Kolkata: From ‘Quit India Movement’ to the much-awaited ‘Fit India Movement’, India seems to have come a long way in terms of health and happiness. In 1947, about 725 healthcare centres were there across the country (according to records of the Indian Journal of Public Health). At present, as many as 19,567 Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres are operational in India with plans to increase the numbers to 40,000 by 2019-2020. This clearly shows how much priority the government has been giving to the health sector.
From accepting Virat Kohli’s fitness challenge (during ‘Hum Fit to India Fit’ initiated by Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in 2018) to passing the challenge to former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy — for Prime Minister Modi, mornings begin with a walk inspired by five elements of nature — ‘prithvi’, ‘jal’, ‘agni’, ‘vayu’ and ‘aakash’.
India has already improved its ranking on a global healthcare access and quality (HAQ) index (based on 32 causes of death which could be prevented through proper medical care) from 153 in 1990 to 145 in 2016. However, it still ranks behind Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Brazil, Russia and South Africa and well below the global average. At a time when the global HAQ index average is 54.4, India’s scored 41.2 (2016). This was 24.7 in 1990. The HAQ index was created on a study titled Global Burden of Disease.
Also, as far as the ‘happiness index’ is concerned, India has performed poorly till now. On March 20, 2019, the United Nation released its World Happiness Report that put India in the 140th position in a list of 156 nations. The last three years rankings have been 118, 122 and 132, respectively. People from neighbouring countries of Pakistan, China, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh seemed to be happier, according to the report.
A fitness enthusiast, the Prime Minister is now focused on improving India’s global healthcare and happiness index. To start with, he conceptualised the idea of the ‘Fit India Movement’ that’ll help include physical activities and sports into the daily lives of citizens.
On August 29, Modi will launch the movement from the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, New Delhi. The programme will be telecast live on Doordarshan. During the launch, the PM will also administer a ‘fitness pledge’. RS Julaniya, Union Secretary (sports), told News18, “The whole idea was conceptualised by our Prime Minister. During the presentation, he gave us simple tips that can make us healthy in our day-to-day lives. The whole idea is to design your surrounding in a way that moves in equal intervals to keep yourself fit.”
He said, “I would like to clarify that it is not a campaign, but a movement. We want to suggest to people that bring simple ideas of exercise in daily life to stay fit. You don’t need a gym to keep yourself fit. You can stay fit by following simple rules like climbing stairs and playing. We are hopeful that there will be maximum participation from all the states.”
All the states have been requested to make necessary arrangements for live telecast of the event in all schools and encourage maximum participation of students and teachers in taking the ‘fitness pledge’. On August 23, there will be a video conference on ‘Fit India’ by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and all the state governments were requested to participate in the same as well.