Madhya Pradesh’s Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is famous for his people-centric policies, and public welfare schemes.
During India Today’s recently conducted ‘Mood of the nation poll,’ it was pointed out that around 81 percent of the people surveyed from Madhya Pradesh are happy about Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s performance. He is India’s third most popular CM.
Mainstream media does not focus on state’s initiatives as much as it does on Vyapam scam or on the recently released picture that shows him being carried by two cops. But, a journalist with a keen eye can easily point out that there are many policies and initiatives from this state that are worth inscribing.
Now, the chief minister has launched another initiative that is attracting a lot of attention since last few months. Madhya Pradesh ‘s Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is set to head the state’s new happiness department !
What is happiness department all about?
The one-time PM aspirant recently interacted with journalists and shared interesting details about this department. He pointed out that food, clothing, and shelter are not enough to make people happy; there are other factors as well. Development, materialistic possessions, and economic growth should be accompanied by something that brings happiness in people’s mind.
The concerned team will study all the factors that can possibly impact the level of happiness and suggest ways to bring that happiness back. People in political circles are closely monitoring this program. This will perhaps start in phase by phase manner. Team’s first task would be to calculate and find an estimated percentage of people who are happy with their day-to-day life and find ways to increase that percentage.
Professionals (including psychologists) will be roped in to guide and counsel people in the state. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the state government plans to launch various initiatives under this department. The government may organize religious pilgrimages, meditation sessions, spirituality sessions, yoga sessions, and more than sixty other initiatives.
Madhya Pradesh’s happiness department will closely work with sports ministry, health ministry, and women and child development ministry during initial stages. Chouhan’s state is the first one to set up such department in India.
According to the report published in Business Standard last month, the project will get Rs 3.8 crore as its initial funding. Almost the same amount is expected to be spent on a monthly basis for the project. The department will be headed by MP’s Chief Minister himself. Allotted funds would be used to pay salaries of professionals hired to work in this team.
State’s CM holds philosophy master’s degree and is yoga enthusiast. He has already discussed his plans with the central government. The idea behind this department has possibly come from countries like Bhutan and the UAE, these nations have happiness departments.
In an email interview, Chennai-based award winning Psychologist Dr. Mini Rao shared her opinion.
“I think happiness department is a fantastic idea. At the end of the day how much ever money, success, fame, adulation you get, it cannot be compared with a sense of happiness. For happiness, you need good physical and mental health. A healthy, stress-free person is a fully functioning individual. If you are happy, you can work productively, have healthy relationships with friends and family, and you can contribute to society by being a model citizen. When you are happy, you tend to make others around you happy too. Happiness is contagious,”- says Dr. Mini Rao.
She highlighted the point that factors like mental and physical health, relationships with family and friends, ability to appreciate and admire art and natural surroundings, job satisfaction, the standard of living and religious faith can influence the level of happiness.
“When people realize that the government genuinely cares about them and their happiness, they will start feeling more secure. When the government actually implements such initiatives, it will make the people realize that things are actually happening. Instead of feeling that there is no way out, the people will feel free to discuss their issues that are bothering them, and may feel confident that the government will do something for them. Suicides will definitely lessen when people realize there is some hope, as hope prevents suicides in a big way,”-said the award-winning psychologist while sharing her opinion about happiness department’s possible role in reducing the number of suicides in the state.
Madhya Pradesh government had recently sent a proposal to the central government that would allow people to work for as much as 72 hours every week. This proposal was rejected by the central government. Is this something that contradicts state government’s happiness department move? Experts do feel so.
“Long working hours can be detrimental to physical and mental health. Just as the body needs enough rest, so does the mind. An overworked body and mind will produce burnout. A person with burnout gets physically and emotionally exhausted. He or she may become disillusioned with his job and will start doubting his capabilities, which is also called a lack of professional efficacy. Six hours a day of productive work with Saturday and Sunday as holidays would be effective as there will be a good work-life balance for the employees. When there is too much of work, and no time for family, the balance is broken. This results in poor performance at work and issues in family relationships. For a good personal and professional life, which in turn will make a person happy and content, a good balance of work and fun is required,”-said the young psychologist while sharing her opinion about increasing working hours.
Pune-based psychotherapist, life coach, entrepreneur, and motivator Vikrant Bhujbalrao also shared his opinion about happiness department.
“I feel it’s an amazing initiative and it is the need of the hour. In fact, it is a matter of concern from past decade. Not only in India but globally, people have started thinking and working on this. The most important factor which influences the level of true happiness is the spiritual development, knowledge of life and its purpose. The reason that many people are not truly happy in this world, irrespective of their comforts, luxuries, name, fame and success is that they have not really thought of a holistic approach to life.
They have not really thought and worked on being truly happy. Also, people lack guidance in this as many of them either feel that everyone cannot be happy or they don’t need any guidance or knowledge with regard to life skills. In fact, many people seem happy in being ‘unhappy’. The true happiness lies within and cannot be found anywhere else in the world, can’t be searched on ‘Google’. One has to find it within,”-says Vikrant Bhujbalrao while sharing his opinion.
“Although it will take time to change the situation, but consistent and genuine guidance and activities will definitely impact. People need to be motivated, guided and should be aware regarding the ancient spiritual scriptures and its guidance thorough a simple, contemporary and fun based format. They need to see the true purpose of life, to be ‘happy’,”-said the young life coach.
Rival parties dismissed it as an outlandish plan and tagged it as something that is difficult to be enacted. There are several missing links, doubt about how the state plans to manage infrastructural requirements at district and block level. But, happiness department can definitely prove to be the first step in right direction.