There were no official functions on the 4th International Yoga Day at Mizoram, which was observed across the country and abroad, media reports inform. Mizoram is a Christian-majority state. Reportedly, Church leaders feel that it is “essentially a Hindu religious practice”. The Young Mizo Association and some other student organisations also opposed yoga by describing it as a “hidden agenda of Hindu organisations like the Sangh Parivar”. Only the Assam Rifles observed the day as the concluding day of the ‘Healthy Mizoram Campaign’ ~ probably therefore, in a statement, the People’s Right to Identity and Status of Mizoram Party reportedly said it would end imposition of yoga on security personnel if it comes to power. But because this Northeastern state didn’t observe the Yoga Day, it would also be erroneous to perceive Mizoram as “theocratic”. While it is true that Mizoram is governed by the Congress Party, the non-observance of the Yoga Day also doesn’t come across as a “political defiance” of the powers-that-be at Delhi but more as a state and a people, who know their mind and follow the dictates of their mind. You see, it isn’t so much about religion or religious practices but about standing on one’s convictions and clarity of intent. Anyone who wishes to practice the ancient art of yoga and/or observe the Yoga Day has all the freedom and rights to do so ~ in the same token, anyone who doesn’t, also have the same freedom and rights not to do so. Indubitably, Mizoram is fully seized of the constitutional provisions, including the guaranteed freedoms and rights, and has shown no fear to embrace them. Not observing the Yoga Day could also be construed as a clever electoral strategy ~ seeing that Mizoram would go to the polls in a few months’ time ~ but it appears that it is the Church and the NGOs that have led in saying “No” to observing the Yoga Day and the state Government has not stood on their way. Clearly, Mizos know who they are, what they want and how much they will take.
The World Cup 2018 is turning out to be very riveting not because of hitherto unseen brilliance on the field but because most calculations made so far vis-à-vis the football superpowers are proving to be awry. And it is likely that in the next three weeks, we will see more of the dissolution of old calculations. If Argentina plays against Nigeria the same way it played against Croatia, that South American country may strike off its name from the list of football superpowers, as could Germany. The current World Cup could likely mark the emergence of the underdogs ~ well, it’s high time anyway. And they do say that every dog has his day. But then again, it is the nature of life ~ old things inevitably gives way to the new. Besides, football is a team game and no superstar can be expected to carry the entire match and tournament on his feet. There is also the issue of enthusiastic fresh new blood vying against the ego of blasé aging superstars. Recall that Bangladesh had over-powered both the men and women’s Cricket teams recently. And there was Senegal triumphant against Poland. Nobody expects Senegal to go too far but then nobody expected Cameroon to reach the semi-finals in 1986 and produce a hero called Roger Milla. Today’s generation wasn’t born then but Cameroon and Roger Milla created special memories in the 1986 World Cup and endeared themselves to the world. It was also in 1986 when we saw Maradona’s “Hand of God”, so in a way the former football superstar breaking-down after Croatia humbled his team on Thursdays was a kind of poetic justice. So far, the take-away from the World Cup 2018 appears to be an underscoring of the law of gravity (I hope I’m quoting the right law?) ~ what goes up must come down. This also means that what is down needn’t stay down always but can go up ~ with the knowledge that it too will come down some day. There is so much football, or any sport, can teach about life ~ hence sports must be centre-staged in our educational system, indeed in our individual lives too. Another take-away from the World Cup 2018 is that there is hope for India too.