Forced Observation of international Yoga Day Under Govt. Diktats

In September 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his first speech as the United Nations, had appealed to the UN mark 21 June every year as ‘International Yoga Day’ in recognition of the benefits of practicing yoga. Later a draft resolution initiated by India was passed by the UN to celebrate 21 June 2015 as the International Yoga Day. It may be noted that 21 June also happens to be the death anniversary of the founder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. This year the BJP led Central Government has decided that the entire country, including all the educational institutes must ‘compulsorily’ observe 21 June 2015, as the ‘International Yoga Day’. In letter issued by the UGC to all universities, it has been clearly mentioned- “In the morning a Demo by Yoga Practitioners will be organized on Yoga Day. The willing students and faculties of the universities will practice yoga as shown by the practitioners. The other students/faculties will, however, observe the same” (Letter, D.O.F. No. 1-1/2015). The letter goes on to add the universities and colleges must send “Action Taken of the preparation for holding this event to UGC by email”.
In keeping with the its characteristic non democratic style of running the government, where each day the citizens are forced to undergo loyalty test, the BJP MPs have already gone on record issuing threats to deport all those who do not choose yoga as their preferred medium to reach good health. Additionally, as can be inferred from the UGC’s own letter, there isn’t much of choice left to citizens since either by way of doing or watching, they are resigned to participating. The fact that institutions are required to submit a formal Action Taken report further expose the hollowness of claims that participation in this gimmick is not compulsory! Such forceful imposition of any practice on institutions by the government is condemnable. In such a context, it is extremely unfortunate that any voice that is being raised against ‘forceful imposition’ of yoga or the efforts to ‘communalize’ yoga is being treated as ‘anti-yoga’ itself. There couldn’t be a further disservice to the practice of yoga which has proven benefits to people.
The debate today is not on benefits of yoga. The crucial question of the day is how long can we allow this government to evade the burning issues of our times by resorting to superficial antics like these? The BJP led government at the centre has time and again mockery of issues of like health and hygiene by confining them to one day rituals that are performed for the benefit of cameras without any structural level changes being initiated or planned.
The government of the day perhaps as forgotten that for good health to be ensured, the first task is to ensure survival. Today we have a government that does not mind spending crores and crores on this one day spectacle, but when it comes to ensuring survival by way of ensuring nutritious diet and affordable health care, it deems it best to cut the existing budgets for the same. For instance, in the last union budget:
• The allocation for the midday meal scheme, which aims at improving the nutritional status of children in government and local body-aided schools, was cut down from Rs. 13,215 crore to Rs. 9,236 crore.
• The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme was subjected to a 54.19% cut.
• The budget for NHRM – Reproductive and Child Health Flexible Pool was cut to the tune of 21.63%.
Is it not absolute hypocrisy that while the government has shown no serious concern towards providing citizens affordable, accessible and quality medical health facilities along with adequate nutritious diet, wants to have us believe that when it stresses on compulsory yoga, it is only being guided by concerns of our well being!! If it was indeed so, we would have seen serious steps towards ensuring the access to nutritious diet was made a fundamental right and concrete efforts towards ensuring affordable quality medical facilities in more towns and villages!! Ironically while BJP Chief Ministers are going out of their way to even cut down nutrition from existing midday meals that the children are getting, by banning high protein items like eggs, they still want us to believe that they are really concerned about health.
Today, we really need to ask the BJP government about its stand on Right to Food and Right to quality health care services, before it lectures on how to maintain good health. Here, it must be also be mentioned, that while the government is claiming to be concerned about good health, where in past one year have we seen it trying to create better infrastructure to ensure that practices like yoga, running, walking and other fitness regimen are accessible to all and not just to those with adequate economic resources. Where have seen policies to create more parks, or institutes to train fitness experts?? Should not the government work on creating accessible and affordable infrastructure and live it to people to decide what suits them best!!
It would be naïve to assume that the statements from the likes of Adityanath, the emphasis on ‘imposition’, and the coinciding of yoga day with death anniversary of Hedgewar are mere coincidences. There is a telling link between these wherein lies the problem, and not in yoga per se.
For years, people have practiced yoga and derived benefits from it, but never before has it converted into a loyalty test for the citizens. JNUSU resolutely opposes all attempts to impose and communalize yoga, along with governmental support to the likes of Ramdev who have tried to monopolize yoga and use it to sell thousands of its own products ranging from detergents to conditioners to snack items.
Several practitioners and researchers have documented yoga as originating from a non-theistic Indian philosophy and how the introduction of the idea of God to the practice of yoga is much later phenomena. By imposing and communalizing yoga, the government is only likely to narrow rather than broaden its beneficial reach!!

Saffronisation of FTII: Students oppose BJP appointee Gajendra Chauhan

FTII Students protest BJP saffronisation , Gajendra Chauhan

FTII student strike against Appointment of BJP man Gajendra Chauhan as Chairperson

Oppose BJP agenda of saffronisation of educational institutions.

AISA Stands in solidarity with the students of FTII in their strike against appointment of BJP man Gajendra Chauhan as Chairman. 

The indefinite strike called by FTII students is a much-needed resistance to the attempts of the BJP government to impose the RSS agenda of saffronisation of education.

Ganjendra Chauhan has been made the new Chairman of FTII – a post which has been honourably occupied in the past by the likes of Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Girish Karnad, Shyam Benegal, U.R. Ananthamurthy and Saeed Akhtar Mirza. Gajendra Chauhan’s sole claim to ‘fame’ is his role as ‘Yudhishthir’ in the mega serial Mahabharata!

Barring this role (which he played way back in 1990s), he has made absolutely no contribution in carrying forward India’s film and television culture. His real credential and ‘contribution’ is in fact his long-standing support for the BJP/RSS!

For more than two decades, he has been an active supporter and campaigner for the BJP as well as for the likes of Asaram Bapu. He has openly espoused several causes dear to the Sangh brigade – including opposition to celebration of Valentine’s Day.

See Video: (Video credits- Ajayan Adat, FTII)

Along with Gajendra Chauhan, Anagha Ghaisas and Shailesh Gupta have been appointed into the FTII’s Governing Council. Like Chauhan, their only credential in the world of cinema and television seems to be their enthusiasm and willingness to produce propagandist videos and films to suit and spread the RSS/BJP’s ideology.

Ghaisas has for instance produced a film saluting the demolition of the Babri Masjid as a much-needed and awaited ‘revolution’ in India, and Shailesh Gupta has made films to promote Modi as a ‘messiah’!

The appointment of Gajendra Chauhan, Shailesh Gupta and Anagha Ghaisas show a clear pattern – the desire of the Modi government to infiltrate and fill all institutions with their ideologues, and to kill vibrant democratic spaces of debate, discussion and dissent.

From the FTII, to the ICHR, the IITs and the Censor Board of India, efforts are on to fill RSS ideologues in each and every institution and to convert these institutions in the Hindutva mould of ‘cultural nationalism’ and aggressive communalism.