The Shiv Sena-BJP ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has approved a proposal making yoga and 'Surya Namaskar' mandatory in all civic schools.
BMC's general body cleared the proposal tabled by BJP corporator Samita Kamble yesterday with an aim to improve overall health of students by incorporating the ancient exercise regime into their daily routine.
The ruling allies rejected the amendment demanded by Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP) to make yoga optional for schools. They also struck down SP's demand for removal of 'Surya Namaskar' (sun salutation) from the proposal terming it as a "form of Hindu worship".
The decision has invited ire from opposition parties which dubbed the move as a ploy to ‘promote Hindutva’ and ‘saffronise’ education.
"Making Surya Namaskar compulsory in schools is a way to promote Hindutva as the origin of Surya Namaskar lies in Hindu God Surya (Sun)," Samajwadi corporator Rais Sheikh said.
Sheikh said Muslim parents would stop sending their wards to school if BMC goes ahead with the proposal.
Former minister and state unit Congress vice-president Naseem Khan said the move is ‘unconstitutional’ and will be opposed tooth and nail.
"This is another case of saffronisation of our education system and it is in complete contravention of fundamental rights prescribed in Constitution which allows every citizen to live and educate themselves as per their own religious thoughts," he said.
Questioning the timing of the proposal, Khan said, "Since BMC elections are near and sensing their defeat, they (Sena and BJP) have now played this saffronisation card for political gains, which could have very unwarranted consequences. Why didn't Sena and BJP combine, which has been ruling the BMC for last 20 years, bring the proposal earlier?"
Defending the move, BJP corporator Dilip Patel said, "Now yoga has been internationally accepted as the best form of exercise. Bringing yoga into the religious ambit is a political tactic by opposition parties".
“Surya Namaskar is a form of meditation, and if practised regularly, it will help children progress, both mentally and physically,” another BJP corporator said.
BMC runs 1,188 primary and 49 secondary schools in Mumbai. This includes nearly 400 Urdu-medium schools. About 4.85 lakh students study in primary schools while another 55,000 study in secondary schools.
With PTI Inputs