Guwahati, Feb. 25: The Assam government is taking steps to ensure that the only bug that will afflict schoolchildren in the state is the fitness bug.
Yoga will soon become a part of the school curriculum in the state, with chief minister Tarun Gogoi expressing concern over an increasing number of cases of diabetes and obesity among children, because of a sedentary lifestyle.
An official at the chief minister’s office told The Telegraph that Gogoi held a high-level meeting with education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to introduce yoga in all schools and help students to lead a healthy and disciplined lifestyle.
“According to the plan, yoga sessions will be organised twice or thrice every week and each class will be more than half-an-hour long before the schools close for the day. A qualified trainer will teach the children. These sessions will begin from Class II and continue till Class X. Younger children will be taught the basic asanas, whereas those in higher classes will be taught breathing exercises and other postures,” the official said.
During the meeting, the chief minister had expressed concern over the fact that a majority of schoolchildren no longer participated in physical activities. They were mainly pre-occupied with study, tuition, Internet surfing and television.
Such habits have resulted in an alarming rise in the number of cases of obesity, diabetes and other diseases.
The education minister told Gogoi that more than 150 children had been diagnosed with severe diabetes in the state and they had to take insulin to survive. The unofficial figures are said to be higher. The cases of obesity are said to be even higher.
The chief minister said besides physical ailments, yoga could also prevent growing indiscipline among youths.
A doctor at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital said it has been medically proved that yoga for children can reduce injuries, improve body performance, digestion, blood circulation, strengthen the immune system, relax the body and promote better sleep.
“Yoga calms and clears the mind, relieves tension and stress, increases concentration, focus and attention span, expands imagination and creativity, improves ability to be less reactive; makes them more mindful of thoughts, words and actions, which are very important for students to become good and responsible citizens,” the doctor said.
Yoga also helps to build self-confidence and self-esteem, the doctor added.
The CMO official said Gogoi has been stressing the need for physical and extra-curricular activities in schools.
Gogoi also said the schools must have playgrounds to promote sports.
Besides schools, Gogoi has laid emphasis on extra-curricular activities in colleges, too. “Extra-curricular activities such as drawing, singing, dancing and holding mock parliaments should also be made a regular feature,” the official said.
Sources in the police said in recent years, it has been found that many school and college students are engaged in crime-related activities. School students were found bunking classes to visit bars and wine shops. A similar trend can be seen among college students.
“Such a disturbing trend among youths can be arrested to a large extent by introducing yoga. If students are busy with sports, they will have less time to watch television and surf the Internet,” the source said.