NAT 190925 Fitness Challenge-1569402374143
People participate in doing Thug of war at DEWA stand at the Dubai Fitness Challenge opening weekend Carnival at Dubai Festival City, Dubai. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Archive Image Credit:

Dubai: An Indian HR manager in Dubai, Nishanth. A, works in two shifts and has been postponing his plans to exercise.

He knows several other Indian expats who follow similar routines and have ended up overweight with chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

“I know it is not right. I need to change my lifestyle,” the 39-year-old confesses.

Targeting those like him, the Indian Consulate in Dubai is encouraging Indian expats to be a part of a Fit India Movement, launched by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 29. The campaign aims to make Indians fit and healthy by including physical activities and sports in their daily lives.

With the latest statistics showing a high prevalence of heart attack deaths among Indian expats in the UAE, especially Indian workers, the mission is planning to spread the message of Fit India to the expat community in a big way.

Speaking to Gulf News, Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul urged Indian expats to take time out of their daily routine to do physical activities and stay fit.

“There are lots of sporting activities that happen in Dubai. Certainly, we need to take time out of our busy schedules for some sort of sporting activities or yoga.”

Even steps like taking the stairs instead of the lift can have health benefits, he observed.

He said the mission is looking at organising awareness programmes in labour accommodations, in the consulate and Indian schools.

“We are planning to take it [the drive] to the labour accommodations and encourage [inactive] workers to participate in Fit India by doing physical activities on a regular basis.”

The employees of the consulate will also be encouraged to participate in the movement, furthering the message to the community.

“This is very much in line with the Dubai Fitness Challenge which the Indian community has always been very enthusiastic about. We will discuss with the KHDA [Knowledge and Human Development Authority] if this message of Fit India can also be propagated in Indian schools during the Fitness Challenge,” said Vipul.

Dubai’s month-long annual fitness campaign Dubai Fitness Challenge takes place from October 18 to November 16 in its third edition this year.

Events plan

Prior to that, in view of the World Heart Day on September 29, the mission will organise an awareness event in association with Zulekha Hospital on September 26.

The Cardio Pulminory Resuscitation (CRP) awareness session “Save Hearts” is an initiative in line with the Indian government’s commitment to the Fit India campaign, the mission said.

“The consulate is looking at spreading more awareness on preventive measures against heart attack and lifesaving skills like CPR to save heart attack sufferers,” said the Consul General.

As reported by Gulf News earlier, the mission which covers Dubai and five other emirates, had recorded that 397 out of 698 (57 per cent) Indians who died between January to June this year succumbed to heart attacks.

In 2018, 838 of 1,426 (59 per cent) of deaths registered with the mission were due to heart attack.

As part of the celebrations to mark the 150th birth anniversary of India’s Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi on October 2, the consulate is planning to host a walkathon as well.

“We are discussing this with the local authorities for approvals,” Vipul said.

Anti-suicide campaign

Dubai: Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul said the health awareness programmes of the mission will focus around the theme of healthy mind and healthy body and would also tackle the issue of suicide in the Indian community.

“A mental health issue that is of concern to us is related to suicides,” Vipul told Gulf News.

“We do get suicide cases in the Indian community on a regular basis and we feel that there should be more awareness and established mechanisms for counselling in labour accommodations and in the community.”

The Indian government provides free counselling services to distressed Indian expats in the UAE through the Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra. The PBSK runs a 24-hour hotline service through told free number 800 INDIA (800 46342).

Though he did not provide the latest figures, the consul general confirmed that there has been an increase in the number of suicide cases reported to it compared to that in the last few years.

He said the mission has been in touch with the community associations and welfare groups to spot symptoms of distress and suicidal thoughts among their members to prevent untoward incidents.