Among a number of sweeping changes announced by the United Arab Emirates's prime minister for the first time in the country’s 44-year history, are new ministries for Happiness and Tolerance.
Why? For social good and satisfaction, says PM Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Sounds good, as we know tolerance in indeed in short supply in the nation, and maybe money, given the declining oil prices, is unable to buy happiness.
By the way, creations of such novel ministries is hardly new, if you recall how Bhutan in 1972 adopted a Gross National Happiness measure which was an alternative to gross national product.
Which got us thinking if our very own Modi government should also start new ministries for its own good. After all, in the almost two years it has been in power, it has seen some novel social movements and tackle unusual controversies.
Here is the list:
Ever since Modi came to power in 2014, one thing he hasn't stopped doing – besides flying out of India of course – is taking selfies. There is simply no denying that our man takes his selfies rather seriously, he has even broken the internet on some occasions. Heck, even to save the girl child, one of his earlier solutions was a father-daughter selfie campaign! A ministry dedicated to creating those impeccable selfies in the right way would suit this government. Hang on, don't we also had the most selfie-linked deaths in 2015? The ministry could lay guidelines on how not to die when taking a selfie. Don't click yourself with a running train in the backdrop, for instance.
After Nayantara Sahgal, niece of Jawaharlal Nehru, returned her Sahitya Akademi award because “secularism was under threat”, it was like all hell broke loose. A record number of authors and scholars from all corners of India began to return/announce awards. But, more announcements of awards returned than actually returned. Some returned awards they had never received. It reached new levels of absurdity when recently, some of them began accepting back the awards for no apparent reason. Also, the government kept saying this way of protest isn't proper. Which leaves us wanting a ministry that could specify ways for protesting and returning awards.
But, it could be highly controversial as "intolerance doesn't even exist"! Still, if so may people feel so, this ministry could work for correcting all perceptions that go against the government's stand. Because we are the world's greatest democracy and the land of Mahatma Gandhi. It would deal with all the scientists, filmmakers and historians who issued a joined statement on rising intolerance. And all those who linked the alleged murders of rationalists MM Kalburgi and Govind Pansare and lynching of men over beef consumption to this supposed phenomenon.
Science is fast replacing pseudo science under his rule – so goes the allegations against Modi. After all, the 102nd Indian Science Congress in Mumbai last year - Modi’s first as PM – saw claims like Indian sages in the Vedic period developed spacecrafts that could transcendent planets. This year, the Congress at Mysuru hailed Lord Shiva as the world's greatest environmentalist. Now, Modi himself acted as the promoter of mythology-as-science when, at a speech in Mumbai at the Ambani family event, he said some plastic surgeon must have replaced Ganesha's face with that of an elephant! He so needs a mythology ministry that would probably 'correct' the history of inventions in the world. More importantly, this ministry could study all the ancient surviving texts to remake all that we had in the Vedic period. And probably, return to the good ol' days of centuries ago.
Last but not the least. Under his rule, some of the existing ministries have turned the micro-blogging platform into an efficient grievance redress forum. Be it tracing a teenage girl who eloped with her classmate to rescuing a harassed female passenger on a train to helping distressed NRIs – Modi's ministers are doing it all, one tweet at a time. Modi himself, with 17.9 million followers, remains the second-most followed world leader on Twitter after US President Barack Obama and the second-most followed Indian after Amitabh Bacchan. When twitter is driving governance, it deserves a ministry.