MP plans happiness-based activities in 10 schools

Madhya Pradesh, which is in the process of developing a happiness index to find out how happy its population is, has decided to introduce on pilot basis happiness-based activities in 10 schools, five each in Bhopal and Jabalpur. Keeping the emotional needs of students in mind, an effort will be made to develop their personalities to help them lead a meaningful life, the government announced on Friday at the end of a two-day workshop organised to fine-tune and improve the draft of Madhya Pradesh Happiness Index 2018. After the schools are selected, work to train teachers will begin from July 2, said Additional Chief Secretary Iqbal Bains, who heads the country’s first Department of Anand. The pilot will be run in collaboration with Metiv Centre of Israel and Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness, IIT, Kharagpur.

The draft report had identified life satisfaction, relationship, environment, health, governance and administration, education, safety and security, income, infrastructure, transportation, social inclusivity, social and cultural life, time use and meaningful engagement as 14 domains with many more sub-domains, on which questions will be based for the questionnaire to be carried to respondents for final interviews.

Most experts who attended the workshop suggested that the number of questions should be reduced from the tentative list of 168, pointing out that the interview will take much longer and probably not reflect the accurate level of happiness. The department plans to interview about 20,000 adults from 51 districts to get a relatively accurate picture of happiness and satisfaction.

After the idea of a happiness department was floated by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the state government signed an MoU with IIT Kharagpur to assess and develop the index. The 14 domains were arrived at after reviewing global, country and city indices with which happiness is associated while the sub-domains and their indicators were chosen after study of various reports on the basis of ground realities that emerged from primary unstructured and domain-specific interviews with 600 respondents from 10 districts of the state.

Raj Raghunathan, who was one of the experts and is professor of marketing at McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, said the draft was lengthy and the number of questions should be reduced for better assessment.

Dr Saamdu Chetri of Bhutan said the index was work in progress and at least one or two pilots will have to be done before the questionnaire is finalised. He said the interviews done so far are being analysed and it will take a few months before the questionnaire is rolled out.

He said the index will give voice to people and the government will get an idea of what more, if anything, needs to be done. He said developing the index is a time-consuming activity because even though global or other indices are available, they have to be modified to reflect local conditions.