Visiting 22 puja sites in four hours can be a tall order for even the most ardent and enthusiastic pandal hopper. Now imagine someone doing the same at the age of 65. We are talking about Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways. Speaking at NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India's 12-hour telethon - 'Lakshya - Sampoorn Swasthya Ka' - the Union minister emphasised the importance of individual health. He shared details of his personal health journey and also spoke about the importance of waste management.
"From 8pm to 12 midnight, I visited 22 puja sites yesterday. Earlier, I used to feel exhausted, but last night, there was no fatigue or exhaustion," Mr Gadkari said, adding that his daily regimen of Pranayam and exercise have made that possible.
Detailing his fitness journey, he added: "I contracted Covid twice. During that phase, my doctor instructed me to do some exercise and since then, I've been doing one hour of Pranayam, followed by exercise, every day. This has made a huge difference. It helped strengthen my immunity and increase energy level."
He said exercise has brought about a positive change in his life and he advised others to do some exercise daily. "My doctor had suggested certain exercises. Once I started doing them, others who knew me also started following and it helped them as well. Videos of these exercises are easily available on YouTube," he said.
"Small changes in life can sometimes go a long way in making a big difference. Your first priority should always be your health. Your second priority should be managing your wealth with honesty. That's my advise to my children and all my friends," the minister added.
Responding to a query from actor Amitabh Bachhan, brand ambassador for the NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India initiative, on how he managed to reduce his weight, Mr Gadkari highlighted the importance of organic farming and consumption of organic vegetables. "From 135 kg, I have now reduced to 90 kg," he said, adding that earlier, even a 40-minute speech would make him feel exhausted and he would sweat profusely. "Now, even if I speak for three hours non-stop, I don't feel any exhaustion," he said.
One area where he said he still needed to get some work done was to ensure that he finished his dinner by seven or eight. "I keep stepping out on work quite frequently at night and that doesn't allow me to have my dinner on time. So, that's one area where I still need some catching-up to do," Mr Gadkari said. However, he said that he always made sure to have his breakfast and lunch on time and that in turn helped rule out the need for any medication whatsoever.
When NDTV's Prannoy Roy asked him about the importance of ensuring zero-waste, something that Mr Gadkari's ministry has been doing with a lot of success over the last many years, the Union minister highlighted the importance of green hydrogen, solar power and segregation of waste. He said: "A vehicle can run over 450 kilometres on just one kilo of green hydrogen. Given that petrol, diesel and other fossil fuel contribute 40 per cent to overall air pollution in the country, it is absolutely important to find greener and cleaner energy alternatives."
He told Mr Roy: "Through you, I would like to convey this message to all concerned to find more ways of converting waste to wealth."
He invited both Mr Roy and Mr Bachhan to come and have a look at a hydrogen-driven car that he has in Delhi.
When Sanket Upadhyay of NDTV asked the minister about the need to make the six-airbag rule mandatory in passenger vehicles in India, Mr Gadkari, while commending NDTV's initiative to raise health awareness, said there should be a similar drive to promote road safety as well. "While India occupies the highest position in the world in terms of road deaths, sixty per cent of those killed are in the age-group of 18-34. This indeed is extremely painful and unfortunate," Mr Gadkari said.