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The pursuit of happiness in Shivraj's Madhya Pradesh

The state government, which started a novel 'happiness department' in 2016, has also prepared a 'happiness calendar' for helping citizens to remain happy and dedicated to the right causes.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 12, 2018, 06.59 PM IST
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PTI
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MP boasts of double-digit GDP growth rate under the present government.
BHOPAL: How happy are you in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan regime and otherwise in life? Many people in Madhya Pradesh won’t have to wait till assembly elections to answer that; the state government, with help from IIT Kharagpur, will pose two dozen questions to almost one lakh people in the state and then publish an ‘Index of Happiness’.

Experts from Bhutan and UAE, the two countries that bring out happiness index of their nationals, will arrive in Bhopal later this month to guide Madhya Pradesh on this first-of-its-kind exercise in India.

The state government, which started a novel 'happiness department' in 2016, has also prepared a 'happiness calendar' for helping citizens to remain happy and dedicated to the right causes.

“We have engaged IIT Kharagpur to prepare the survey questions for us based on the current happiness index brought out by Bhutan, UAE and UNDP,” said IAS officer Manohar Dubey, who heads the state's Rajya Anand Sansthan (happiness department). “The international conference later this month in Bhopal is also part of the process to define the happiness index for our state. It should take about six months to roll out the survey and the 'Happiness Index' will be published before the end of the year,” he told ET.

Elections are due in MP in November-December.

The state’s happiness calendar has a list of monthly tasks for people such as “smile when you get up in the morning — without reason and at no one in particular, list all those who helped you and thank them, just sit still doing nothing, and remember you are mortal”.

For the current month, the happiness calendar advises the state's residents to “play a game you may have never tried earlier, and write a letter to someone who had hurt you — read it carefully, tear and throw it in the bin”. The tasks for March include “getting in touch with an old friend without any expectation and also pray for someone whom you had once wished ill”.

The state government has done a pilot happiness survey in 10 districts, covering about 1,000 people, asking them what made them happy and their level of satisfaction with facilities like security, education, medical and entertainment in the state, and how the same can be improved further.

Last month, the government organised a week-long 'Anand Utsav' (festival of joy), including sports and cultural events, at the village panchayat level, a senior state government official told ET. Special directions were issued to ensure participation of women and children of all ages in this festival and district collectors were tasked to send pictures and videos of the event to senior state government officials in Bhopal, the official said.

MP has also signed MoUs with The Art of Living Foundation, Bengaluru, Initiative of Change, Panchgani, and Isha (Foundation) Yoga Centre in Coimbatore to run special programmes in the state to foster happiness and spiritual wellbeing in people.

Politically, the happiness index once published could be touted by the state government as satisfaction of the residents with the BJP government that has been in power for the last 14 years.

MP boasts of double-digit GDP growth rate under the present government. Since this only indicates material prosperity of the state, the chief minister decided to set up the happiness department for “proactive dispersal of joy” and Chouhan himself is its chairman.
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