Why Fit India wasn’t allocated funds in the Budget
The government made a conscious decision to not set aside any money in the 2020-21 Union budget for ‘Fit India,’ an initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 29, 2019, to encourage Indians to adopt a healthy lifestyle and stay physically fit.
The reason was that the Prime Minister wanted Fit India to become a people’s movement which individuals and organisations would join voluntarily without any overt push by government agencies or the support of public funds, two government officials aware of the matter said, requesting anonymity.
“It is not a government programme. In this, the government’s role is that of a catalyst to make it a people’s movement,” one of the two officials said.
“The Fit India Movement is a movement to take the nation on a path of fitness and wellness. It provides a unique and exciting opportunity to work towards a healthier India. As part of the movement, individuals and organisations can undertake various efforts for their own health and well-being as well as for the health and well-being of fellow Indians,” the official added.
The ministry of youth affairs and sports has set up a Fit India Mission in which business groups like the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) are playing a major role. The mission is promoting the Fit India movement through partnerships with corporate entities, the second official said. A CII spokesperson confirmed this.
“The importance of Fit India movement does not get undermined only because there is no separate, dedicated fund for the initiative. It is a mission for all citizens, government departments, corporates and non-governmental institutions to work towards a healthy India,” the second official cited above said.
A Fit India Mission executive, who requested anonymity, said several corporate entities were associated with the Fit India movement. To promote the initiative, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) offers a venue free of charge to organise events devoted to health and fitness.
“Currently digital fitness platform GOQII has tied up with the Fit India Mission to host active Sundays across the country where families undertake various fitness activities every Sunday under the guidance of expert trainers,” the executive said, adding that the Fit India website had received more than 10 million visitors since its launch.
Spokespersons for the sports and finance ministries did not respond to queries. Fit India Mission director Ekta Vishnoi declined to comment.
The Mission collaborates with institutions and corporate entities based on certain parameters. “Partners are selected on the basis of their commitment towards a healthy lifestyle and they have to follow certain sets of dos and don’ts, which are called ethics for Fit India partners,” the first official said.
Partners have to pledge not to engage in body shaming and any kind of discrimination on cultural, dietary, religious or racial grounds. No product can be marketed as an essential Fit India product and no food can be promoted as a fitness food or supplement, he said.
“Partners are expected to promote physical activities that could be undertaken easily at anytime, anywhere. They should make fitness a fun activity such as sports, dancing, playing, walking, cycling, and spending time with family for outdoor activities. The entire fitness programme should be free without any compulsion of buying any equipment or joining any club,” the official added.