Premium for happiness
Three-term Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan appears to have pulled a bunny out of the hat with his announcement that a ministry of happiness is in the works. Chouhan has reportedly said that worldly possessions and development through statistics is not the only measure of happiness, and that the proposed ministry will work towards keeping people “genuinely happy”. He also admitted that the idea was borrowed from Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness that questioned the conventional obsession with Gross Domestic Product, which is a purely monetary concept. The GNH attempts to quantify good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation and environmental conservation by ascertaining psychological well-being, awareness levels and living standards. Since winning re-election in 2013, Chouhan has been shaken by the Vyapam scam, rural distress and drought. With rural poverty rate at just 12 per cent and urban poverty at 1.8 per cent, Bhutan can afford to focus on citizen’s happiness. In contrast, MP’s poverty rate hovers around 32 per cent. While Chouhan may contend that worldly possessions and statistics should not matter much, try telling that to the poor and the neo-middle class.
Trump turns defensive
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s statements have attracted much concern and criticism but he has sought to turn the tables by claiming that he had no patience for political correctness. He has brazened it out for long, cheered on by his ultra-conservative and anti-establishment support base, but the latest statements he has made about women have invited a firestorm of protests. On March 30, Trump proposed “some form of punishment” for women who have abortions, if they are made illegal. For a change, Trump has backtracked, and shifted his position saying that doctors who perform abortions should be held responsible, and not the pregnant woman. With Trump leading in the primaries, he appears to have realised that the race is now his to lose. He has also made disparaging comments about fellow candidate, Ted Cruz’s wife. Moreover, without significant support from women voters, Trump cannot hope to win in the presidential elections later this year. Through this campaign, Trump has consistently hit out at journalists, minorities and women, but shown no sign of contrition. If Trump still manages the Republican nomination, it will be a new low for the Grand Old Party.
For a police force that has been making the news for all the wrong reasons, timely action by the Delhi Police, after a dentist was murdered in West Delhi, prevented social media from going overboard with spreading rumours that would have communalised an already fraught situation. The attempt was to paint the attackers as Muslim and the victim as a Hindu, losing sight of the plain fact that a life was lost to mob brutality and the culprits had to be brought to book irrespective of their identities. Delhi Police DCP Monika Bhardwaj took to the same medium, in this case Twitter, and ruled out a communal angle and that the attackers included adults and juveniles from both communities. There is much to learn for police forces from this episode. Bhardwaj’s tweets went viral at a faster rate than the ones by mischief-makers and allowed the Delhi Police to take the upper hand. It is important that engagement with social media become an integral part of the communication strategies employed by police forces across the country.