London: Keen to take forward Team GB's success beyond the London Olympics, British Prime Minister David Cameron today said schools should spend more time on competitive sports than on 'Indian dance', a remark that raised several eyebrows.
Hopping across television studios this morning, Cameron defended his decision to scrap the target of two hours for sports in schools, and regretted that instead of sports, schools were spending the time doing things like 'Indian dance'.
"I see it with my own children... because you know, the two hours that is laid down is often met through sort of Indian dancing classes. Now, I've got nothing against Indian dancing classes but that's not really sport," said Cameron.
"The trouble we have had with targets up to now, which was two hours a week, is that a lot of schools were meeting that by doing things like Indian dance or whatever, that you and I probably wouldn't think of as sport, so there's a danger of thinking all you need is money and a target. If that was the solution we would have solved the problem by now," he added.
Indian dance, better known in London as 'Bollywood dancing' is growing in Britain, with several workshops and dance classes teaching the steps accompanied by popular Hindi film songs.
Besides its cultural value, 'Bollywood dance' is also seen as an exercise, but contrary to Cameron's remark, there have been few instances of it being taught or performed regularly in schools.
Cameron's remarks prompted a wave of online comments by readers who ridiculed the prime minister.
Many believed that 'Indian dance' was a form of exercise, while some joked how 'Team Bollywood GB' would do if 'Bollywood dance' were included in Olympics.
Reader Tony wrote to The Daily Telegraph: "There is nothing wrong with a bit of bhangra dancing... The objective is to get that body moving and use those muscles to keep fit. Whilst it's not exactly sport, not everyone is naturally good at sport. Indian music isn't to everyone's taste, but it is quite addictive after a while and far less boring than most modern electronic dance music - and it definitely puts a smile on your face. An hour's Indian Dancing is probably better for you than an hour in the gym, or an hour running."
A reader wrote to The Guardian: "Back in the seventies we did county dancing as part of PE in primary school. Indian dancing is quite physical and if it engages some pupils who think running around after a ball is not enjoyable then why not? Cameron's comment just seems racist to me."
Another wrote in: "Cameron is living on a different planet. Any kind of exercise is better than the blobbism we now have. Not everyone wants to do cross-country running, and if girls, or men, want to do Indian dancing.... great. Those Indian dancers look super to me."
"Indian dance or any form of dance would seem to me to be an excellent way of engaging students in physical activity," another reader wrote.
Story first published:
August 10, 2012 21:07 IST