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Narrow mindset

Narrow mindset
Highlights

The good that Prime Minister Narendra Modi intended to do with the global launch of the International Yoga Day has been partially undone by the unseemly and totally avoidable controversy over the ‘miss’ allegedly given to the event in New Delhi by Vice President Hamid Ansari.

The good that Prime Minister Narendra Modi intended to do with the global launch of the International Yoga Day has been partially undone by the unseemly and totally avoidable controversy over the ‘miss’ allegedly given to the event in New Delhi by Vice President Hamid Ansari.


Not just that, the Rajya Sabha TV (RSTV), supposed to be under his charge, was accused of “blacking out” the event. The channel and the public at large were reminded that it is run “on taxpayer’s money.” A Minister had to say ‘sorry’ and the matter was sought to be hushed up by a red-faced government. We were told that Ansari was ‘unwell’ and, hence, did not participate – till his office clarified that he was fine, but not invited to the event.


That the President and the Vice President do not attend an event presided over by the Prime Minister is laid down in the protocol anyone familiar with public affairs knows. But not Ram Madhav – the man solely responsible for causing the government this embarrassment, with his tweets on the social media. He is a senior BJP leader, drafted by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) to work within the party.


Educated about the protocol and lambasted on the social media for his partisan, unwarranted comments, he chose to delete the comments and unilaterally declare, “the matter ends there.” Period. “My apologies because d institution of VP deserves respect,” he posted. Pray, when did he realize this? He took note of President Pranab Mukherjee’s ‘participation,’ but not that it was a separate function, up on the Raisina Hill, at Rashtrapati Bhavan.


Were his unedifying postings based on ignorance, or was he targeting the Vice President because the latter belongs to a certain community? Media postings have referred to his diatribes against people of minority faith. Among his ‘victims’ has been Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. It is a narrow mindset at work.


Modi’s message to the country and to the world was inclusive and universal. The responses from many individuals and groups also hailed yoga and its practice. Some do have problems, and a society as diverse as India’s cannot be led by the nose and things cannot be imposed. The beauty lies in keeping things flexible and more important, voluntary.


But the penchant and passion of making anything and everything ‘compulsory’ have cropped up again. Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani has announced that yoga would be made compulsory in central government-run schools. The education field is already plagued with numerous controversies, some of them, at least, emanating from the combative Minister who routinely accuses the media for deliberately misquoting and targeting her.


Modi and his government would need to carefully handle such sensitive issues. Yoga can, and should, touch everyone’s life. But for that, teaching it at school level, to “catch’em young”, should be left voluntary. Yoga’s appeal should, and can, remain universal, in essence and spirit, only if left untrammeled by rules framed and imposed by narrow mindsets.

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