After rolling out initiatives to turn New Town-Rajarhat into a smart city, now, with the help of IIT Kharagpur, the township is aiming to become the happiest part of India!
The New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) and West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO) has asked Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness of IIT-KGP and IIT-KGP’s Ranbir and Chitra Gupta School of Infrastructure Design and Management to help them up the happiness index of New Town-Rajarhat. And to mark the beginning of this initiative on Thursday, 16 March 2017 a one-day national workshop on ‘Happiness and well-being at New Town, developing a road-map’’ was organised by NKD and HIDCO in association with IIT Kharagpur.
“So far our journey as a developing township has been full of innovation. Now with the help of IIT Kharagpur we would like to know what we can do now and in the coming years to convert this space into the happiest part of the country,” said Debashis Sen, additional chief secretary of government of West Bengal, CMD of HIDCO and chairman of NKDA.
The World Happiness Report 2016 places India at 118th in the world’s happiest countries’ list, down from 117th in 2015. Another survey in 2016 found Chandigarh as the happiest of all the Indian cities, where Kolkata was ranked10th. “We have asked IIT KGP to find out about the quality of life at New Town and how it could be enhanced. They would also be benchmarking New Town with the happy cities all over the world. Be it creating infrastructure, providing facility, ensuring well-being of the citizens, finding out about their needs and aspirations we have sought for a detailed report in six-month times. The government will then start acting upon the implementation part,” Sen added.
To begin with, the duration of the project will be of two years during which IIT-KGP will not only study the happiness index of New Town and suggest measures to further upgrade it but would also ensure pilot implementation of the recommendations. And in the process IIT Kharagpur will also organise workshops with stake holders of New Town and train the master trainers, who in turn would impart the message of positive thinking and changing the mind-set of the residents.
In September 2016 IIT-Khragapur became the first institute of the country to start a micro-credit courses on ‘Science of Happiness’ for its students. Currently its Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness is teaching science of happiness, stress management, coping with loss and positive psychology to all its students. “We have already started to spread happiness among our students and now we are on the mission to covert New Town into a happy place. Slowly we would love to turn it into an epidemic,” said Prof. Partha Pratim Chakrabarti, director of IIT Kharagpur.
“We have put some of our best people to work on this project. We too are coming up with a science and research park here in Rajarhat. So we will not only be advising you but we will also be a part of you, therefore the efforts will be completely integrated and personally I will be in it as I do for all the projects,” said Prof. Chakrabarti.
Commenting on what happiness quotient means, Satinder Singh Rekhi, honorary chairman of the Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness said, “Happiness is a unique blend of heart and head. It is not about one over powering the other but it is about creating a balance between the two. Our goal is not only to make New Town a happy place but to make whole of Kolkata become number one city in happiness index.”
The New Town-Rajarhat Township is spread over 7628 acers. Over 36000 people reside here and the place has 80,000 visiting population.
IIT Kharagpur proposes to look at these issues with special focus on the green city of New Town in order to develop a road-map for:
1. Assessment of stakeholders’ quality of life, subjective well-being, needs and aspirations
2. Assessment of community facilities and infrastructure
3. Assessment of New Town in terms of other smart-to-be cities
4. Development of recommendations and guidelines including training protocols for changing mind-sets
5. Pilot implementation and assessment through pre-post measures