Following a meeting earlier this year on 2nd January that Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani chaired, the government has set up a committee to suggest how universities can start yoga departments. In the meeting, the decision to establish departments of Yogic art and sciences in universities was also taken.
According to a report submitted by a HRD-appointed panel on setting up yoga departments in universities, the government should in the first phase begin from six varsities. Six central universities – one each in the north, south, east, west, central and north-east, are likely to start a department of yoga from the forthcoming academic session.
These are Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Uttarakhand, Visva Bharati in Shantiniketan, Central University of Kerala, Indira Gandhi National Tribal University in Amarkantak, Manipur University in Imphal and, either the Central University of Rajasthan in Ajmer or Central University of Gujarat in Gandhinagar.
Several universities already have yoga centres but, in the absence of a national-level framework, there are differences in admission procedures and course content. The committee headed by Professor H.R. Nagendra, the chancellor of Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bangalorewas then asked to identify courses in yogic art and sciences along with the recognitions likely to be offered for each programme – certificate, diploma, postgraduate degree or research. In lieu of the same, the panel headed by H R Nagendra who is also regarded as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s yoga guru, had recommended six kind of courses ranging from certificate courses to Bachelor’s, Masters and PhDs.
The committee had also recommended that expertise of Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth, S-VYASA Yoga University headed by Nagendra and some other institutes could be used for setting up of these departments.
The panel had also recommended a grant of Rs 10 crore to each university over five years for setting up of these departments.
On May 17, 2016 the AYUSH ministry clarified that during International Yoga Day on June 21, chanting ‘Om’ as well as other Vedic mantras prior to the commencement of a yoga session wasn’t compulsory and would be voluntary. The government had released a ‘Common Yoga Protocol’ which was meant for distribution in universities, schools and government offices.
The protocol said that before starting yoga exercises there should be a two-minute prayer preceded by chants of Om and some Sanskrit Shlokas. As per the official release, this should be followed by 18 minutes of yoga postures and pranayam.
Yoga has been getting special attention from the NDA government since it took charge in May 2014. The National Yoga Day was organised across all institutions in a big way last year on June 21.
The NCERT has also published books to promote yoga in schools.