A year ago, the Maharashtra government asked educational institutions to observe International Yoga Day.
This year, the University Grants Commission (UGC) that regulates and finances public universities has asked colleges and universities across the country to promote PhD courses in yoga, and encourage foreign students to take courses in the subject.
The direction came in a circular the UGC issued on Friday, following a request from the AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) ministry. It said as the country prepares to celebrate its 2nd International Yoga Day on June 21, the Prime Minister has suggested starting a course. “During discussions, the PM desired an attempt be made to promote PhD courses in yoga for foreign students,” a letter written by the ministry states. The letter was forwarded by UGC, with a circular asking universities and affiliated colleges to share details of foreign nationals who may be interested in doing such a course.
“The AYUSH ministry has said it is willing to award fellowships to students selected or recommended by the universities,” the circular read.
The compulsory celebration of Yoga Day last year did not go down well with many schools and colleges, but the option of a PhD in the field has impressed many educationists. “Instead of blindly forcing children to celebrate Yoga Day, this option makes more sense. Only those who are interested will apply,” said the principal of a south Mumbai college, not wishing to be named.
However, officials at the University of Mumbai pointed out that with this circular showing up so late in the academic year, finding students who may be interested, especially during the vacation time, will be difficult. “Once students are back, we can pitch this idea to them,” a senior official said.