NEW DELHI: The yoga freak in Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to be making his babus do the sit-up for their health! The Central Government, it appears, is not just particular about the “work culture” of its human resources; it is concerned about their health too.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had issued a circular earlier this month, urging the Central government employees to attend a week-long yoga workshop that started last Monday and ended Saturday.
Giving details of the benefits of yoga, the circular, on behalf of Grih Kalyan Kendra (GKK) that comes under the administrative control of the DoPT, said the exercise would be “beneficial for joint pains, lower back pains, diabetes and blood pressure”.
“There is no politics behind this yoga camp. We all know that yoga is good for health. GKK had been organising various programmes, including music workshops, for the benefit of employees and their families. Moreover, it was not mandatory,” a DoPT employee told Express. He, however, admitted that it was for the first time that a yoga camp was held. “It may just be that the political climate is more suitable now,” he said.
According to the official, the response to the first camp held at the Samaj Sadan on Pandara Road here was very encouraging. “We are happy about the turnout and have decided to extend this to other centres, where there are Central government employees,” he said. The timing of the yoga camp was from 7.30 am to 8.30 am, to suit office timing of the employees. “The new government is quite strict on punctuality and one could see most chairs occupied by 10 am. So, we planned our session accordingly,” the official said.
It was only recently that Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar did a surprise check in his ministry and found many late-comers, whom he sent back home for the day on a casual leave.
When asked whether the yoga camp could be read with the recommendations made by Kiran Aggarwal Committee, which wanted to introduce yoga and meditation to IAS probationers as part of their training programme, the official replied in the negative. “That was specifically for the IAS trainees and the government is yet to take a final call,” he said. The new government was seriously considering the recommendation.
The previous UPA Government had decided not to take a call on this fearing a controversy as the recommendations came immediately after the Left had made an issue of the curriculum of state Administrative Training Institutes, which necessitated the officials to do introspection, yoga and meditation. The CPM had found the idea to be too religious and spiritual with Hindutva leanings, and its leader in the Rajya Sabha, Sitaram Yechury, raised the issue with then Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and ensions V Narayanasamy, who in turn decided to withdraw the module.
“This government is quite pro-yoga and it is good for the health of the country if the same is carried out all over,’’ said one of the yoga trainers who attended the session. According to him, the fact that two proclaimed yoga gurus - Sri Sri Ravishankar and Baba Ramdev - are close to Modi itself is good news. “Modiji himself is a yoga practitioner and he is close to both Gurujis. We hope he will initiate more steps to make yoga beneficial to the whole population,’’ said the trainer. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living fame was one of the invitees to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in-ceremony. Baba Ramdev, on the other hand, had been an active presence in the BJP’s election campaign.
As expected, not all are enthused. “It is true that the yoga camp was not mandatory. But if this is going to be a serious affair, there will be an indirect pressure on us to attend such sessions,” said an official in the DoPT.