Anil Kumar Ganeriwala donned many roles in the Government sector, including that of joint secretary of the AYUSH Ministry. He was one of the pioneers in propagating the need to declare an International Day of Yoga. He was also the nodal officer in charge of International Day of Yoga and took several steps to spread Yoga day in India and abroad. Our magazine got the privilege to do an email interview with him to understand in detail about his works in promoting the AYUSH system of medicines.
- What was the role played by Ayush Ministry to organise the International Day of Yoga?
The Ministry of AYUSH is responsible for promotion, development and growth of Traditional System of Indian Medicines, including Yoga. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an appeal to the world community in his United Nations General Assembly address on 27th September 2014, to adopt an International Day of Yoga. This proposal was subsequently approved by UNGA on 11th December 2014 with a record 177 co-sponsoring countries whereby 21st June was declared as “International Day of Yoga”. The Ministry of AYUSH was entrusted with the task of celebrating this historic moment by organizing the First International Day of Yoga on 21st June, 2015 on an unprecedented scale involving various Central and State governments, Yoga schools and institutions, Civil Society. The Ministry also coordinated with Ministry of External Affairs for organizing this event through our Missions across the globe.
- The role played by you as nodal officer for International day of Yoga
As Joint Secretary in the Ministry of AYUSH, I was given the overall responsibility of planning and organizing this event in close coordination with all other agencies, including Yoga Gurus and institutions. The preparation for the event was initiated as early as January,2015 by convening a meeting of Inter-Ministerial Committee where representatives of various Yoga centers and Institutions were also invited. After day- long deliberations, a broad framework for the event was finalized which included a mega event of Mass Yoga Demonstration at Rajpath and organising an International Yoga Seminar at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. As the event being organized at Rajpath was a novel idea without any precedence, creating its blue-print was the biggest challenge for me as the nodal officer. Enlisting the support of various participating agencies such as different Ministries, Armed Forces, Para- Military Forces, Schools and Yoga institutions was a huge task for the Ministry as our resources were limited. The next five months involved mobilizing all the stake-holders and entrusting them with specific responsibilities to ensure the grand success of the event.
- What are the steps taken to ideate the Yoga Day in India?
It was decided that mass Yoga demonstrations would be organized from 7 AM to 7:45 AM at Rajpath, all state &district headquarters, armed forces, NCC, para-military forces, schools, colleges, all our missions abroad and Yoga Institutions. For this purpose a Common Yoga Protocol of 45 minutes incorporating basic Yogic exercises, pranayam&dhayan was developed by a committee of eminent experts of different Yoga centers headed by Dr. H.R. Nagendra, SVYASA, Bengaluru. The booklet on Yoga Protocol was published in different languages and distributed across the country and to missions abroad. Massive community outreach programme was launched by mobilizing various agencies, Yoga institutions, NGO’s and both Print and Electronic Media. A logo for International Day of Yoga was adopted after an All – India competition which was launched by Minister for External Affairs and Minister for AYUSH before the event. Also, the Ministry launched an interactive Yoga portal and organized online Yoga quiz competitions for creating awareness among the youth.
- The biggest challenge was to ensure entry of thousands of people at one venue. What were the steps taken to overcome it?
As the Government had decided to record this historic event in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest participation at a single event and the presence of maximum number of nationalities to add true international flavor to the event, very precise preparations were required as per the norms of the Guinness authorities. As per the Guinness Book World Records, 35,985 participants from 84 nationalities were present during the event at Rajpath. The participants were drawn from various ministries, Yoga institutions such as Patanjali Yogpeeth, Art of Living, Gayatri Parivar, Isha Foundation, Brahma Kumaris, Armed forces, Central Armed Police Forces, Delhi Police, N.C.C., Schools. Training programmes were organized for all the participants in different location taking the help of various Yoga schools. It required great deal of coordination with various agencies such as Delhi Police, Transport Department, security agencies and a number of rehearsals on the site to ensure hassle- free entry of approx. 37,000 participants, officials and auditors of Guinness Book of World Records and their positioning at designated places within a short span of two hours.
- What is the status of Yoga now in India?
Yoga has received tremendous government and institutional support since the declaration of 21st June as International Day of Yoga as a result of which acceptability of Yoga as a means for holistic healthcare has increased manifold. Authentic certification of Yoga teachers and instructors jointly by Quality Council of India(QCI) and the Ministry of AYUSH has created a huge pool of trained manpower in Yoga for taking up employment in Schools, Colleges, Spa’s ,Private Yoga centers. Yoga Olympiad for school children is being organized by the NCERT every year. Graduate and post-graduate courses have been started in many universities. Yoga has been included in the curriculum for Physical Education in schools. National Council for Teachers Educations (NCTE) has made Yoga as a compulsory component in all teachers training courses. The Government of India has supported number of multi-centric research studies in Yoga for therapeutic use.
- Now Yoga is being recognized globally. How it is accepted world-wide?
Popularity of Yoga has been growing in the Western world for the past few decades and the declaration of International Day of Yoga gave further impetus to Yoga as a scientific means for achieving holistic healthcare and well-being. Indian Missions in collaboration with Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) have established Yoga training centers in many countries. Globally- renowned Yoga gurus like Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, Baba Ramdev, Sadh Guru Jaggi Vasudev regularly organize Yoga programmes around the world and have mass following. Yoga has also become a source of employment for Yoga trainers and people involved in the industries for Yoga accessories such as apparels, mats, etc.
- A final word on what YOGA means to you
Yoga, for me, is a spiritual and scientific discipline which focusses on bringing harmony between the mind, body and soul. It is a key to fitness and wellness. In the present fast- paced life-style leading to stress and depression, Yoga offers an easy, affordable and effective solution. Yoga is not just a set of exercises for physical fitness, but also is the first step towards spiritual journey. Yoga as a uniting force can bring people together, resolve conflicts, promote harmony and foster world peace.