Update No. 4: Police has arrested Pushp Sharma, the author of the Milli Gazette report, for forgery.
Update No. 3: Milli Gazette has termed the ministry's denial misleading. "The ministry is talking about a different RTI filed by the same journalist at about same time, and concerns foreign yoga experts invited to attend the Yoga conference last year while our story talks about Yoga teachers sent out from India." The publication has released a tranche of related correspondence online, including the contested Annexure I.
Update No. 2: The ministry of Ayush has denied that it had issued the RTI response that Milli Gazette has published. Milli Gazette continues to stand by its story, saying the reporting involved multiple RTI applications and that it will be publishing more information online shortly.
Update: Since this story broke online Friday night, AYUSH minister Shripad Naik has responded saying the document is "bogus and fabricated". But the ministry is yet to release the genuine response, which it claims it has. Milli Gazette is standing by the document it published online and says it will release more evidence online this evening. These details and more can be read here.
NEW DELHI -- In a startling response to a Right to Information query, the AYUSH Ministry has said that it did not hire Muslims for short-term positions as trainers for World Yoga Day as it was against government policy.
AYUSH stands for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy, and is the Ministry that promotes these branches of traditional medicine.
The AYUSH Ministry, under Sripad Naik, organized the first World Yoga Day on October 15, last year.
The RTI query filed by journalist Pushp Sharma sought to know how many Muslim candidates had applied and had been hired for short-term assignments during World Yoga Day.
The two questions were as follows:
* Please provide the details, how many (total numbers) Muslim candidates had applied for short-term abroad assignment (Trainer/Teacher) during World Yoga Day 2015?
* How many Muslims applied for the post of Yoga Trainer / Teacher so far?
In its response, the Ministry said that none of the 3,841 Muslim candidates, who had applied for the position of Yoga trainer or teacher till October 2015, were hired by the AYUSH Ministry, Milli Gazette reported.
It also revealed that none of the 711 Muslim yoga trainers, who had applied for the foreign assignment during the World Yoga Day, were hired.
While no Muslims were even called for an interview, the Ministry selected 26 Hindu trainers.
"As per government policy – No Muslim candidate was invited, selected or sent abroad," the RTI response said.
HuffPost India has not independently verified the authenticity of the document posted online by Milli Gazette.
The United Nations General Assembly declared in 2014 that June 21 will be celebrated as International Yoga Day partly due to India's efforts to popularize yoga around the world.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken the lead in championing the adoption of yoga. He is himself a yoga practitioner.
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Most researchers believe that two factors are responsible for the Spoon-billed Sandpipers population decline: the elimination of migratory stopover habitat, particularly in the Yellow Sea region, and subsistence hunting on the wintering grounds. (Source: http://www.birds.cornell.edu)
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This bustard has a very small, declining population; a trend that has recently become extremely rapid and is predicted to continue in the near future, largely as a result of the widespread and on-going conversion of its grassland habitat for agriculture. It therefore qualifies as Critically Endangered. (Source: http://www.birdlife.org)
Two years after the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) talked about launching a special conservation programme for the Great Indian Bustard, a critically endangered species, experts are warning that the bird is in danger of becoming extinct. Lack of funds means the central government has made no progress at all on what many say is a critical matter. (Source: LiveMint March 12, 2015 news report)
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