Happiness Quotient Is The Bedrock Of A Smart City

Dr Satinder Singh Rekhi speaks on the science of happiness and the objective of well-being towards creating a positive impact on smart cities in conversation with Aditi Chakraborty.

Dr Satinder Singh Rekhi, Founder, Rekhi Foundation for Happiness

Delving into this concept of translating the ‘Science of Happiness’ at a personal and societal level, what led to the formalisation of the centers for ‘Science of Happiness’?

‘Happiness for all’ is our vision, and the purpose of creating the happiness centers is to disseminate knowledge through science and the practice of happiness. The ‘Rekhi Foundation for Happiness’ is a non-profit organisation focused on the practice and understanding of ‘Happiness Science and Positive Psychology’. It has more than 30 Happiness Centers benefiting a large number of students in India and abroad. The ‘Rekhi Centers of Excellence for the Science of Happiness’ aim to promote research, training, education, and the practice of well-being for students and teachers.

How is the ‘Science of Happiness’ different from the ‘Art of Well-Being’?

Happiness is an affective, cognitive, and psychological state of well-being. In the ‘art of well-being’ we practice ways of being happy, but a scientific understanding of happiness is about finding meaning and understanding one’s purpose in life. It is the joy experienced in sharing rather than receiving. To facilitate this, we sponsor mind labs for universities to empirically measure and validate the effect of positive emotions on our overall well-being through research on an individual’s cognition, behaviour and environment. It helps individuals become more optimistic and appreciative of themselves and others.

Chandigarh is among the 13 cities selected in the second round of the smart city challenge of the government’s ‘Smart City Mission’. How do you think the foundation can contribute to the success of the smart city?

The ‘Rekhi Foundation for Happiness’ has a ‘Happiness Center’ at Chandigarh University. So, we have been working closely with the youth of Chandigarh to improve their happiness quotient. To further translate the principles of happiness and well-being techniques at the societal level for the benefit of a larger population, the foundation has joined hands in the initiative towards smart solutions to shape a happier life.

The main objective of the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Smart Cities Mission is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure, a clean and sustainable environment, and a decent quality of life to the people through the application of ‘smart solutions’. In this context, happiness and mental well-being will phenomenally accelerate the fast-paced growth of smart cities.

With reference to the optimisation of environmental balance for sustainable development, an important pillar comprises waste management, sanitation, and hygienic living conditions, which takes us to the government’s other initiative, the Swachh Bharat Mission. Smart Cities Mission and Swachh Bharat Mission both have a common goal of ‘waste to energy smart solutions’. The foundation is part of the drive for ‘happy and smart citizens’.

Happy Citizens = Smart Citizens, a collector’s edition, has been launched by the Outlook publication. What made you associate with the book?

Solid waste management (SWM) is a pretty large spectrum, which encompasses various types of waste ranging from organic to inorganic to industrial to construction material, etc. Recycling of waste in different capacities and awareness drives are undertaken by schools, institutions, and offices. In order to achieve ‘smart city’ status, it is essential that a larger number of people understand and participate in waste management solutions. Chandigarh ‘Smart City Smart Solutions’ has undertaken projects pertaining to basic infrastructure services like water supply and sewerage, sanitation, conservation of energy and carbon control, waste management infrastructure, and improving access and service delivery. Towards educating and explaining the basics of waste management, the role of Safai Karamcharis, and the various government policies and initiatives undertaken, the book on waste management is a fantastic endeavour towards engaging the younger generation.

How do you think the book Happy Citizens = Smart Citizens will impact students and society?

The book is very well designed, with colourful renditions and infographics. Multiple ways of waste management, from collection to disposal, recognising the challenges created by improper waste segregation and how to prevent it, recycling and the technologies, water management, and respect for the Safai Karamcharis, have been beautifully explained through simple storytelling. It captures all aspects of creating a clean India in a reader-friendly narrative, which will not only impact the minds of students but also the minds of adults. The book is easy to comprehend and a ready reckoner of waste management journaling.

How do you correlate the content of the book with the concept of happiness in the future smart city of Chandigarh?

Chandigarh is a beautiful city. To enhance and optimise the potential of the city, as responsible citizens, it becomes our duty to contribute towards waste management and cleaning our surroundings. To do so with sustained commitment, we need to have an optimistic approach to life. Good personal hygiene can dramatically improve one’s emotional well-being. Maintaining clean surroundings will help students take responsibility and bring greater joy to their own lives and to the society in which they live. The Foundation believes that individual happiness is the stepping stone by which an individual not only makes his life meaningful and purposeful but is also able to spread this happiness to his family, community, society, and country at large. Sustainable environmental practices and a positive attitude, go hand in hand. So, both the aspects of healthy living and mental well-being are inextricably connected. The happiness of the citizens will accelerate the growth of smart cities.


What is your message to the students in Chandigarh about building a sustainable future?

You are the future of our country, and as responsible citizens, you have a greater task at hand to make your surroundings happy and healthy for all its inhabitants. Cleanliness, both personal and for the environment, will not only help in socio-economic development; it will also help in character building. Sustainable development, aimed at recognising the needs of the present without compromising, will fuel the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. You don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by the city’s population, can transform the city, state, country, and eventually the entire planet. The mission of spreading happiness will enhance your own happiness quotient and keep the community positive and connected, thus making the planet a better place.


“Sustainable environmental practices and a positive attitude, go hand in hand. So, both the aspects of healthy living and mental well-being are inextricably connected. The happiness of the citizens will accelerate the growth of smart cities”

Disclaimer: The above is a contributor post, the views expressed are those of the contributor and do not represent the stand and views of Outlook Editorial.