The Great Indian Yoga Show: Projecting soft power across continents

It promises to be a spectacular show, inviting the world to revitalize its sinews through the ancient Indian practice of yoking body, mind and spirit. With barely days to go for the first International Yoga Day, the Indian government is leaving no stone unturned to showcase the country’s greatest soft power export to a global audience, cutting across hemispheres and continents.

The UN will commemorate the inaugural edition of International Yoga Day on June 21, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Sam Kutesa in attendance. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will represent India at the event, commemorating the first International Day of Yoga at the UN Headquarters in New York. It will be broadcast live at Times Square, the pulsating heart of Manhattan, to a global audience.

Showcasing Soft Power

In a curtain-raiser media event giving a peek into an array of events lined up to celebrate this high moment in yoga’s global journey, Sushma Swaraj eloquently described yoga as “the soft power of India” which can usher in lasting peace for a violence-wracked world.

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Modi’s Speed Diplomacy: UN declares June 21 as International Yoga Day

India’s soft power got a defining global endorsement, with the United Nations declaring June 21 as the World Yoga Day. It’s also a diplomatic triumph for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had formally proposed declaring an International Day for Yoga during his maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly on September 27.
The 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly December 11 adopted by acclamation draft Resolution, A/69/L.17 with a record number of 175 countries co-sponsoring it.

It’s literally fast-track diplomacy for India as the UN declared the Yoga Day barely 80 days after the pioneering idea was mooted by the yoga-practising 64-year-old Indian leader. The declaration has triggered jubilation in India and all over the world, where the ancient discipline of yoga – a union of mind and body – has found a growing number of ardent practitioners and devotees.
In his address at the UNGA on September 27, Mr Modi had made a robust pitch for yoga as the world’s answer to sustainable development and healthy lifestyle that harmonises the mind and the spirit. “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. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day,” Mr Modi had argued.

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