Ansari, explaining how diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart related medical problems were causing a loss of millions of rupees in India and in the world, said there was a stark relationship between poverty and ill health.‘Poverty creates ill health because it forces people to live in environment that make them sick, without decent shelter, clean water or adequate sanitation,’ he said.Ansari said the importance of good health and sanitation was well understood by the leaders of our freedom movement. Mahatma Gandhi had observed ‘Health is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver’. Gandhi on many occasions had written and spoken about the economic impact of insanitation, the Vice President recalled. All systems of faith or belief have within them the practice of meditation. The Indian experience is a particularly good instance of this given the rich interaction that took place over centuries in the areas of belief, consciousness and practice, he said.
‘Thus, we find Yoga and meditation in Jain and Buddhist practices; similarly, great importance is attached to meditation in Christianity, Islam and Sikhism.’The convergence or parallelisms are striking even if rituals or modalities of enunciation may vary. They all depend on sounds or expressions that evoke appropriate responses from the practitioner based on his or her spiritual background,’ Ansari said.Last year, on the occasion of the first International Yoga Day, Ansari was criticised by BJP general secretary Ram Madhav for his absence at the Yoga Day celebrations on Rajpath. Later, Madhav had apologised saying that he didn’t know that the Vice President was unwell, but an official statement from Ansari’s office clarified that ‘Vice President was not sick. He was never invited for the yoga programme’. AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik, whose ministry organised the event, had also clarified that when Prime Minister is the chief guest at a programme, the President or Vice President cannot be invited as per protocol as the two are above the prime minister in order of precedence.