I’m not totally familiar with all the levels of government in India nor with how its university system is set up, but this story from Economic Times suggests that all the emphasis Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is putting on yoga is having a big impact:
Just a few days after he urged world leaders at the United Nations to adopt an International Yoga Day, the University Grants Commission (UGC), under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, has asked all recognised universities to start offering yoga and meditation lessons on campus to promote “holistic well being” of students.
It’s unclear at this point whether these lessons would be compulsory for students. Universities will have to employ qualified yoga instructors for this purpose and are also free to charge a small fee from participants.
“A clean and healthy mind is as important as clean environment. Students these days are stressed and do not lead a healthy lifestyle. Health clusters in universities are the need of the hour. This idea might be new to India, but abroad it’s the norm,” said a senior UGC official, who did not wish to be identified.
Apart from yoga, universities and affiliated colleges are also expected to generate awareness about healthy diets, drugs and substance abuse, benefits of exercise and also promote communal harmony. Although the circular hasn’t made implementation of ‘Swachh Bharat, Swasthya Bharat’ compulsory, UGC officials told ET that they expect that most educational institutions dependent on grants will comply.
According to the ET, this isn’t the first time the government has tried to promote yoga at the university level — but it wasn’t successful before. Strangely enough, this may be an instance when the West’s appropriation of another culture’s practice may boomerang back with positive results. I wonder if it will be a more “Western,” exercise-oriented asana; it sounds like it from what little we have to go on here.
Posted by Steve