Ex-champ Tejasvi Kumar to burn certificates to expose Modi govt's 'dishonesty' towards yoga

New Delhi: At a time when India is leading the world in the field of physical, mental and spiritual practice of yoga, a physically challenged young boy, who has represented the country twice at international level in the ancient discipline’s world championship and won gold and silver medals, is struggling to survive because of abject poverty.


Tejasvi Kumar Sharma. Image: Tarique Anwar/Firstpost

The 20-year-old yoga guru in making has once again been selected for prestigious Olympism4Humanity (O4H) Praxis Summer Program to be organised by International Olympic Academy and the Olympism for Humanity Alliance at Marathon and Ancient Olympia in Greece from June 25 to July 5. Unable to bear the travelling expenses and required registration fees of 1,150 euro (Rs 1.35 lakh), he is running from pillar to post to find a sponsor. But so far, he has not got any helping hand despite the fact that he has earlier been visited by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, East Delhi MP Maheish Girri, South Delhi MP Ramesh Bidhuri and former President APJ Abdul Kalam.

Yes, Tejasvi Kumar Sharma who has finally decided to burn all citations and medals he has got so far for his new experiments and innovations in yoga on the occasion of first International Yoga Day to be held on June 21 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will practice breathing control and physical poses at a public event to be participated by 45,000 people at Rajpath.

“Whomever I approached for help, I was disappointed. Forget about a word of encouragement, many of them humiliated me. They treated me as If I am a beggar. I was humiliated and hurled with statements like kahan kahan se chale aate hain (don’t know from where they come). This treatment is being meted in a country whose Prime Minister’s proposal for a yoga day was recognised by the United Nations. Dejected, ignored and disappointed, I reached the conclusion that India does not need such talent and therefore, there is no need to pursue it further,” he told Firstpost adding that he will burn all his certificates, medals and letters of appreciation to register my protest against the government’s “dishonesty” towards yoga.

In his first speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September last year, PM Modi had called for a recognised yoga day. Around 177 nations across the world will celebrate one of India’s most successful exports.

But he certainly hasn't made a believer out of Tejasvi.

Born in a poverty stricken family of a priest – Mithilesh Kumar Sharma – at Dehri village in Arrah town of Bihar’s Bhojpur district, Tejasvi (when he was 9) was diagnosed with polio (poliomyelitis) with both legs afflicted.

“Your son has suffered polio. His both legs are affected but the contagious disease has severely affected his right leg. It has lost sensation and may never work properly,” Mithilesh recalls a doctor as saying.

Tejasvi’s uncle took him to Delhi for better treatment. He underwent a surgery there and doctors suggested yoga. Unable to see his son walking with crutches or limps, Mithilesh taught Tejasvi about yoga moves. He used to practice along with his father everyday. Slowly, the condition improved. “I used to practice 80-100 asanas per day under the guidance of my father. When I grew up, I started practicing on my own and experimented new moves,” said Tejasvi, who is pursuing BA (honours) in German from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

His hard work, determination and strong will power bore fruit. He started competing in 2009 and won at least eight competitions at state level within a year, moving towards national championship. He was shortlisted for All India Yoga Championship and Artistic Yoga Sports Championship organised by Indian Yoga Federation. However, he failed to perform well in his first national demonstration.

He got tremendous support from a Noida-based NGO – Navratan Foundations – which promotes talent and works for skill development. He met choreographer Rajnikant Thakur there who helped him perform well.

His efforts finally paid him off. He became first the first world yoga champion from India and that too in normal category. He moved on and took part in 2nd International Yoga Championship organised by Hong Kong Yoga Foundation and Dayal Leisure and Cultural Association in 2012.

“I won gold medal for the country in yoga in physically disabled category,” Tejasvi said. “Despite facing acute financial crisis, my family arranged the necessary sum. I met big leaders of different political parties but all of them gave me blessings instead of monetary help. No NGO or the government came forward to sponsor my trip. Since I was, representing my country there and won a gold medal, the government should have done something to encourage me.”

And while a yoga day is a good gesture, some help for the yoga practitioners would be much appreciated. Hope Modi is listening...

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Updated Date: May 29, 2015 16:18:54 IST

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