he Telugu Desam government is planning to formulate a Happiness Commission headed by chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu that will take up State-sponsored programmes to push up the happiness quotient in Andhra Pradesh. Earlier this month, the state became the second in the country to introduce an exclusive ministry for happiness, after Madhya Pradesh. The commission is expected to take up activities that promote a healthier lifestyle, foster a livelier work environment and plan outdoor activities with the potential to improve the psychological well-being of people. Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are following the example of Bhutan, which was the first place to evolve a ‘happiness index’ and link it to development, otherwise based on GDP numbers, way back in the 1970s. The Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government even set up the ‘Anand Vibhag’ (Department of Happiness) in 2016.
Can mere setting up of departments or commissions ensure that Indians in these states will begin to feel happier? A United Nations study on happiness, released in March, suggests otherwise. India ranks 122nd out of 155 countries, the worst in South Asia, with only the poorest African nations below us.