The integration of yoga into our daily lives and into global consciousness
- Over the last seven years, yoga has seen a revival in our national consciousness. At the same time, as a gift to the world, yoga has been embedded deeply into the global consciousness.
Since forming the government in May 2014, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi has led from the front by focusing on traditional knowledge systems. In November 2014, the government set up a separate ministry of Ayush to ensure the seven traditional systems of health care, including ayurveda and yoga, are leveraged adequately in our public health care systems.
By December 2014, the United Nations passed a resolution declaring June 21 as International Day of Yoga with 177 nations co-sponsoring the resolution. In June 2016, while addressing a joint session of the United States Congress, PM Modi stated that India did not claim intellectual property rights on Yoga, highlighting that traditional Indian knowledge systems have always been open and accessible to all. In several public forums since then, the PM has categorically said yoga is India’s gift to the world for health and peace.
Yoga’s inherent foundations flow from Hinduism, with Lord Shiva being recognised as its first practitioner. However, like the universal values that Hinduism espouses, Yoga too has a universal appeal and a global outlook. This is also evident from how the practice found global acceptance. From Vladivostok to Vancouver, Cape Town to Copenhagen, people have adopted yoga for its therapeutic potential. This shows the inherent value that yoga brings to those adopting and practising it. From addressing specific ailments to preventive benefits and overall mental well-being, yoga is now acknowledged as an integral practice that helps individuals cope with the pressures and grind of the 21st century.
The journey towards the global acceptance of yoga has been a recent phenomenon and PM Modi’s leadership has been instrumental. Two responses in the question hour in the Lok Sabha during the government before 2014 reflect the indifference and contempt that the government in those days had towards yoga and traditional Indian knowledge systems. In August 2007, in response to a question in the Lok Sabha on whether the Government of India had taken up the issue of the United States Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO) sanctioning yoga related copyrights and trademarks with the US government, the ministry of commerce acknowledged that while several patents were granted by the US, it had no intention of taking up the matter with the US government.
Similarly, in February 2014, a few months before Modi became PM, the ministry of health and family welfare acknowledged that the task-force on Yoga constituted in March 2009 had not even submitted its formal report. In contrast, the efforts made since 2014 highlight the intent of the government in ensuring Indian knowledge systems get adequate global recognition.
May 2 was the 50-day countdown to the 8th International Day of Yoga. Over the years, global participation has increased and last year saw more than 150 million people participating virtually. This year’s event has special significance as it is being celebrated during India’s 75th year of independence as a part of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahostav.
As we commemorate the various events and heroes who fought for India’s Independence, we are also recognising those who have protected Indian culture and heritage over the last 750 years. They have ensured that our value systems are preserved and protected from the various invasions that aimed to wipe out every vestige of our culture and heritage. As an ancient knowledge system that has come down over generations, there is no better moment than this to recognise the power of Yoga. Various ministries and departments are participating in making this event a grand success.
However, it is the participation of non-government entities, spiritual organisations, yoga enthusiasts and the general public that will make this a memorable one. Yoga has now been integrated into the daily lives of crores of people and become a way of life. Over the last seven years, yoga has seen a revival in our national consciousness. At the same time, as a gift to the world, yoga has been embedded deeply into the global consciousness.
G Kishan Reddy is the Union minister of culture, tourism and development of Northeastern Region
The views expressed are personal