Haryana govt presses to re-designate Khattar’s yoga ‘coach’ as ‘officer’

Varinder Bhatia
The coach, Jitender Sagar, who is among 16 yoga coaches working across Haryana, is employed with the Sports Department and currently posted at Panchkula.

Haryana's two key departments, Finance and Sports, have entered into discord over changing nomenclature of yoga coaches to yoga officers. Insiders revealed to The Indian Express that the move has been initiated to benefit a yoga coach, who teaches yoga to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar at the CM's residence.

The coach, Jitender Sagar, who is among 16 yoga coaches working across Haryana, is employed with the Sports Department and currently posted at Panchkula.

"Panchkula is the only district that has two yoga coaches," a senior officer said.

Talking to The Indian Express, Jitender Sagar admitted that it was on his "request" that the Chief Minister and senior officers pursued his case, but Ashok Khemka, the then Principal Secretary (Sports), stonewalled it.

"When I am teaching the top post (Chief Minister), I know each and everything. I know what is going on in the government," Sagar said.

"I have been teaching yoga to the Chief Minister for the last two years. Not only him, many officers also call me during weekends, also on days when Chief Minister is not there. Many MLAs and MPs too call me to teach them yoga. It is a long list," he added.

About the change in nomenclature, he said: "I requested the CM 2-3 times, verbally. Then ACS (Additional Chief Secretary, Finance) T V S N Prasad called me and asked me that I should get this thing done from him. I was told that it will be done. It is due to Mr Khemka, it has not yet been done".

The Sports Department, however, has not bought the plea. On the file pertaining to the change in nomenclature, Khemka wrote, "Change of designation will give rise to several anomalies. The designation 'Coach' implies a different set of functions and duties than the designation of 'Officer'. The spirit of the sports department will be killed if the designations are changed in this manner. In this case, the FD suo motu reconsidered its own decision implying that FD has acted under pressure from the top."

Haryana Sports Department has 66 sanctioned posts for yoga coaches across the state, out of which 16 are filled and remaining 50 are lying vacant.
Documents accessed by The Indian Express, revealed how the Finance Department had been insisting on changing the nomenclature of yoga coaches.

First, a move was initiated to change it from Yoga Coach to Senior Yoga Coach that was later shelved. Documents further reveal that Finance Department, then "re-examined" its own decision and decided to change the designation from "Yoga Coach" to "Yoga Officer". The move, according to the department, should be applicable to those coaches who have completed 25 years of service. However, the Sports Department again vehemently refused Finance Department's contentions pointing out that such a move shall not only "lead to various anomalies" but also "litigation".

File notings accessed by The Indian Express revealed that the Sports Department even recorded that in case yoga coaches are re-designated as "officers", they may begin seeking higher pay grades.