UNESCO boost for India’s cultural diplomacy: Yoga declared as world treasure

It’s a high moment for the global march of yoga and India’s cultural diplomacy. Building on the success of the UN’s designation of the International Yoga Day, the UNESCO has now declared yoga as “world treasure” and inscribed the ancient Indian practice in its Representative List as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

In a quiet diplomatic triumph for India, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the 24-member Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage unanimously declared Yoga as a “Human Treasure” on December 1. The panel overturned the decision of an Evaluation Body of technical experts, which sought to defer the case to the next session of the Committee in 2017.
The Indian Delegation to Addis Ababa was led by India’s Permanent Representative to UNESCO Ruchira Kamboj. “Never ever happened before! After #Yoga inscription, entire conference does Yogic breathing,” tweeted Ms Kamboj. India’s Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma hailed the UNESCO’s inscription of yoga as “a huge achievement for India.”

The decision is set to give an added boost to the global popularity of yoga as yoga activities can be now promoted with the prestigious UNESCO branding and logo.
The UNESCO’s inscription of yoga also provides more resonance to India’s role as a bridge-builder in promoting a global dialogue on intercultural relations and sustainable development.

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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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