New Delhi: On the International Day of Yoga on Monday, 21st of June, and during the weekend, all Indian embassies and consulates across the world will celebrate the mega-event. The Ministry of External Affairs has formally announced it.
The ‘Soft power’ game in the contemporary setting has emerged as an essential part of persuasive diplomacy.
It may be out of the box, but not something out of the blue.
Of course, this would mean–time to wake up the foreign policy community to the realization that in days to come (and perhaps it is already on), the traditional diplomatic game could change.
On the Asian front, it will give a message to Pakistan that civilizational and cultural prisms too could prove as productive tools in the changed world order.
What makes Yoga and ‘soft power’ so essential features of foreign policy governance?
The simple response is that the world is bound together not only by economic interests, but also by human ideals. And India can play a vital role in it.
“We can make contributions (of India’s soft power) only when we feel proud of our culture. But if we continue to curse ourselves, then how will the world look towards us,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in March 2016, when Sri Sri Ravi Shankar led the Art of Living, held a massive cultural bonanza at the sprawling Yamuna bank.
Yoga is linked to many aspects of life and consciousness.
For some, it is a means of spiritual awakening, and to some, it is a philosophy of life.
Yoga no doubt originated in India and in more ways than one linked to Hinduism and a Hindu way of life. It is therapy or cure for the disease.
It is also a method to be physically fit and healthy.
The “yoga” has a Sanskrit origin interpretation that suggests there could be a union of body with consciousness and consciousness with the soul.
Hence, none can ignore Yoga. As a result, the UN General Assembly resolution reaffirming the importance of yoga for individual physical, mental, and spiritual well-being was not without cause.
Certainly, Yoga’s relevance has gained significance in an era wherein humanity has been hit with the pandemic coronavirus, and most people have been confined within the four walls of their residences globally.
Yoga as a philosophy and fitness tool idea has taken root and has been lovingly embraced across military and authoritarian regimes and democracies alike.
Like the ‘Indian teachings and traditions’, Yoga is vast and penetrating.
There are several ways or paths–Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Gyan Yoga, and, of course, Hatha Yoga.
The Asanas, the world knows about Yoga these days are only a few postures of Hatha Yoga.
Yoga is much beyond this. The onus is on us – as people, other stakeholders, and the government in power – to tell the world about these.
It is high time Yoga is introduced as part of the curriculum.
Of course, Hatha yoga, focusing on asanas or physical postures, became popular in today’s world as a form of physical exercise.
As one ponders about yet another Yoga Day, a western maxim comes into mind — “Obedient sheep are not known for their creativity”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi not only defies definitions. He has in his mannerism and wisdom declined to play an obedient sheep.
This has shaken the foundation of the established and westernized Indian intelligentsia’s faith.
It is a matter of concern that a mixture of distorted principles of Marxism, Nehruvian secularism punctuated with
minority appeasement, and the western style of democracy pose a kind of challenge for guiding India’s future.
Thus, comes the relevance of soft power diplomacy and Yoga as a tool.
In today’s world, three youngsters have been released on bail.
They were held, and charged with conspiracy for the Delhi riots of 2020.
To top it, an emphasis on individual liberties and often unreasonably in India has been also playing its role as a negative catalyst in India’s transformation.
The big picture message is – the international game can no longer be about pushing a single agenda item.
The world unity will not solely depend on economic necessities. Even a global pandemic can force the international community to come together.
It does not either depend on the mighty of the military vis-à-vis the need to fight global terror. But, Yoga can play a stellar role.
The biggest truth about human history is that the storm is never permanent, and it would pass off eventually no matter how long it is.
Life is often like standing in the dusk. It is all about optimism, and it may not be erroneous to describe Yoga as a symbol of Optimism by itself.
In today’s world marred by an increasingly individualistic and self-seeking mannerism and sectarian vices and communalism, one thing that can bridge political, religious, and social divides and importantly heal the bleeding minds, is the unification of the body with mind and mind with soul.
Yoga ensures this.
Will Yoga turn into a tool for ensuring the advancement of a globally depressed economy?