20 July 2015
Worldwide observance of the International Yoga Day has been criticised as attempting to promote Hindu nationalism, directly linked to Narendra Modi’s past affiliations with Hindu nationalist groups.
Further analysis suggests it is a viable soft power measure of the Indian government.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted International Yoga Day on 21 June 2015 at the suggestion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was inaugurated in New York by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and in New Delhi by Modi. More than 35,000 people participated in the mass yoga event in the Indian capital.
However the event resulted in domestic social backlash from religious minorities, especially Muslim groups. They accused Modi of pursuing a Hindu agenda through yoga, which the groups say is against Islamic teachings. The uproar was fuelled when key Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders made derogatory remarks about Muslims and their reaction to the yoga day.
… Juhi Ahuja is a research analyst with the Studies in Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies (SRP) Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
SRP / Online
Last updated on 16/11/2015