A dose of health
The Fit India Movement was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the overall well-being of the country’s citizens. On the occasion of the movement’s first anniversary, we take a look at the milestones it has achieved and how it is becoming a mass campaign
On August 29, 2019, celebrated as National Sports Day in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Fit India Movement at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, New Delhi. Fit India is a nation-wide campaign aimed at encouraging people to include physical activities and sports in their everyday lives. Combine this initiative with the Prime Minister’s other flagship drives such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and International Day of Yoga and the underlying narrative becomes clear – to transform a country with one of the most ancient civilisations and which presently is home to the largest population of youngsters, to a cleaner and fitter nation. The fact that the entire world is going through one of the worst pandemics in human history puts the necessity of this vision in true perspective.
Within a year of its launch, the Fit India Movement has not only gained momentum but was also termed as ‘Hit India Movement’ by PM Modi on its first anniversary. To mark the occasion, the Prime Minister held the ‘Fit India Dialogue’, a virtual meet, where he interacted with fitness icons and enthusiasts from across the country, including Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar, fitness influencer Milind Soman, Paralympian Devendra Jhajharia and ace footballer Afshan Ashiq. The meeting, held on September 24, 2020, also saw participation from Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs.
The three Pillars
The Fit India Movement stands on the three strong edifices. The first pillar says that the movement is a continuous activity and an intrinsic part of everyday life. It is not just an annual calendar event. Interacting with the audience during the ‘Fit India Dialogue 2020’, the Prime Minister stressed on the inclusion of a fitness regime in our lifestyle on a regular basis. He said: “Fitness ki dose, aadha ghanta roz (a dose of fitness for half an hour daily).” He added that a family that plays and exercises together develops an emotional bonding, which has been proved during the lockdown period. The second pillar is that everyone, regardless of age, can be a part of the movement. Stressing on this factor, PM Modi launched ‘Fit India Age Appropriate Fitness Protocols’ for three age groups: 5-18 years, 18-64 years and those above 65 years of age, during the anniversary celebrations. These protocols have been developed by an expert committee, comprising such noted personalities as Dr KK Deepak, professor and head of the department – Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS); Dr P Majumdar, head of Sports Science, Sports Authority of India; and IV Basavaraddi, advisor, Ministry of AYUSH, to name a few.
The guidelines even categorise the exercises and yoga asanas one should practice according to age, the duration and the number of rounds for each asanas. For example, tadasana (palm tree pose) and dhanurasana (bow pose) are listed for the 18 to 35 years’ category; vakrasana (seated spinal twist pose) and setubandhasana (bridge pose) are advised for those between the age of 35 and 50 years. For those between 50 and 65 years, the protocol suggests practicing anuloma-viloma (alternate nostril breathing) along with sukhasana (easy pose) and shavasana (corpse pose).The third pillar says that this initiative is holistic and participatory, and aims to become a people’s movement.
The visible transformation
During the launch of the campaign in 2019, PM Modi had said that Fit India will be a step towards curbing rising instances of lifestyle disorders and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Throughout the year, various events have been organised under the aegis of the Fit India Movement like the Fit India Freedom Run, Plog Run, Cyclothon, Fit India Week, Fit India School Certificate and various other programmes. The Prime Minister has also spoken about it in his public addresses. It is encouraging to note that over the last one year there has been a perceptible change and increased awareness among Indians about staying fit. A fact corroborated by Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, when he said, “More than 10 crore people have participated in the Fit India campaign since its launch.” A larger number of people are exercising regularly and there have been changes in food habits as well. Speaking during the anniversary celebrations, PM Modi said that he is happy that “healthy eating is becoming a part of people’s way of living”.
To make the movement even more effective, the National Education Policy 2020, states that sports and sports-integrated education are to be made mandatory in the school curriculum and will not be seen as only extra-curricular activities. It is, therefore, safe to hope that the impact of this change is going to be transformative in terms of encouraging students to follow their passion and opt for sports and physical activities as viable career options. The Fit India Movement has completed its first year at a time when humanity is fighting against the worst pandemic it has had to face in the recent years. This trying time has come as a wake-up call for the course-correction required in our lives – to stay physically and mentally fit, eat right and be healthy. Globally, there is an increased consciousness about the imperative need for fitness. The World Health Organization has come up with a global strategy on diet, physical activity and health along with recommendations. If Indians, armed with the ancient knowledge of health and fitness imparted through yoga and Ayurveda, are able to make the principles of ‘Fit India’ an intrinsic part of their lives, the country can look forward to becoming a healthier, stronger and confident nation.