India To Create Ministry Of Happiness

India’s notoriously oversized bureaucracy has found a new way to expand – the country’s first ministry of happiness, dedicated to “putting a smile on every face”.

The new ministry will be created by the central state of Madhya Pradesh to “track our growth” in a manner based on Bhutan’s concept of gross national happiness.

“The state will be made responsible for happiness and tolerance of its citizens and will rope in psychologists to counsel people on how to be always happy,” said Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the state’s chief minister.

Tiger Nest Monastry Bhutan
The tiny country of Bhutan has been gauging its national happiness since 1972 CREDIT: LEVENSON WOOD
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the head of the new ministry, is known to be a yoga enthusiastCREDIT: AFP

It will also incorporate existing schemes such as the state’s flagship “girl child” programme, which sees female students and their families financially rewarded for remaining in education longer.

The new ministry emulates dedicated happiness bureaus in the UAE and Venezuela. During his tenure as French president, Nicolas Sarkozy planned to introduce a happiness index as an alternative to GDP for measuring growth.

Mr Chouhan, who holds a philosophy master’s degree, has previously said that “happiness does not come into the lives of people merely with materialistic possessions or development, but by infusing positivity in their lives so that they don’t take extreme steps like suicide in distress”.

Madhya Pradesh is one of India’s poorest and most agrarian states, and a severe drought has left it with the country’s third-highest suicide rate among farmers.

Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh is one of India’s poorest states CREDIT: EPA

At least 27 schoolchildren have committed suicide in the state this year in cases attributed to exam-related stress.

Madhya Pradesh also suffers from high malnutrition, infant and maternal mortality, and the highest rape incidence in the country.

Ranjit Pathania, a former civil servant, tweeted yesterday: “Contemplating ‘Happiness Ministry’! Extremely childish. Don’t make a mockery of set establishments. Do good and happiness flows.”

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