieving inner well being has also to be imparted. This is the reason why every government should also directly involve itself in providing citizens tools of joyful living,” Mr. Chouhan added.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 1:28:17 AM |

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