Intro: Yoga is a 21st century solution to the globe provided by India. Despite having the origins related to Hinduism and Buddhism. Yoga in its very nature and essence can be followed without any connection to the religious doctrines of either.
|International Yoga Day|
In Prime Minister Narendra Modi's maiden address at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he said that for India “respect for nature is an integral part of spiritualism. We treat nature's bounties as sacred”.
“Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition, and embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature,” he said while floating the idea of International Yoga Day to the 193-member world body.
According to information on the UN website, two-hour long informal consultations on the draft resolution entitled 'International Day of Yoga' has been convened by the Permanent Mission of India on October 14.
Pressing ahead with the campaign for an International Day of Yoga, India projected yoga and its reflection of “Indian ethos of harmony with nature” as factors that can help the environment in an age of globalisation and rapid development.
“The holistic approach to life that yoga fosters could contribute not only to an improvement in quality of life but also greater harmony between people and between man and nature,” said Amit Narang, counsellor at the Indian mission in his statement
Narang asserted that that the nation's wisdom of millennia emphasised a “culture of frugality, of doing more with less, of taking only as much as required from nature and of no wastage. It was particularly relevant for today’s world struggling to manage global commons and achieve sustainable development,” he said during a discussion on globalisation and interdependence at a meeting of a UNGA committee.
The first Hindu-American Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard had also promised Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lead an effort towards a Congressional resolution in support of International Yoga Day. Gabbard, in a statement, said she made a commitment to Modi to take the lead in Congress to pass a resolution in support of the prime minister’s appeal to the UN to designate an International Yoga Day. According to a media statement, both agreed that, “Yoga is widely misunderstood as a system of physical exercise rather than a lifestyle consciousness and world view that can help improve health, provide insight for addressing environmental challenges, facilitate world peace, and much more”.
But in Pakistan, though being quite popular it is still seen as a conspiracy against Islam. For over 2 months, The Art of Living faculty members and volunteers in Pakistan had been receiving threat letters and calls from the Taliban. The calls and letters accuse the volunteers of ‘conspiring against Islam’. According to a volunteer from Pakistan, “Many youth have given up the path of violence after undergoing the Art of Living programs and this has been perceived to be a threat by the Taliban.”
The authorities in Pakistan have been informed about the threats received. The calls first began after March 8 2014 when 15 gunmen had vandalized the Art of Living center and set it on fire in Bani-Gala on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan.Many say that a programme was aired by a news channel which alleged that the centre was “compromising national security” and challenging Pakistani people's values and lifestyle led to destruction of the yoga centre.
Apparently, Art of Living has 10,000 members in Pakistan. The Art of Living has been extremely sensitive of religious sentiments in Pakistan and other Islamic countries while taking these programs. The majority of Muslims have no objection to this. Some clerics also have done the programs and appreciated these peace-building measures. At another side of the coin is Aisha Chapra, who isn’t just any yoga facilitator in Pakistan. What makes her different from the umpteen instructors swarming the city, is that she is teaching yoga to women who are languishing away behind bars in Jails across the city of Karachi. She is willing to experience the Women’s Prison with the incarcerated women, guided by the intent to provide them the same semblance of peace that she herself has found through yoga
This calls for Yoga not to be seen as a religion, but as a science — science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul that allows India only to be a providing platform for unity and peace amongst the varied races of humanity.
Meanwhile , As many as 50 countries – US, Canada and China most recently — have signed up for co-sponsorship of a draft resolution which India's UN mission is preparing for declaring June 21 as international day. The resolution will be submitted soon to the UN secretariat with the government looking to aggressively push for its adoption before the end of this year. The list of co-sponsors includes Asian heavyweights China, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea and also South Africa and Nigeria in Africa. Neighbors such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka were amongst the earliest to sign on. Latin American giants Brazil and Argentina too have committed support
With USA and Canada joining recently, the EU members are expected to also join as co-sponsors soon in what, according to official sources, is turning out to be a broad-based coalition of support that has countries as different as Iran and Cuba on board.
The resolution, couched in terms of building better and healthier lifestyle patterns, is expected to be submitted to the UN Secretariat soon and is directly being monitored by external affairs minister Smt. SushmaSwaraj .
“The goal is to step up outreach efforts to other countries later in November so as to garner overwhelming support for adoption before the end of the year, signaling that delivery is an important ingredient of PM's foreign policy announcements,” said a source to a national daily
Perhaps India's most significant export to the world, the ancient art of Yoga is fast taking centre-stage in Modi's soft power push.If the resolution finds a way to adoption
Reportedly, The Modi Government is leaving no stone unturned to provide the domestic pitch to the practice of Yoga as well. The government seems to be getting strict about healthcare of its Babus too. While the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had issued a circular earlier this year urging the Central Government employees to attend a week-long yoga workshop in New Delhi, it seems now that the police personnel may be the first to get to practice yoga and pranayam on a regular basis at work.
The UGC was also quick in taking cognizance of the PM Narendra Modi's aggressive promotion of yoga, which seems to have made impact on the nation’s higher education decision making body. Just a few days after he urged world leaders at the United Nations to adopt an International Yoga Day, has asked all recognized universities to start offering yoga and meditation lessons on campus to promote “holistic well-being” of students
PM Modi is himself an ardent practitioner of Yoga and remains concerned about his fitness. He wakes up by 5am every day and begins his day with an hour-long yoga session. He then catches up with the news before settling down for a session of meditation to prepare for a long day that often ends only at midnight.
—Divyansh Dev (With inputs from Monica Sangwan)