No ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’: In reply to an RTI application, the Ministry of Ayush admits it follows a discriminatory policy of not sending Muslims as yoga instructors abroad

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the mass yoga session on International Day of Yoga 2015 at Rajpath in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the mass yoga session on International Day of Yoga 2015 at Rajpath in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist

New Delhi: Hold your breath for this one: In probably the first admission of its kind, the Ministry of AYUSH has categorically stated in reply to an RTI query that “as per government policy, no Muslim candidate was invited, selected or sent abroad” as a trainer/teacher during World Yoga Day 2015.

The candid admission of discrimination on the ground of religion came in response to an RTI application by the journalist Pushp Sharma who sought information on how many candidates from the community had applied for the post of teachers or trainers of yoga. To this, the ministry had replied that “a total of 711 Muslims had applied for the short term abroad assignment”.

The ministry also said that a total of 3841 Muslim candidates had applied till October 2015 for the post of yoga trainer/teacher with the ministry but none was selected.

The ministry’s shocking reply, which was actually provided in October 2015, has just been published by Sharma in the latest issue of Milli Gazette.

MG RTIWhat is surprising is that the ministry – which deals with ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homeopathy – chose to admit that the reason none of the 26 trainers sent abroad on this assignment was Muslim was because of “government policy”.

In the article, Sharma comments on the “sad situation under a government which does not tire of raising the slogan of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas’ … Here we have, for the first time in the life of this government, a written, blunt RTI reply in our hands which unashamedly says that it’s Modi government policy not to recruit Muslims in government jobs.”

Stating that the reason given by the ministry was even more obnoxious as it terms it a “government policy”, Sharma said, “this reply obviously concerns a certain scheme in a small ministry. You can only think of the wider implications of this policy across the government.

Incidentally, World Yoga Day was organised for the first time on June 21 last year after the United Nations had acceded to the demand of the Government of India to declare the day as such. In several countries across the globe, events were organised to mark the occasion. In India, the main event took place on Rajpath, where Modi had in his address said: “Rajpath became ‘Yogpath’ on World Yoga Day. World Yoga Day tells us that the world is curious to know about India and we must tell the world about our culture, we have to be proud of our culture.”

But the RTI reply of the ministry has clearly shown that India’s culture of inclusiveness is being bypassed.

Also, while some Muslim organisations had vehemently opposed participation in yoga events, saying the ‘surya namaskar’ or the chanting of ‘Om’ went against their religious tenets, many from the Muslim community had participated in these events and even trained others for them.

No matter how much they train, however, it seems Muslim yoga instructors will never meet the exacting standards of the Modi government.

The Wire has asked minister of state (independent charge) for the Ministry of Ayush, Sripad Naik, why it is government policy to not hire Muslims as yoga teachers and will publish his reply as soon as it is available.