Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the opportunity of his most recent Mann Ki Baat radio address to announce a campaign for a fit India, beginning August 29th.
“It will be an interesting campaign for all alike, women, children, young and old,” he said. The announcement of the campaign could serve as a boon to the health of a nation, given that physical activity and fitness is associated with manifold health benefits – notably a reduced rate of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). “There will be goals that will be fixed for it, too. It is currently being celebrated as National Sports Day,” Modi added.
The announcement was celebrated by Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju, who urged every Indian to participate. “There is a perception in the country that sports is an extracurricular activity,” he said. “We need to bring a change in this system and sports need to be brought in the mainstream. Every person should play some or the other sport.” Rijiju is part of a 28-member advisory committee informing the initiative, which also includes Indian Olympic Association President Narinder Batra and actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra.
Promoting physical activity is key in reducing NCDs. They are the leading cause of death in India, accounting for 61 percent of all deaths. Shifting lifestyle trends are one reason behind this, including greater numbers of the workforce in India now employed in sedentary desk jobs as opposed to manual labour. As such, it is important to encourage physical activity to ward off risk factors for NCDs such as obesity, which is becoming more common in India. By 2025, India is expected to be home to 48.3 million obese people, seventeen million of whom will be children.
Prime Minister Modi has won praise this year for his efforts to promote physical fitness. GOQii named him India’s most influential person when it comes to health, writing “our honourable Prime Minister is not only keen on improving India but keen on improving the health and fitness in India as well.” In particular, Modi’s efforts to gain yoga international recognition were touted. He succeeded in convincing the United Nations General Assembly to designate June 21st as the International Day of Yoga, observed annually.
More details of the Fit India campaign will be announced tomorrow.