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UGC asks all universities to introduce yoga and meditation

Education NewsNew Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aggressive promotion of yoga seems to have made a believer out of the country’s higher education regulator. 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. The yoga sessions will be part of UGC’s positive health programme, an extension of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by HRD minister Smriti Irani on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in Anand, Gujarat, last week.

Under the ‘Swachh Bharat, Swasthya Bharat’ (Clean India, Healthy India) scheme, universities will have to promote healthy living along with cleanliness. The UGC will provide financial assistance to universities to implement this scheme. “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. This is not UGC’s first attempt at promoting yoga. Under the XI Five-Year Plan, the regulator had initiated a scheme for ‘Promotion of Yoga Education and Practice & Positive Health in Universities’, which was a non-starter. “The government’s focus on cleanliness and healthy living gave fresh lease of life to the proposal to promote yoga on campuses,” said another UGC official.

Source: The Economic Times

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