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From compulsory to voluntary yoga day

State government reviews the decision after being criticised by activists and political leaders.

YogaThe Maharashtra government has taken a U turn over its decision to observe compulsory yoga in schools on June 21. The government reviewed the decision after parents and some Muslim outfits criticised the directive. There was huge uproar on social media as netizens said that citizens should decide whether they should observe Yoga Day and its must not be enforced on them. Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde has clarified that observation of Yoga Day on June 21 is not compulsory for the schools. He also blamed the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) for politicising this issue for garnering cheap publicity. Tawde said that no action will be taken against those schools that don’t observe Yoga Day.

Of late, the government has received flak for taking some controversial decisions like banning beef, irresponsible religious comments made by its leaders etc. Several Muslim outfits had slammed the order saying that yoga, including Surya Namaskar, requires a person to bow (to Sun God), and bowing was a practice reserved for Namaz. The UN declared June 21 as International Day of Yoga last year and the Maharashtra government had earlier declared that schools and colleges across the state should observe the same.

anjaliSenior AAP leader, Anjali Damania said, “It would have been better to build a consensus between dharma gurus, priests and Maulana instead of imposing yoga. However, Yoga is merely a form of exercise and it has gained international acceptance. People practice it today as it is beneficial for the mind and body”

DopphyDolphy D’souza, Convenor, Police Reforms Watch said, “I have no problem with Yoga as it is a form of physical exercise. However, government should show some sensitivity. If you make yoga compulsory then you create fear psychosis in children’s mind.”

ZahirMaulana Zaheer Abbas-General Secretary MRCC said, “Yoga is a form of exercise so that should not be a controversy regarding it. I have no problem with it. Schools should teach moral ethics to the boys and should make it compulsory. There is an RSS angle to this definitely.”

AbbasAdvocate Abbas Kazmi said, “Yoga is a form of physical exercise but it should not be forced into people. There are people who have apprehensions about giving a religious angle to it.”

ZalilImitiaz Jaleel, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) MLA from Aurangabad said, “The government has invited unwarranted controversy. It’s merely a cheap publicity stunt. Asanas are against Islam. Students have to perform Surya Namaskar.”

Mohammed Salman, president of Students Islamic Organisation’s Mumbai Chapter, said, “We do not mind if they introduce any activities which help students. However, forcing it on them would disturb harmony and peace and damage the very foundation of secularism.”

VinodVinod Tawde said that the main objective behind issuing this directive was to make students aware about yoga and its benefits. He said, “Apart from Surya Namaskar there are many other asanas in yoga. The intention behind asking students and teachers to observe Yoga Day is to ensure that they understand the importance of yoga and become more efficient in what they do.”

Tawde also added that the government had not intended to hurt the religious sentiments of any community. He further said that the benefits of yoga were accepted not only in India but has gained international recognition too. Tawde said, “The day will be observed internationally and is already being observed in various states in the country. I am surprised at the reactions from various quarters.”

NaqviBJP claimed that it is wrong to link Yoga with religion. “Health is wealth and Yoga is the key to that. It should not be linked with any religion. Whoever wants to take, it they can and people who don’t want to, don’t have to,” leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

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