In Thailand, the Indian embassy will host a yoga event on June 21 which, according to India’s ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla, will be attended by 5,000 people.
Narendra Modi government’s yoga focus may not have gone down well with all here but that certainly is not a deterrent for India’s missions abroad which are working overtime to commemorate the first UN International Day of Yoga (IDY) on June 21.
Cutting across continents, India’s missions are busy chalking out plans to hold free yoga classes and mega shows on the day to explain to the world the health benefits of what remains probably India’s most famous export to the world. The UNGA declared June 21 as the International Day of Yoga after Modi himself mooted the idea last year in his speech at the general assembly.
The Indian missions in all P5 countries will celebrate the yoga day by organizing free yoga classes and screening movies on the same. Even distant Argentina is said to be buzzing with anticipation over the Indian embassy’s yoga outreach.
India’s ambassador to Argentina Amarendra Khatua said the Indian embassy in Buenos Aires is expecting participation of a million Argentines in programmes being organized all over the country. “These will take place in each province, each municipality of the country. We will also have 7-day yoga classes ending June 21 in all universities and a mega show at Dorego in Buenos Aires with participation of most of 120 yoga bodies active here,” said Khatua.
Similarly in Thailand, the Indian embassy will host a yoga event on June 21 which, according to India’s ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla, will be attended by 5,000 people.
“The event will be held at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University located in the heart of Bangkok. The deputy prime minister of Thailand and tourism minister along with other dignitaries have already confirmed attendance,” said Shringla.
“All participants will be given a T-shirt with an IDY logo, a yoga mat, energy drinks and refreshments free of cost. Celebrities from India and yoga experts will be there to lead the event with good participation of local schools, colleges and institutes. Indian community associations are actively promoting the event,” added Shringla.
The Indian mission in Israel too will mark the day with an event on the beach in Tel Aviv-Yafo which is expected to be attended by over 20,000 people.
At the heart of this initiative is of course Modi’s personal fondness for yoga and what the government sees as his success in using it as an instrument of global diplomacy. Modi again spoke passionately about yoga at the heads of missions conference and that’s where it seems to have dawned on Indian envoys that they needed to stress the art form as a means to a more cogent international outreach.
Modi also looks at IDY as one of his more significant achievements in international diplomacy as no sooner had he proposed the idea, 50 countries – including the US and China – signed up for co-sponsorship of a draft resolution for declaring June 21 as international Yoga day.
Yoga has invariably found mention in Modi’s exchanges with important world leaders including with President Obama. He explained the benefits of Yoga to Obama over their White House dinner, which saw Modi sipping only on warm water as he was fasting, as the president expressed admiration for Modi’s “energy and vigour”. Modi also gifted a book on Yoga to his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott.
Calling for a change in lifestyle and for creating consciousness, Modi in his UNGCA speech said Yoga could even help deal with climate change.
“Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; 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.