Thursday, 9 July 2015


Owing to the efforts of the Indian Prime Minister, 21st June has been declared as International Day of Yoga by the United Nations (UN). But with this declaration also came a number of controversies. The day is looked upon as a symbol of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hindutva agenda. While that may or may not be true, the day’s validity lies in the fact that there are 177 countries sponsoring it and the decision was accepted unanimously in the UN, which is historic. During an era when the world runs on the principle of majoritarianism, a unanimous vote is significant.
Furthermore, the debate over the “ownership” of Yoga is not going to lead anywhere because, in the present day and age, nothing remains untouched by external cultural influences. From cuisines to art forms, everything has elements borrowed from other cultures that has enhanced their beauty. Yoga, today, has Indian roots along with having Western versions, because of the contribution of those like Indra Devi, and therefore cannot really belong to just one country - was never even intended to as its underlying objective is to liberate oneself. Unacceptable remarks by a select few send a wrong message about a group, as a whole, further widening the gap between them and others. Controversies surrounding the day only serve to highlight the tremendous, albeit unnecessary, importance placed on trivial issues, instead of focusing on bigger issues of morality and humanity.

All the same, merely assigning a single day to celebrate yoga and launching nation-wide preparations for the same, particularly for all government officials and students, is not going to be enough. Instead it should be performed voluntarily. To conclude, diversity requires a degree of compromise, respect, acceptance and peace from all stakeholders; otherwise, we will never be able to concentrate on matters that affect humanity as a whole.

Deepanshi Sharma

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