I have to say that travelling from the UK to Kharagpur is not the easiest of journeys, in fact it took me more than 25 hours door to door BUT it was SO worth it!

This international workshop was organised by the Institute’s Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of happiness. The Rekhi Centre was founded by alumnus Satinder Singh Rekhi who is experienced in assisting governments, corporates and the paramilitary forces to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Two main themes were discussed, Wellbeing in communities, cities and states and happiness in the digital age, which was the title of my talk. On reflection, it might have been ambitious to talk about the subject of technology is such an esteemed university but in a mock trial, I represented both the defence and the prosecution, leaving the audience to act as jury.

I think in the main we agree that social media and personal technology can be a support or a threat to wellbeing, depending on how we use it. Pooja V Anand, Positive Psychology Center Consortium for Research at Delhi University expressed it this way – “a knife can kill a person or save a person’s life, depending on how we use it”.

Discussions took place on how we can accurately measure happiness and improve a nation’s happiness quotient. Although we were not able to provide (all) the answers (yet), there was interesting discussion and progress made on a number of topics and conversations flowed over the three days of this event.

Thanks to the technology of the internet it was possible to use Skype to hear both Jeffrey Sachs and John Helliwell, editors of the World Happiness Report, give an in depth explanation of how to interpret the data.

The Centre is currently running MS and Ph.D Programs in the domains of Positive Psychology, Community well-being, Creative Arts, Pedagogy, and Technology development for happiness.