Growth and happiness

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s happiness ministry is an innovative approach, but it may be better to focus on the basics for now

A file photo of Chouhan. Photo: Hindustan Times
A file photo of Chouhan. Photo: Hindustan Times

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is branching out when it comes to his state’s development. On Thursday, he announced a “happiness ministry” to track growth.

In his words, “The state will be made responsible for happiness and tolerance of its citizens and will rope in psychologists to counsel people how to be always happy.”

Somewhat sloppily put, but the concept of so-called happiness economics has been around for years now.

It has occasioned serious debate about taking a broader approach to development than focusing on gross domestic product (GDP) as a metric.

But such subjective measures are only relevant in developed economies, where GDP per capita has passed a certain threshold. In countries below that threshold such as India, there is a direct link between GDP and quality of life/happiness.

It’s not a bad thing for administrators to attempt innovative approaches. But for now, focusing on the basics will yield the greatest returns.