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'Happiness Classes' strikes a chord with US First Lady Melania Trump

Delhi government's new initiative is meant to teach children to be happy with themselves

By Basant Kumar Mohanty in New Delhi
  • Published 26.02.20, 2:38 AM
  • Updated 26.02.20, 2:38 AM
  • a min read
  •  
Melania Trump greets children at Sarvodaya Co-Educational Senior Secondary School in New Delhi, India on Tuesday (AP photo)

US First Lady Melania Trump on Tuesday visited a government school, sat beside the children who demonstrated skills to remain happy and left with a message for the kids to be good to each other.

Melania was all praise for the Happiness Classes, a new initiative of the Delhi government to help children to learn to be happy with themselves, and connected the experience with her own Be Best in USA initiative.

“I urge you to keep working hard every day and want to let you know that your learning will make a difference in your life and those around you. As you continue your learning path, always remember to be good to each other,” she said in her message after visiting the Sarvodaya Co-Ed Senior Secondary School.

The Delhi government has started Happiness Classes in its schools over the past year. According to the World Happiness Report 2019, India is among the least happy nations and ranked 140 among 156 countries, seven notches down from its 2018 rank.

The students do meditation, breathing exercises and yoga to reduce stress levels and develop a deeper insight.

Melania’s Be Best initiative encourages children to be the best in their individual paths and sensitises them on concentrating on well-being, online safety and drug abuse.

As Melania entered the school, situated near the Diplomatic Enclave in the heart of Delhi, primary class children put tilak on her head and showered flower petals. All the children welcomed her waving Indian and American flags. Melania spent a few minutes with the children in the activity room and the reading room, watching them making fruits with clay and colouring pictures. The children of Class V demonstrated breathing exercises during a Happiness Class. On the open ground, another batch of students demonstrated different yoga positions.

Children performed Bhangra and Gidda dances. As Melania left the school, she shook hands and hugged a few children. “This school exemplifies promoting values of kindness, compassion and respect…,” she said.

A teacher of another school said the Happiness Class initiative lacked sincerity and that no teacher had been trained in how to conduct teaching-learning exercises in the classroom on this subject.