Modi sets India on road to fitness with new campaign
"Technology has made us unfit in many ways; people used to walk, cycle or run earlier... we don't now. Every Indian needs to take fitness seriously."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to set India on the road to fitness, launching the 'Fit India' movement on Thursday, saying this was urgently needed and would take the country towards a healthier future.
He launched it a colourful ceremony in New Delhi, which included a presentation of indigenous martial art forms, dances and sports.
In a slightly philosophical vein, Modi said technology had contributed to a sedentary lifestyle.
"Fitness has always been an integral part of our culture. But there is indifference towards fitness issues now. A few decades back, a normal person would walk 8-10km in a day, do cycling or run," Modi said.
"But with technology, physical activity has reduced. We walk less now and the same technology tells us that we are not walking enough," he added.
The launch was attended by Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and this year's National Sports Awards winners among others.
"We will take this movement to new heights with the cooperation of my fellow Indians. I am so glad that this movement is being launched on the birth anniversary of Major Dhyan Chand, the hockey wizard," Rijiju said at the launch.
The Prime Minister congratulated the winners of the national sports awards and hailed India's sporting achievements.
"Be it boxing, badminton, tennis or any sport, our athletes are giving new wings to our aspirations. Their medals are not just a result of their hard work but also a reflection of a new India's confidence," he said.
The Hindu quoted him as saying, "there is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs." The PM exhorted every Indian to take a fitness pledge and follow it up in their daily lives
The Fit India campaign is just one of the prime minister's initiatives on general fitness. He had earlier helped push through the International Yoga Day [June 21] at the global level; Modi is said to do yoga every day, despite his busy schedule.