India and world is celebrating the 7th International Day of Yoga virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2014 the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed marking a day as the International Day of Yoga in his address at the UN General Assembly. The proposal was endorsed by 175 member states, post which the United Nations recognised June 21 as the day to celebrate Yoga. Hence, June 21 is celebrated as International Day of Yoga since 2015.
Over the past 18 months, Yoga has gained more importance due to the coronavirus pandemic, and accordingly the theme for International Yoga Day 2021 has been decided by the UN to be “Yoga for well-being”. Delhi CM Kejriwal said “Yoga helps in cultivating high immunity and could not only help preventing people from getting COVID but also in dealing with postCOVID complications.”
The Union Ministry of AYUSH began the lead programme of the event at 6:30 am. During the programme, PM Narendra Modi addressed the nation. He said “Yoga will be a ray of hope as the world fights the Covid-19 pandemic. Yoga has been armour for doctors treating Covid patients, as certain asanas improve the respiratory system and resist infection. It also made people strong from within, helping in fighting the disease.” He added “The ‘Yoga for Wellness’ theme this year has encouraged people even more to perform yoga. I pray that every country, region, and people, stays healthy.”
During his address, PM Modi also stated that the pandemic has not dampened the enthusiasm for yoga worldwide and announced that India, along with United Nations and WHO, is launching an app called M-Yoga aiming to provide easy access to Yogic practice in different languages all over the world.
Images emerging from various parts of the globe showing people marking the World Yoga Day by practicing Yoga in small groups, suggests that India is effectively using Yoga to lead in soft power. Indian politician Sushma Swaraj in her UN speech explicitly emphasized the importance of yoga as a tool for unity and India’s soft power. Furthermore the Prime Minister stressed on the need to reach yoga to every corner of the world and the need for fusion of modern technology and ancient scientific knowledge like yoga. “Yoga will play a preventive and positive role in healthcare for masses” Modi said.