International Yoga Day
Sonali Singh, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Manipal University Jaipur, reflects on the annual International Day of Yoga and India's soft power.
‘Incredible India’ is easier said than done. It’s time the Modi government took concrete steps to harness and exploit our rich heritage...In the new millennium, various governments and leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi have talked about India’s soft power. Yet, we have never really harnessed this strength.
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi stayed away this year, India followed a strategy of quiet diplomacy while projecting its soft power at the world body, even as it suffered a setback in the fight against terrorism. India had a low profile on the diplomatic front that masked a lot of behind-the-scenes diplomacy. After having made a trip to Washington to address the Congress, Modi did not attend the annual general debate of the General Assembly.
The United Nations’ adoption in 2014 of an International Yoga Day was remarkable for many reasons. [...] No International Day resolution has been co-sponsored by so many countries or has been passed in such a short timeframe. It was definitely a remarkable achievement for Indian diplomacy. It has also been hailed as a demonstration of India’s soft power.
Yoga has offered the Indian state unprecedented opportunities for global, media-savvy political performance. In recent years, the nation has made international headlines by creating a national ministry for yoga. It has promoted yoga tourism; staged mass yoga practices and Indian officials have even proposed yoga as a national solution to an astonishing range of social problems, from reducing rape to curing cancer.
“You are the symbols of India’s soft power. You are the unofficial ambassadors, the cultural ambassadors,” Indian President Pranab Mukherjee told expatriates in Windhoek, Namibia, last week. The Southwest African nation has barely 300 expatriates, a miniscule part of a 30 million diaspora spread globally that is being rallied as never before. Mukherjee chose this motley group of businessmen and professionals to propose “a new relationship” with the entire continent of Africa.
Millions of people across the world are marking the second International Yoga Day on June 21. The brainchild of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is an enthusiastic yoga practitioner himself, the UN-sponsored day has been endorsed by an unprecedented 175 countries, including Qatar.
PD News takes a look at what China, the UK, India and the U.S. have been up to this week.