A Department of Happiness?

Daily Mirror Editorial

Happiness is the result of fulfilled dreams  -Sigmund Freud

A few weeks back, India’s Andhra Pradesh became the second Indian state to open a department of happiness. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh the ever enterprising political visionary Chandrababu Naidu, who visited Sri Lanka a couple of months back, has declared that “no government can be rated as successful or achieve desired results unless happiness prevails in society”.

The poverty-stricken Madhya Pradesh, which became the first Indian state to start a department of happiness, has already enlisted 25,000 ‘happiness volunteers’ to organize events for the department. While research on enhancing happiness of people continues, the department which was started in July last year regularly holds events aimed at ‘achieving happiness’.

Besides these two Indian states the governments of United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Venezuela too seem to believe that the state should have its say in creating happiness for people.Image result for Ohoodbint Khalfan Al Roumi

Ohoodbint Khalfan Al Roumi, the cheerful looking Happiness Minister of UAE is a 39-year-old woman, an economist. She has installed ‘happiness meters’ in government officers where people can gauge the quality of the delivery of services. The minister has also launched a ‘Happiness Patrol’ where the ‘good motorists’ will be traced and rewarded with gift vouchers. Her happiness officers trained in Oxford and Berkeley Universities are tasked to make the countrymen adopt a more positive attitude.

Besides UAE the strife-stricken Venezuela has a ‘Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness’. However it’s reportedly designed to monitor the government’s welfare measures for the poor. The purpose of the ministry is to look after the “sublime, vulnerable and delicate” the embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has reportedly said.

In addition to the department of happiness the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandababu Naidu has a grand design for the well-being of the people in his State.

Psychological well-being ranks number one priority is the vision statement of ‘Sunrise Andhra Pradesh Vision 2029’ the ambitious vision plan of the Chief Minister aimed at making Andhra among the three best Indian States by 2022, the best by 2019 and a global investment destination by 2050.

Mr. Naidu was declared the ‘South Asian of the Year ‘ by the Time magazine in 1999 during his first tenure as CM thanks to his series of reforms and efforts to convert impoverished Andhra to a flourishing IT hub. However his defeat at the 2004 election largely owing to neglecting the agriculture sector brought his plans to a standstill.

Having learnt his lessons Mr. Naidu seems to be paying greater attention to agriculture this time in his blueprint. The plan itself is modelled after the concept of ‘Gross National Happiness” introduced by Bhutan’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuc (TW recommends this video) in 1972 and became the forerunner of the UN Happiness Index.

A decent livelihood and living standard are among the many aspirations of a man especially in the developing world. However, that is not all. Political stability of a nation is a mandatory factor for the people to remain optimistic that what they have already got would not be lost in future. This remains specially so for middle income countries like Sri Lanka and the affluent.

In addition, there should be a strong sense of freedom and growth among the citizens. Any infringement of rights is going to eat into the sense of well-being. Happiness after all is a state of mind and a continuous sense of positivity and purpose will contribute largely to maintain a wholesome state of mind.