Since forming the government in May 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has focused on India’s traditional knowledge system. In November 2014, the government established a separate Ayush ministry to ensure that the seven traditional healthcare systems including Ayurveda and Yoga are fully utilized in our public healthcare system.
By December 2014, the United Nations had passed a resolution proclaiming June 21st as International Yoga Day, in 177 countries. In June 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a speech to a joint session of the US Congress that India does not claim intellectual property rights in yoga, underscoring the fact that India’s traditional knowledge system has always been open and accessible to all. Since then, the Prime Minister has made it clear in multiple public forums that yoga is India’s gift of health and peace to the world.
Yoga originated in Hinduism, and Lord Shiva is considered to be its first practitioner. However, like the universal values espoused by Hinduism, yoga also has universal appeal and a global perspective. This can also be seen in the way the practice has gained global acceptance. From Vladivostok in the east to Vancouver in the west, from Cape Town in the south to Copenhagen in the north, people all over the world use yoga for its healing potential. This shows the intrinsic value that yoga brings to those who adopt and practice it. From addressing specific ailments to preventive benefits and overall mental health, yoga is now recognized as a practice that can help individuals cope with the stress of the 21st century.
The global journey to embrace yoga is a relatively recent phenomenon, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership has played a major role in this effort. During the previous government before 2014, the two responses in the question time of the Lok Sabha reflected the government’s indifference and disdain for yoga and traditional Indian knowledge systems.
In August 2007, in response to the Lok Sabha’s question on whether the Indian government had dealt with the US government in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) sanctions against yoga-related copyrights and trademarks, the Ministry of Commerce of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India acknowledged that although the patent, but it has no intention of discussing the matter with the U.S. government. Also in February 2014, a few months before Narendra Modi became prime minister, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare admitted that the Yoga Task Force, established in March 2009, did not even submit an official report. In contrast, the Indian government’s efforts since 2014 underscore the government’s intention to ensure that India’s knowledge system is fully recognized globally.
Fifty days later, on June 21, India and the world will celebrate the eighth International Day of Yoga. Global engagement has increased over the years, with more than 150 million people participating virtually last year. This year’s event has special significance as it is celebrated as part of “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahostav” during the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.
As we commemorate the various events and heroes who fought for Indian independence, we are also honoring those who have protected Indian culture and heritage. They ensure that our value system is protected and protected from invasions of all kinds designed to wipe out every trace of our culture and heritage. As an ancient body of knowledge passed down from generation to generation, there has never been a better time to recognize the power of yoga. The active participation of various ministries and commissions made this event a complete success.
However, it was the participation of NGOs, spiritual organizations, yoga enthusiasts and the general public that made the event memorable. Yoga has now been integrated into thousands of daily lives and has become a way of life. In India, over the past seven years, yoga has witnessed a revival of our national consciousness. At the same time, yoga has become deeply rooted in global consciousness as a gift to the world.
The author is the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Development of the Northeast Region