Sports activities in J&K and Yoga

Rameshwar Singh Jamwal
Narendra Modi Government is investing much on encouraging youth of J&K to participate in sports activities in J&K in a big way. A new Sports Policy was framed for J&K in January, 2022 which, through a laudable objective, envisages and encompasses five levels of goal progression in a pyramidal form. Each goal has a set of clear objectives which the policy aims to achieve through a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound) strategy. 4500 Rural Youth Clubs are being established and big sports infrastructures in J&K are coming up in the entire UT of J&K, and this all is a welcome step. As per this policy,these initiatives are also effective in channelizing the energy of citizens in a constructive manner irrespective of their socio-economic group, age demographics and gender involvement in sports can have multi benefits for youth, it will not only boost their physiques but can also help in youth away from drugs and stone pelting, two issues which is troubling the mandarins of Home Ministry and PMO.
According to experts, exercise is the best medicine for myriad of our ailments and has been shown to prolong our life cycles, enhances memory and learning and even slows down the mental decline. Involvement in sports, a physical exercise, has been conceptualized as an antidote to the multi problems, the youth of J&K are exhibiting as it can also lead to letting off the steam against the system, just like a pressure cooker, where the youth can give vent to their feelings of unemployment, anger against the system or the conditions prevalent in the UT of J&K.
Lieutenant Governor, J&K, Manoj Sinha has shown keen interest in respect of giving the required impetus to involvement of more and more youth in sports activities and underlined the need of special target oriented approach to be adopted by Department of Youth Services and Sports. The decision of the UT Government in involving as many as 17.5 lakh boys and girls from across Jammu and Kashmir in different disciplines of sports was a welcome step This required creation of assets at huge costs raised mainly from out of the Prime Minister’s Development Package, and it was felt that the youth of J&K needed not be kept idle but utilized for not only routine sports activities but with an aim to excel in selected disciplines under the professional guidance so as to be in a position to take part in national events.
But there is flip side of the problem as well. Certain contact sports, where body contacts are visible and intense rivalry as well, like Hockey, football, boxing, kick boxing, karate, judo, fencing, and some more, can exacerbate the problem of violence and aggressive behaviours as it has been proved in numerous studies that certain sports activities also lead to problems of aggression in later stages of life as well. Contact sports frequently produce dangerous concussions that have been linked to triggering bouts of violence and a sub type of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) has been found in such players, who play contact sports. It is for this reason that many leading players have been found to have landed behind bars all across the globe, for offences from violent incidents to homicides.
Violence can be a result of a cauldron of biological and psychological factors, that include fetal programming, genetic predispositions, evolutionary heritage, trans-generational epigenetic inheritance and none of these factors have been counted as the factors that may have been responsible for the sharp increase observed in violent behaviour in J&K. All violent offenders in J&K, those killing the innocents or those pelting stones are not sports persons and there are numerous other reasons for the kind of turnaround in the personality of the people of UT of J&K for the last few decades, which all factors and reasons cannot be spelled out in this brief article, but which have been adequately explained in numerous paper presentations by the author. But everything has not been lost as yet, there are possibilities of mid course correction, provided we diagnose the problem and take proactive steps. This may include the introduction of concepts of Culture of Lawfulness, starting Yoga and reliance upon other Indian Philosophical concepts like Sankhya, which help in calming down the agitated minds. The World Health Organization has acknowledged the health benefits of Yoga when it outlined the key role Yoga plays in the fight against the growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), providing both preventive and curative benefits (Events WHO 2018). Some randomized controlled trials and studies on rehabilitation in prisons, (Muirhead 2015) and its positive effect on the obsessive-compulsive, paranoid ideation, and somatization symptom dimensions have been carried out ( Sfendla et al. 2018). Another randomized controlled study about the impact of Yoga in correctional settings had found that physical activity, including Yoga significantly reduced the inmates’ levels of psychological distress.
Yoga practice improved all primary symptom dimensions and its positive effect on obsessive compulsive, paranoid ideation and somatization symptom dimensions of the BSI stayed significant even when comparing with the control group (Kerekes et al. 2017). The Global Peace Initiative has recognized the leading, scientifically established meditation based “technologies of consciousness” that counterbalances individual and social tension, restore balanced brain functioning and clearly diminish crime and social conflict (Das 2018).
The world is relying upon and taking benefit of the intellectual contributions of Indian thought in fields like Yoga and here in J&K, we are still groping in the dark to find solutions to our self created governance mess, death and destruction cycle, which seems to be going on unabated, as our policy makers and implementing agencies go on treading the same old traditional pathways, which have landed us at the same situation of early 1990’s, and minorities are again thinking of leaving Kashmir.
(The author is a practising Advocate of J&K High Court, and President Criminologists Society)