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India to create a ministry of happiness, mainly to avoid farmer suicides

India is to establish its first ministry of happiness, dedicated to \"putting a smile on every face\".

Published: 03rd July 2016 08:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st July 2016 06:13 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: India is to establish its first ministry of happiness, dedicated to "putting a smile on every face".

The new ministry will be created by Madhya Pradesh, one of India's poorest and most rural states with a high suicide rate among farmers. It will "track growth" based on the concept of gross national happiness, an idea pioneered by the state of Bhutan.

The new ministry will oversee up to 70 social programmes including yoga, spirituality, meditation and the arts, as well as offering free religious pilgrimages for senior citizens.

"The state will be made responsible for happiness and tolerance of its citizens and will rope in psychologists to counsel people on how to be always happy," said Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the state's chief minister.

Mr Chouhan, a renowned yoga enthusiast, is expected to head up the new ministry personally. He has previously said that "happiness does not come into the lives of people merely with materialistic possessions or development, but by infusing positivity in their lives so that they don't take extreme steps like suicide in distress".

The new ministry emulates dedicated happiness bureaus in the UAE and Venezuela. During his tenure as French president, Nicolas Sarkozy planned to introduce a happiness index as an alternative to GDP for measuring growth.



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