Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has just won a famous friend in his battle against alcohol, tobacco and junk food.
Yoga and lifestyle guru Swami Ramdev, who commands a huge following across the country, has offered to help the Union health ministry to get the masses off unhealthy addictions.
“We’ve been in touch and we’ll work together,” Ramadoss told HT.
Winning support for his clean lifestyle initiative from people other than public health experts is a first for Ramadoss. He has a track record of antagonising many famous people, from Shah Rukh Khan for smoking in public to Vijay Mallya for naming his IPL team after an alcohol brand.
Ramadoss and Ramdev now appear to have patched up differences over the curative powers of yoga for AIDS.
“Even when I criticised yoga for treating AIDS because of lack of scientific proof, I maintained that Swami Ramdev was doing a public service by promoting this ancient exercise form,” said Ramadoss. “Prevention is better than cure and if a healthy lifestyle that includes yoga can reduce the risk of disease and early death, I’m all for it.”
Lifestyle diseases cause over half of all deaths among people aged less than 60 in India. Lately, Ramadoss has been advocating yoga in a big way and has requested HRD Minister Arjun Singh to make it compulsory in schools. “Supporting yoga is not a populist decision but one backed by science,” Ramadoss said.
“Yoga has been scientifically proved to reduce hypertension, overweight and lower stress. And if it is coupled by reduction in smoking, alcohol and junk food, the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancers and diabetes will be reduced drastically,” he said.