Why the 'I didn’t do Yoga today' rants are needlessly over the top
Let’s get one thing out of the way first. I personally find our Prime Minister bending it like BKS Iyengar at Rajpath and the Indian government’s global overdrive for International Yoga Day rather funny. It stands for what the Modi government really has been all about so far, loud campaigns propelling an overall change in sentiment and mood, but no substantial legislation or governance initiative towards economic revival or strengthening social security.But the noise from the usual suspects at the Indian 'secular-liberal camp' has been rather nauseating and, as it usually does, reeking of pungent hypocrisy. Not like Sagarika Ghose can be representative of the whole tribe, but ‘flip-asana’ image doing the rounds today does illustrate the double-speak quite aptly. There were others who took the effort to go beyond just a lazy tweet.Says Nirupama Subramaniam in her column,“I am not going anywhere near my yoga mat on June 21 — because I won’t have the prime minister or the government of India, or any politician, dictate my fitness (or wellness, if you like) choices on that day or any other, especially if they are going to link them, overtly or insidiously, to religion, nationalism, patriotism and morality. It is insulting to both the practice of yoga and the practitioner to have it thrust down in this manner. And to impose it on those who do not want to do it or have no interest in it is worse, because it can only give yoga a bad name, as it has in the last few weeks, and turn something beneficial into a divisive issue.”It is understandable to have a problem with anything the government does. But what is with the fear mongering?In the run up to the General Elections, this what was we were told to expect once Modi is in power.And when this is happening,we say, “Oooo, Yoga is Hindutva!”Here are the problems with this narrative of hatred being built against International Yoga day.Who is dictating anything to anyone, especially to citizens? I woke up this morning quite entirely oblivious to all the Yoga-noise. If I was a Yoga practitioner for its health benefits, I would have simple joined the crowd, or not. Whatever. Who is “thrusting” it on anybody? Why are words like “impose” used?As for it being projected as a tool of nationalism, patriotism or religion, here are the highlights of PM Modi’s speech today.Yoga should not be a commodity, should not be commercialised.Yoga will bring the world together.Yoga is not just exercise, but a philosophy which transcends caste, creed and community.With Yoga, we begin an era of peace and amityIs this really so bad?Here is another rant I have seen doing the rounds: How will Yoga help poor, malnourished children?The logical extension of this argument is this.How will RTI Act help poor, malnourished children?How will better schooling help poor, malnourished children?How will better rural infrastructure help poor, malnourished children?We can ask Yechury, how does the fight against communalism and Hindutva help the poor, malnourished child? And if Modi is politicising Yoga, isn’t the response to it indulging in exactly the same?As one of our bloggers asked here, are many opposed to IDY just out of their habit of differing from most things put forth by Modi government by percieving it as Hindutva propoganda?Yoga Day does not trample over our social freedom. It does not force anyone of us, especially the free citizens in the media, to do anything. It is political, yes. There is some substance to the argument that the government need not spend massive public resources on the Yoga day. But when I think back at all the fear mongering which was done during the 2014 campaign about how Modi government would unleash riots all across the country and we would get back to the medieval age, the image of Modi doing Yoga at Rajpath only makes me laugh and get on with my day.And in case you were wondering, I did not do Yoga today because I am a lazy bum who thinks a 1km walk to the metro station is enough exercise for a day. There was no Hindu right-wing conspiracy against my lethargy.Also Read: Why was June 21 chosen as International Yoga Day?