MP Happiness Dept to help COVID-19 patients, health workers

Bhopal, Apr 26 (PTI) The BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government has decided to have a separate 'Happiness Department' and use its services to reduce the stress of coronavirus patients and boost the morale of those at the forefront of the battle against the disease.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, during his previous tenure, set up the 'Anand Vibhag' (happiness department) in 2016. But, after the Congress came to power in the state in 2018, it merged the happiness department with the 'Adhyatmik Vibhag' (spiritual department).

Now, Chouhan has directed the state officials to demerge it, and engage the Happiness Department in the fight against COVID-19.

The chief minister has said those infected by coronavirus should be treated in a joyous environment, and emphasised the need to boost their morale and entertain them to reduce their stress, a state public relations department official said.

During a review meeting on the coronavirus situation on Saturday, Chouhan said music, films, inspirational messages and entertaining programmes should be allowed through audio- visual means at COVID-19 hospitals and quarantine centres, the official said quoting the chief minister.

Also, efforts should be made to boost the morale of the staff engaged in the fight against coronavirus, so that they can work without any stress, the chief minister said.

For this, the Happiness Department needs to be demerged and its services be taken, he said.

However, the opposition Congress said the BJP-led state government has 'failed' in the battle against COVID-19 and it should rather focus on handling the situation better.

'This is a publicity stunt. The death rate of COVID-19 patients in Madhya Pradesh is among the highest in the country. The BJP government should rather focus on increasing the testing facilities and provide necessary equipment to the medical centres,' former state minister P C Sharma, who had earlier held charge of the spiritual department, told PTI.

Happiness will be there when people survive, he said.

'This department was there but it was merged with the spiritual department. But, this is not an issue. The BJP regime has miserably failed in the fight against COVID-19,' the Congress leader said.

On the other hand, BJP state vice president Rameshwar Sharma said his party is focussing on bringing happiness in the lives of people.

'The entire world is praising India for its efforts to contain COVID-19. The Congress is full of hopeless leaders, while the BJP is hopeful and focussing on happiness of people,' he said.

'Our hope will bring happiness in the lives of people, the BJP MLA said, claiming that Chouhan's efforts during one month after becoming the chief minister brought good results in the fight against coronavirus.

The Congress did nothing till March 20 (the day when Kamal Nath resigned as chief minister) to contain the spread of coronavirus in the state, he alleged. PTI ADU MAS GK GK