In the last nine years, the Modi government has made an unparalleled contribution in promoting yoga, not just as a physical pursuit but as a holistic lifestyle choice that transcends borders and cultures. The emphasis placed on yoga at both the national and international levels underscores its importance in fostering physical well-being, preserving cultural heritage, and enhancing India's soft power on the global stage.
Yoga, a transformative practice, offers a unique synthesis of physical empowerment, mental balance, and emotional stability essential for navigating the challenges of modern life. In response to PM Modi’s passionate call, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared June 21st as the International Day of Yoga in 2014.
In its resolution, the UNGA recognised yoga as a holistic approach to health and well-being, and the benefits it carried for the global population. Marking a significant diplomatic achievement for India, yoga has become a global public movement ever since, punctuated by diverse activities and programs.
The global celebration of International Day of Yoga 2023 was led by PM Modi at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA. This year, India organised events including Ocean Ring of Yoga and Yoga from Arctic to Antarctica across the world cementing the movement that has brought yoga to the forefront of global consciousness.
Recognising the intrinsic link between yoga and India's rich cultural heritage, the Modi government has utilised yoga as a tool for cultural diplomacy. Yoga has become a symbol of India's ancient wisdom and spiritual heritage, fostering goodwill and understanding across borders. This has been affirmed as this ancient Indian philosophical tradition, rooted in the profound connection between the mind and body, has earned a distinguished place on UNESCO's prestigious list of intangible world heritage.
The global recognition of yoga has also given a boost to India's tourism sector. The country has emerged as a sought-after destination for yoga retreats and wellness tourism. The influx of international yoga enthusiasts has not only contributed to the economy but has also fostered cross-cultural interactions, promoting a better understanding of India's diverse heritage.
Nationally, the mainstreaming of yoga into our social psyche has gathered speed and momentum after PM Modi’s government assumed charge in 2014.With a new approach, a dedicated Ministry of AYUSH was created the same year, streamlining the role and relevance of yoga in public health. The government has taken this further with efforts like yoga certification to ensure excellence in yoga training and skill development, development of evidence-based research, massive outreach programs through public and private collaborations, and Ayush Health and Wellness centers. In addition, Yoga has been introduced in the school curriculum via the New Education Policy 2020. It has also been recognised as a sports discipline even as many universities have introduced courses on Yoga. Furthermore, the AYUSH Ministry has launched the Namaste Yoga App as a one-stop solution for people to access all kinds of information around yoga at their fingertips.
This year, the government organised multiple initiatives in the run up to the International Yoga Day 2023. While ‘Har Aangan Yoga’ led to observation of yoga at the village level, Y-break @workspaces encouraged workers to get de-stressed and refreshed at work via yoga. Other efforts like Yoga Bharatmala, Yoga Sagarmala, and Yoga My Pride, a photography contest, were also organised. PM Modi’s government has encouraged a ‘whole of government approach’ as all key ministries, national and international organisations, Indian missions and embassies took an active part in these activities.
In the past nine years, the government has also invested in programs that educate citizens about the benefits of yoga in managing stress, improving mental health, and enhancing overall physical fitness. Millions of Indians, irrespective of age, gender, or socio-economic background, come together to participate in yoga-related activities, creating a sense of unity and belonging. This nationwide celebration of yoga not only promotes a healthier and mindful society but also reinforces the cultural fabric that binds the diverse population of India.
With its rich heritage and timeless principles, yoga serves as a beacon of wisdom, fostering a harmonious balance between the individual and the universe, making it a worthy addition to the global cultural heritage.
As millions around the world unite on International Day of Yoga, India today has emerged as a leader in global health and wellness industry. This is also in line with Indian ethos of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ and G20’s focus on sustainable and inclusive growth under India.
Yoga as a mantra is a significant one for every Indian, in particular, in the ongoing Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal. PM Modi asserts, “Through Yoga, we know the selfless action, we decide the journey from Karma to Karmayoga.” It is yoga, according to him, that has the potential to foster physical strength and mental expansion needed to create a developed India by 2047.