| Agatha Sangma |
Shillong, Sept. 20: Union minister of state for rural development Agatha K. Sangma today called for the need to adopt “happiness index” to gauge how far the citizens are spiritually and mentally well-off.
Criticising the education system for teaching students to work for the sake of earning more material comfort, she said, “Most of the colleges teach you how to develop skills, which will give you a higher pay package or a job in an MNC.”
The Union minister was inaugurating a two-day meet to commemorate the International Day of Peace organised by the Indigenous Biodiversity and Social Welfare Organisation, Meghalaya.
International Day of Peace is observed on September 21.
Tura Lok Sabha MP also said the educational system does not teach how to find contentment by doing the right things.
“I will not generalise, but I think that is a trend, which we see in today’s education system where we are teaching our young people to find a way to become richer materially. But we need to find a balance between happiness through material wealth and contentment through other sources like spiritualism.”
The young minister said the reason why violence had aggravated was because people have either too much or they do not have anything at all.
“People are either too happy or too sad. Material wealth is crucial, but there has to be more equitable distribution of wealth,” Agatha said.
Calling for the need to introduce a “happiness index”, she said, “I think it is very important for developed and developing countries to adopt what is called as happiness index. Today, when we are taking about development, I think it is a very warped kind of development. We talk about development implying that we should own more things or dominating other countries or becoming a superpower.”
She said governments should introspect what kind of citizens they were grooming, and that it was important to measure development not only through the GDP but also through happiness index.
The organisation’s senior adviser and social activist, Rev. P.B.M. Basaiawmoit, said the issues of rights, identity, land and ethnicity were intertwined with the concern for human survival through resource ownership and resource management and sustainable livelihood.
“When these are threatened in any form and manner, there is bound to be conflict with loss to both sides, and peace is shattered,” he said.
Basaiawmoit said climate and development refugees or migrants had sprouted because of the inevitable displacement from traditional and age-old moorings owing to climate change and the warped development ideology.
Touching upon the countrywide strike today, he said while strikes disrupted the economy, anti-people policies would pauperise the people more.
Tomorrow, the organisation will hold a procession for peace in the city.
International Day of Peace has been observed since September 21, 1982, by the UN. This year’s theme — Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future — is related to the Rio Earth Summit 2012.