Madhya Pradesh’s ‘Anand Vibhag’ or Happiness department, the first of its kind concept in the country will be started again. The state government has approved a proposal to reinstate the department as it was merged with the spirituality department by the previous Kamal Nath-led Congress government in December 2018.
The Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government had introduced the Happiness department in Madhya Pradesh back in 2016 on the lines of the neighbouring country Bhutan to measure happiness of its people. The concept had hit national headlines. To serve the real purpose of the concept in reality, the state government had signed a MoU with IIT-Kharagpur for the development of a happiness index to measure the well-being of people in the state in 2017.
In the next course of action, the state government was supposed to start a happiness survey to measure people’s happiness by 2018, but, BJP lost the Assembly elections (in 2018) and the Congress government came into power. The Congress government merged two departments into one and renamed it spiritual department.
The reason being that the objective of it (spiritual department) was to strengthen inter-communal harmony and Sarvadharma Sambhav (equal respect to all religions). The Congress government had then justified its decision of merging the happiness department, saying that such a department has been working under different names in several countries including the US, the UK, Argentina, Denmark and many others.
However, due to political crisis in the month of March 2020, Kamal Nath-led Congress government fell and the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government came back to power.
On Tuesday, Shivraj Singh’s cabinet gave its consent to separate the happiness department from the spiritual department. “The cabinet has given its consent to the proposal to amend the work (allocation) rule for the formation of ‘Anand Department’ and renaming of ‘Spiritual Department’ to ‘Religious Trust and Endowment Department,” the state government said in an official statement on Tuesday.
Now, the happiness department will again come into existence along with a separate religious trust and endowment department. “The Congress government had snatched away the happiness department, which is an important concept to bring happiness among the common people. It is a very positive development that the BJP government has initiated to strengthen the happiness department again,” said state home minister Narottam Mishra, who is also the spokesperson of the government.