The University Grants Commission (UGC) has planned to induct yoga into the curriculum of public-funded universities, hoping to cash in on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for the ancient discipline and its growing popularity across the world.
The apex regulatory body for higher education has prepared a proposal to introduce BSc and MSc in yoga in all 40 central universities from the 2016-17 academic session and, later, in state and deemed universities, sources said.
“It is imperative that Indian universities engage themselves in strengthening scientific evidence of the positive effects of yoga and meditation on human health. In order to pursue education and practice in yoga, it is proposed to establish centres and departments of yoga in the public-funded universities,” the proposal says.
The move came a year after the UN General Assembly adopted an India-led resolution to declare June 21 as Inter national Day of Yoga. Prime Minister Modi led a mass yoga session on the first international yoga day in 2015 at Rajpath in Delhi, setting a record for the largest gathering of people — 35,985 — performing yogic exercises together at one place.
“Looking at the gover nment’s renewed push to promote yoga, it was time we made an effort at institutionalising it,” an UGC official said.
Welcoming the move, educationists said, it would not only help promote yoga in a big way but also open job avenues.
“We have enough people preaching yoga but need qualified practitioners of the discipline. The way yoga has become popular these days, there are ample job opportunities for qualified yoga experts,” said Professor TV Kattimani, vicechancellor of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, a central institution in Madhya Pradesh.
The opposition Congress too praised the move but questioned its implementation. “The idea sounds good and we appreciate the move but it smacks of ad hocism and should not be done in haste. A lot many factors should be taken into account before yoga is introduced as BSc and MSc programme in universities. For example, will students find employment after doing the course? Can they become teachers without getting a BEd degree?” party spokesperson Tom Vadakkan asked.
The UGC proposal states that each university will set up a department of yogic art and science.
The regulatory body will soon form a panel of experts to develop a curriculum and syllabus for the subject to be taught as three-year BSc and two-year MSc programmes as well as draw up a set of qualifications for hiring faculty.
The experts will be drawn from some universities that are already offering yoga as an optional subject.
In June 2015, human resource development minister Smriti Irani introduced yoga as part of the curriculum in government-run schools.