Published On: Sun, Jun 21st, 2015

Indian Yoga goes International despite controversy

New Delhi: Yoga is intrinsic to India, and, despite one’s personal beliefs, it is something every Indian should be proud of. After all it is practised by many countries across the world and venerated by many doctors as a wonderful form of exercise.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi practices yoga on a regular basis.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi practices yoga on a regular basis.

Now sadly, the controversy has not only sought to make yoga into a ‘Hindu’ exercise but looks to divide the country into two groups – one aggressively out to practice yoga to “show” up the naysayers, and another who are determined not to practice.

This controversy is a blip on the radar though. In India, an estimated 35,000 officials, soldiers and students will take part in the main event at Rajpath in Delhi, while 650 out of the total 676 districts have been doing yoga classes in the lead-up to today.

Celebrations have organised in 192 out of the 193 UN member countries and what’s more, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has given his endorsement to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative.

In a statement the UNSG said: “By proclaiming 21 June as the International Yoga Day, the General Assembly has recognised the holistic benefits of this timeless practice and its inherent compatibility with the principles and values of the United Nations.”

It has to be said though the controversy is least likely to worry the PM. Every time PM Modi has looked to undertake something new, he has come under a well of criticism.

Reports made much of President Obama’s comments on religious tolerance – believing them to be directed at PM Modi –
and undermined a foreign policy success.

Then, during the PM Modi’s visit to Bangladesh, the India media chose to focus on his allegedly ‘sexist’ remarks to Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina.

Third, the cross-border operation in Myanmar caused the media to indulge in scare mongering by letting Pakistani officials speak of how it would retaliate if a similar operation was carried out in their country.

This same unwarranted criticism is there for International Yoga Day. But let the naysayers say what they like on TV cameras. The reality is India, and many parts of the world, support the PM Modi’s initiative.

Inputs with Mail Today

About the Author