Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan jumped the gun with the announcement to create “a ministry of happiness”, with no groundwork for its implementation.
Inspired by Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness index — which calculates happiness based on ecology, health, time use, education, living standards, cultural diversity, communal vitality and psychological well-being — Chouhan made the announcement of this first of its kind ministry in the country during the BJP’s executive meet on Thursday.
He said worldly possessions and development through statistics were not the only measure of happiness, and that the ministry would work towards keeping people “genuinely happy”. But other than the inspiration, there is little in terms of foundation.
“We will work on the announcement now,” said a high-ranking government official, who did not want to be named.
The announcement comes at a time when the state is facing agrarian and financial crises, with reports of farmer suicides making headlines. In addition, at least 27 students killed themselves this year under the pressure of exams.
The 2014 National Crime Records Bureau report shows that Madhya Pradesh had the highest number of rapes at 5,076, and also topped the chart in terms of crimes against children — 16.9% of all crimes reported. Malnutrition, Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate also remain alarming high.
State Congress chief Arun Yadav fired a salvo over the state government’s announcement on Friday, questioning how a government riddled with corruption could provide happiness.
In fact, India ranked a dismal 117th for 2012-14 in the World Happiness Report 2015, a report published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
Even when implemented, India will not be the first to have such a ministry. Bhutan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Venezuela among others have similar ministries.
The UAE appointed its first minister of state for happiness in February. Media reports said its Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum underlined his vision in his tweet: “A new post, minister of state for happiness will align and drive government policy to create social good and satisfaction”.
“The (MP) government will study workings of the ministry in different countries and create its own model,” a source said.
State BJP vice-president Vijesh Lunawat touted it as another step to make the people of the state happier — after achieving “tremendous growth” and recording the highest agriculture growth rate in the country, winning the Centre’s Krishi Karman award four years in a row.