The video challenge by MoS Sports Ministry, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has been a success. People from all across the country, from celebrities to the common man are sharing their fitness videos, to show that they too are fit and by prodding others to do the same. While the country goes on its morning jogs and exercises, some are still muttering under their breath, criticising the video challenge-campaign.
To no one’s surprise, it’s a writer from The Wire, who right now would probably be seated in an air-conditioned room, dreaming about Mamata Banerjee as PM in 2019.
The writer in an article titled “Elitist #HumFitTohIndiaFit Campaign Divorces Fitness From Health,” claims that this is an attempt to put ‘self before society’. The author misses out that is that the campaign seeks to inspire others by setting an example. He states that the campaign promotes an ‘elitist and Page-3 notion of critical issues of health and fitness.’ He then cites examples of how Anushka Sharma and other politicians, by posting videos of them exercising in a private gym is an indication of the same.
This is of course a very selective approach of looking at the issue because many, many tweets, be it Shefali Vaidya’s mother doing yoga or the picture of the 75-year old Sri Ramaswami Iyengar in Melkote, carrying water from the sacred pond every day, show common people trying to be fit in the most ordinary of ways. The author doesn’t cite these example because that punctures the narrative that whatever the government does, panders only to the upper class.
Look at the fitness!! Sri Ramaswami Iyengar, aged 75 plus years carries water from Sacred pond to Sri Yoganarasimha Swamy hill Temple of Melkote everyday climbing 200 steps@narendramodi @Ra_THORe @imVkohli @mepratap @sriharimk @srivathsa04 @srinidhibs_85 pic.twitter.com/rvw1y1d7Rf
— Ramapriya Sampathkumaran (@ramapriya1989) May 25, 2018
The writer further writes that those posting videos are doing so to please the political establishment and their ideology or to borrow from Namrata Zakaria’s dictionary, ‘to suck up to the boss.’ He states that the video of JNU’s VC exercising is also an attempt to please the political class. This is an argument that can be given only by a person who treats fitness as a BJP thing, alien to the Congress or the Communists and as though it isn’t something universal, done by people for their well-being. But Congress’ Manish Tewari also joined the challenge, a rare incident where at least one member of the Opposition has appreciated a good initiative by a Union Minister.
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) May 25, 2018
The writer claims that such videos boost ‘self-obsession’ because maybe according to him, being fit to keep oneself healthy is ‘self-obsession’ and also says that even Swachh Bharat is done by people to gain entry to a ‘Page-3 club in national media.’ He clearly doesn’t understand that Swachh Bharat is no more a government campaign but has rather become a people’s campaign. When students join the Swachh Bharat Summer Internship Campaign to devote 100 hours to improving cleanliness, they do not do so to gain attention but rather to give back something to their country, with a feeling of selflessness. The writer does not seem to understand such sentiments.
The writer then equated fitness to autocracy, in the most unbelievable way.
“The hierarchical relationship in fitness centers is possibly what begins to provide legitimacy to autocracy, and one ‘hands over’ one’s body to another in hope of fitness. At a political level, such reasoning has manifold implications.”
This is stupid on so many levels. Firstly, is it already established that going to a gym is not the only way to get fit. Secondly, how can a trainer’s instructions be equated with political autocracy? Then, even a teacher who holds a student’s hand to guide him while he/she is learning to write should also be considered as some sort of preparation for dictatorships, at a ‘political level.’
Since this article was published in the Wire, how can the RSS not find a mention in the article? Of course, it does find a special mention.
“It must never be forgotten that physical drills with the objective of military training of Hindus were a core programme of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh from its initial years.”
Here again, the writer looks at fitness to be some sort of activity that is to be exclusive to only a few, here, the Sangh. He says that fitness is the RSS thing to do. One only needs to look at the Black Christian and liberal hero, Barack Obama (who doesn’t exactly fit into the Left’s view of a Sanghi man) doing push-ups to prove the writer wrong. There are many such examples.
When all over the world, awareness is being raised about the risks of leading a life without exercise and the call to people to lead a fit life is being heard loud and clear, a similar appeal in India attracts the ire of the Left. A simple campaign that inspires people to become fit is unnecessarily given political colors and is even rubbished by journalists. Surely, an initiative with a noble idea at its center should not be treated in such an unfair way. But then again, if I wish so I would be expecting too much. It is better for the rest of us to get fit and healthy rather than trying to prod the naysayers into doing the same. Let them be left behind, while the rest of us contribute to a more fit and healthier India, each of us in our own ways.