Ideas and Action for a Better India
Morning walkers and joggers on Mumbai’s scenic Marine Drive witnessed a unique way of celebrating World Health Day (April 7) today by enjoying an interactive 90-minute demonstration of the noble art of karate on Marine Drive. It was organized by the Observer Research Foundation Mumbai. The theme for this year’s World Health Day is “Urbanization and Health”. The World Health Organization (WHO) has given a call for creating open and green spaces and using them for health-promoting activities.
Responding to this call, ORF’s young researcher Maulik Mavani, along with his colleague Omkar Phalke, demonstrated karate maneuvers to promote a healthy lifestyle to Mumbaiikars.
Maulik and Omkar attracted quite a crowd of onlookers from varied backgrounds – people who jog/walk/run on Marine Drive every morning, tourists, people commuting to work as well as leisurely passersby. Mr. Swadheen Kshatriya, Mumbai’s Municipal Commissioner noted the event during his regular morning jog on Marine Drive and appreciated this initiative stating the ‘importance of creating awareness among common people on the health enhancing potential of open and green spaces.’
Another physically active and regular on Marine Drive every morning, Mr. Ram Agarwal, quoted Swami Ramdev “a healthy nation is a strong nation”. ‘He highlighted the importance of both internal and external health encouraging people to invest in it’.
Maulik and Omkar demonstrated to the crowd two sets of performances, the Kata which is a choreographical set of movements against imaginary opponents, and the sparring (also known as Kumite in Japanese) which is a more interactive and competitive set between two opponents. Maulik stated that the objective for this morning’s event is two-fold: “to promote open spaces for physical activity to enhance physical and mental health; and to demonstrate martial arts as a sport as well as an art giving recognition to martial arts in India.”
Among the onlookers were a group of employees from the State Forestry department from Amravati, Buldana and other parts of Maharashtra who are in Mumbai for a demonstration at Azad Maidan on issues related to pay and employment. One of them stated “We are the people who protect forests; however the government does not protect us. We are happy to see that some organizations in the city understand the importance of forest and green spaces.” Many onlookers stopped by for a few moments to note the demonstration and to speak with Maulik who stated the components of karate being the ‘martial aspect, the sports aspect, the art involved in its performance and the physical and spiritual aspect.’ Another passerby on his way to work at Mukund Limited in Nariman Point, Mr. P.B. Rane aged 47 years was pleased to see the health promoting activism of the young karate professionals. He narrated his own story stating how regular walks combined with meditation does wonders for curing grave illnesses. “I live at Vasai and each day I leave home at 6:20am to take the 6:47am train to Churchgate getting down at Grant Road at 8:10am after which I take a walk from Grant Road station to Nariman Point along Marine Drive. I do ten minutes of dhyan (meditation) followed by pranayam as taught by Baba Ramdev. This regular habit has completely cured me of hiatus hernia for which I had unsuccessfully undergone a surgery. My 71 year old mother who is suffering from asthma also followed my example of regular walks and pranayam and has been cured of her ailment. I keep telling my colleagues, friends and just about everyone I meet that they should take care of this precious vehicle called the human body which is a gift from God. I am happy to see that your organization is spreading this message on World Health Day.”
Maulik and Omkar attracted quite a crowd this morning and many people interacted with ORF staff talking about the regular physical activities incorporated into their lifestyles that have become part of their daily routine. This event is a precursor to the roundtable that will be held at the ORF office the same afternoon titled “Open and Green Spaces for a Healthier Mumbai” to commemorate World Health Day.
Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of ORF Mumbai, stated that the Foundation, along with other likeminded organizations, would continue to champion the cause of open and green spaces. “This is not an elitist issue. Slumdwellers and middle-class people need access to open and green spaces even more than the rich for healthier living and building stronger community bonds.”