The government has bent over backwards to make sure its grand yoga day celebration in the heart of Delhi goes off without a hitch on Sunday.
Thousands of security personnel, workers and officials in the Narendra Modi government worked round-the-clock in the run-up to the high-profile programme on Rajpath, a grand boulevard near Rashtrapati Bhavan.
So, when a gust of wind scattered nearly all 37,161 yoga mats laid out on Rajpath and its two adjoining lawns on Saturday morning, authorities hurriedly called the army to avoid a last-minute disaster. In another cause for concern, the Met department has predicted possible rains and thunderstorm in the Capital.
“We called army jawans to help us arrange the mats because time was short. Proper arranging of the numbered mats was crucial because of the involvement of the Guinness people,” said secretary Nilanjan Sanyal, ministry of Ayush.
Guinness World Records has deployed almost 1,500 observers for the outdoor session as the government seeks to set a new world record for the largest yoga demonstration/class at a single venue, breaking a 2009 record set in Gwalior.
The government will shell out more than Rs 140 crore for the International Yoga Day event and promoting yoga in India and abroad over the next year, with events in Delhi accounting for Rs 30 crore.
Sources in the information and broadcasting ministry said the government would spend around Rs 100 crore over a period of time to campaign in all 175 countries that supported India’s demand to the United Nations to declare June 21 International Yoga Day. The culture ministry will spend another Rs 10 core to promote yoga as part of its cultural tourism policy.
Sunday’s showpiece event will begin with a welcome speech by Ayush minister Sripad Nayak followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech to participants, who will perform a set of asanas, or postures, for 35 minutes under the guidance of four young trainers from the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga.
As the government left no stone unturned to ensure the success of yoga day, the Congress responded sharply to the celebrations. “PM Narendra Modi and the BJP have again proven their misconceived capacity and vicious ability of turning anything and everything into an aggressive, divisive and propagandist issue,” said party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
“This time around, it is our ancient Indian heritage of yoga which is being made into a propaganda and public relations exercise.”