Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama helped devise the "happiness curriculum" introduced at New Delhi schools on Monday. Picture: Ashwini Bhatia/AP

New Delhi - Students at New Delhi's government-run schools started getting lessons in how to be happy on Monday with the launch of a "happiness curriculum" devised by the Dalai Lama.

The new initiative, which focuses on "holistic education," covers 800 000 students from pre-kindergarten to teenagers at 1,000 schools.

"India is the only country that can bring together modern education and ancient Indian knowledge," the Tibetan Buddhist leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner said, according to the organizers.

"This is needed to deal with destructive emotions in the world. So what is being started in Delhi schools can have an impact on the whole world."

The curriculum focuses on daily mindfulness practice or meditation, moral teachings, mental exercises and activities with the aim of teaching students to be good human beings, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said.

"It's going to ... focus on good mental health, character and resilience. It will address the ever-growing concern [that] levels of happiness and well-being are decreasing while stress, anxiety and depression are increasing," he added.

Delhi is not the first place in India where the state has become involved in efforts to spread happiness among people.

In 2016, the government in the central state of Madhya Pradesh established a "happiness department" to work towards ensuring happiness in the lives of locals.

The initiative is said to have been inspired by neighbouring Bhutan, which has since the 1970s been measuring well-being with a Gross National Happiness (GNH) indicator.