The Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr Harsh Vardhan, appealed to the country’s youth to embrace the “Yoga life” for ensuring themselves a lifetime of mental and physical fitness. Addressing students of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur today, the Minister said, “I am a man of science and a surgeon by training in the allopathic branch of medicine. I assure you Yoga does not contradict science –it is science. I invite you young budding engineers to experiment with Yoga because soon you will realise that it qualitatively enhances your productivity, apart from making you a more sociable and healthy person.”
He recalled being one among an elite group of participants at World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Kobe meeting of policy makers in 2000. “There was consensus that health is a state of physical, mental, social and spiritual well being of an individual, not merely freedom from disease and infirmities. To achieve that the world’s leading policy makers struck a consensus on Yoga being one of the potential indigenous solutions,” he stated.
Dr Harsh Vardhan told the assemblage. “As engineers you must be aware that Germany is the world’s largest exporter of engineering goods. They make engines of the most superior quality there. What you perhaps didn’t know is that in Germany’s leading technological universities, students are introduced to Yoga and Sanskrit because they have found out that it makes young minds more creative and innovative for greater scientific productivity.”
Hundreds of students, teachers and staff turned out for a special event at the campus on the occasion of the first United Nations “World Yoga Day”. The Minister’s presence bolstered their enthusiasm and they responded positively to the inherent message in the Prime Minister’s campaign, to popularise yoga on an unprecedented global scale. The eminent Yoga practitioner from Allahabad, Swami Anand Giri, gave a highly invigorating lecture with demonstrations on Yoga asanas.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “Yoga is India’s greatest and oldest gift to the world. It is not a ritual, but a scientific expression. Western medical science has woken up to the goodness of yoga as it treats the person behind the disease, not just the symptoms. Yoga also produces unique mental stability, makes a person more balanced in his perception and in Australia it is taught to prison inmates because it replaces the criminal mindset with positive energy.”
The Minister pointed out that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had mainstreamed Yoga into the country’s public system. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, a separate ministry has been created for Yoga –as part of AYUSH. It is part of the premier hospital system of the country –AIIMS – in six cities of India.
“You are the cream of our student community. I am sure that Yoga has seated itself in your already deeply scientific consciousness. Let it be the fulcrum and guide your creative spirit. That is why this term ‘Yoga Life’ has been created,” he said.
Dr Harsh Vardhan expanded the term –“Yoga Life” – to cover humankind’s responses to the problems bedevilling mankind and the future of the planet.
“Yoga is about unity – of the sun and the moon within you. If you take up the Yoga life, your body retains all the vigour of youth while your mind matures to absorb the concerns that shape progress. This happens only in individuals today, but once the Yoga Life becomes the establishment you will see remarkable changes in every sphere of society,” he said.
The Minister also attended a large camp organised in Kharagpur town by the Nehru Yuva Kendra and Patanjali Peeth. Hundreds of people turned up in response to the Prime Minister’s call to celebrate the goodness of Yoga.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “The people of Bengal have a rich tradition in Yoga. Sri Aurobindo devoted his life for Yoga. His life is for all the highest expression of Yoga. If only we follow a small part of his example, the country will surely achieve its maximum potential.”
He recalled the great propagation of Yoga’s wellness on an international scale by Paramahamsa Yogananda, another great Yogi from Bengal, in the first half of the 20th century.
“The Autobiography of a Yogi”, written by Yogananda in the early 1940s is one of the greatest bestsellers of the 20th century. Dr Harsh Vardhan urged huge audience to read the book as it is believed to have transformed many lives.
He said, “The great American president, Calvin Coolidge, embraced the Yoga Life after meeting Parmahamsa Yogananda. He became the United States’ premier Yogi and following his example thousands of ordinary Americans turned to Yoga. A huge Yoga centre was established in Los Angeles which still thrives.”
Earlier, yesterday evening, Dr Harsh Vardhan, visited the “Science and Technology Museum” within the campus of IIT Kharagpur. He was shown around the place by Dr Partho Chakrabarti, Director, and was impressed with its remarkable exhibits showcasing the products of the research of the eminent seat of learning and inquiry.
This was followed by a brainstorming session with the Director and Deans of different departments. He said that though IIT-Kharagpur was a leading centre of research under the IIT system, there was need for greater coordination and greater synergy with laboratories under the Centre of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Ministry of Earth Sciences (MES).
Dr Harsh Vardhan remarked, “I see here that you are implementing projects of international value, and some are even sponsored by CSIR, DST, DBT and MoES. I think that there should be better networking and more sophisticated coordination between the IIT system and the laboratories under the Ministry of Science and Technology.”