Suryanamaskar held; MP now plans to teach yoga in schools

Bhopal, India - Declaring its yoga policy at a mass Suryanamaskar programme, made voluntary by a High Court order amid protests from different quarters, the BJP Government in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday decided to teach the ancient form of exercise in schools and constitute a council to promote it.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also announced Rs one lakh award for excellence in promoting yoga, at the main function at T T Nagar stadium here, telecast and aired across the State.

The Government will support dedicated organisations to set up yoga centres, he said adding these centres, jointly with the proposed yoga council, will help in creating awareness about yoga.

"Yoga will be made a part of the physical education course in school curriculum," Chouhan announced, asking students to perform the exercise for a "healthy body and mind".

Made voluntary by a High Court order restraining the Government from compelling students to attend it, the mass Surya Namaskar and Pranayam programme began with recitation of 'Vande Mataram', official sources said.

Around three lakh school children attended the programme at school, District and State levels, they said adding Ministers attended it in different districts, where citizens, private organisations and educational institutions, were also invited.

Baring a stray incident of a sixth-standard student fainting at a school at Shahdol, the event remained smooth elsewhere, the sources said.

The Suryanamaskar programme came under attack of minority communities and opposition parties who had dubbed it as "an effort to saffronise education".

Terming the move as "unconstitutional", a committee formed at a meeting called by state unit of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), had sought Governor Balram Jakhar's intervention in preventing the programme.

The ruling BJP was trying to "incite religious passion under the garb of yoga" among school children, a spokesman of Catholic Church of Madhya Pradesh said.

On petitions by Jamiat Ulma Hind and Bharatiya Muslim Sangh, the High Court on Wednesday ordered that the programme should be voluntary, while State Advocate General Ravinandan Singh maintained that attendance was never intended to be mandatory.