You may be aware of the Supreme Court ruling to take a decision on the framing of a national yoga policy. In my opinion, the policy decisions by the Union government should be implemented in all the states and Union territories.
I would like to suggest that you hold a meeting with all chief ministers and Lt Governors to get a crystal clear idea about the priorities of a national yoga policy—what the Centre intends to implement should be first clarified. Whether it means yoga will be made compulsory in all schools and colleges or will yoga courses be added to the curriculum in schools and colleges or whether a new centre of excellence in yoga will be implemented.
I often have a feeling that some yoga practitioners or teachers are not competent to conduct yoga classes. I admit that there are very knowledgeable gurus or masters of yoga in our country. But, some vicious elements have come up with the bad intention of money-making in the name of yoga. The government should curb this menace and give a national licence for all the qualified yoga trainers.
It also should be emphasised that yoga is an exercise not only for the body, but also for the mind. And, it is not a practice for a particular religion only—it is a practice for the entire mankind.
Let the people decide
The prime minister deserves credit for initiating the process which gave yoga international recognition at the UN forum, that encouraged the global community to celebrate the International Day of Yoga on June 21.
The apex court's decision to leave it to the Union government to make a national policy on yoga and to decide whether to make yoga mandatory in schools, is underwhelming and goes against the spirit of the Constitution, especially, the fundamental rights of a citizen.
Our classrooms have always been the premises of experimentation for the policy makers—be its marks versus grades, board exam versus normal exam, or nationalism versus curriculum. We need to encourage learning, over labels like 80 per cent, 90 per cent and 100 per cent. The freedom of learning need to be instilled through creativity, ethos and innovation, without any enforcement.
I appreciate your efforts to promote yoga. It was a matter of pride for us when the UN declared June 21 International Yoga day, which reaffirmed India's soft power. But, imposing yoga and making it compulsory in schools will not get you results. You once said that unless and until you inspire people, you will not get results. Imposition will never give you results, inspiration will. Have you forgotten your own words? It is true that yoga is beneficial for physical and mental well being. Yoga increases concentration but what is the guarantee that children will connect with it if it is forced? Yoga provides mental peace but it can only be achieved if children are able to connect with it.
Ours is a secular country and imposing one religious view on another can have a disastrous impact. It is better to take citizens into confidence. The government should promote yoga but also deal with the apprehensions of the minority communities. The government can clarify that yoga does not only mean chanting shlokas or doing suryanamaskar but there are several other aasanas as well. The advantages of yoga should be widely disseminated through the proper use of mass media.
If indeed it should be introduced in schools, it should be introduced as an optional subject. Children should voluntary embrace it rather than accept it as a decree.
Catch them young
The Supreme Court has come up with a wonderful proposal to the government to consider the forming of a national yoga policy with the goal of making yoga compulsory in all schools and I am certain that being a yoga enthusiast and practitioner yourself you will only be too happy to deal with it on a priority basis.
The benefits of yoga being manifold, the younger generation, and especially children in schools, will enormously benefit from the discipline that originated in our country and has taken the world by storm. A comprehensive yoga policy, too, should be in the interests of all as it could be instrumental in highlighting the essence of yoga and bringing it within the reach of the common man as well.
The HRD Ministry could be entrusted with the task of taking yoga to schools by first introducing it to government-run schools and then widening the ambit to include private schools as well. The practice of yoga can also ensure a healthy mind in a healthy body for school and college students and also take them on to the right path in their formative years themselves and that would have a pronounced impact on their lives as they grow up and become adults.