India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants the world to adopt International Yoga Day. On Saturday, September 27th, Modi spoke before the U.N. General Assembly on matters related to terrorism, climate change, and the need for all of us to come together for a united day of yoga.
In his first address to the U.N. General Assembly since his resounding election victory in May, Modi also invoked India’s Hindu and ascetic traditions, saying they might provide answers to climate change and called for an International Yoga Day.
“Yoga should not be just an exercise for us, but it should be a means to get connected with the world and with nature,” Modi said as he called on the United Nations to adopt an International Yoga Day.
“It should bring a change in our lifestyle and create awareness in us, and it can help fighting against climate change.”
It’s an interesting approach to fight climate change through yoga, but maybe it’s not so super duper far fetched. As yoga practitioners we know how getting in touch with our body often has the added effect of getting more in touch with nature and the environment around us as well. However, we’re not entirely sure the world will immediately jump on the “save the world with yoga” bandwagon. Unless…
On Saturday evening, Modi joined music celebs like Jay Z and Beyonce, Sting, No Doubt, and The Roots, in Central Park at the Global Citizen Festival to end global poverty. It would be interesting to see what the celebration and observance of International Yoga Day might look like around the world. We have a feeling the occasion would need a little Bey and Jay star power to make it official in the U.S. (Wanderlust is going to want to get in on this — we can picture the sponsorships for the grand yoga and music festival now.)
So far the leaders of The leaders of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal are in for Modi’s proposal. Here’s looking at you Obama, and the rest of the world.
Though he has his fans, Modi’s political career has not been without controversy:
In 2002, when Modi was governor of India’s Gujarat province, Hindu rioters killed more than 1,000 Muslims. Modi, a Hindu nationalist, is accused of helping incite the crowds, and police under his charge were accused of joining the rioters and shooting Muslim civilians.
The State Department barred Modi from traveling to the United States until he became India’s prime minister.
“Once a fascist always a fascist,” said Satish Kolluri, a Pace University professor who helped lobby members of Congress to block Modi from getting a visa in the past.
The Hindu cultural nationalism that Modi promotes “goes against the grain of secular India,” Kolluri said. “India is like America, we celebrate secularism.”
Still, many feel he will change India for the better. This, and what International Yoga Day might entail, remains to be seen.
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