Yoga isn’t just lifestyle choice, it is soft power - Hindustan Times
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Yoga isn’t just lifestyle choice, it is soft power

ByHT Editorial
Jun 20, 2024 09:39 PM IST

The global acceptance of Yoga marks its soft power influence, useful as India seeks to discover a greater and more influential role in global affairs.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is participating in the International Yoga celebrations in Srinagar today. Last year, he led a public session at the United Nations headquarters in New York with participants from 180 countries joining him. Since he mooted the idea of a day to mark this ancient Indian practice that has in its core the idea of a holistic wellness of the body and mind at his address to the UN General Assembly in 2014, Yoga has found a new wind as a collective global action, and as a lifestyle choice: This year, the motto is Yoga for Self and Society.

New York: People participate in a mass yoga session at Times Square organised by the Consulate General of India, in New York, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (PTI Photo) (PTI06_20_2024_000345B) (PTI) PREMIUM
New York: People participate in a mass yoga session at Times Square organised by the Consulate General of India, in New York, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (PTI Photo) (PTI06_20_2024_000345B) (PTI)

Since 2015, when the UN proclaimed June 21 as International Yoga Day, the already-popular practice has found more followers in multiple countries. As for Delhi, the global acceptance of Yoga marks its soft power influence, useful as the country seeks to discover a greater and more influential role in global affairs. In fact, soft power was also New Delhi’s calling card in international affairs when the newly independent nation, emerging from colonial exploitation, sought to engage with the world on its terms. Classical music, dance, textiles, craft that barely survived the onslaught of colonialism, and popular cinema, the outcome of a Western cultural idiom engaging with the indigenous theatre traditions, won India friends in its extended neighbourhood and beyond.

The US had mastered this art and American soft power played an influential role in Washington winning the Cold War. Today, Korean soft power through K-Pop and K-Drama has created a new global paradigm for the country. The championing of Yoga, in a similar vein, underlines the value of soft power in embellishing India’s position as a “friend of the world”.

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