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UN to observe June 21 as Int’l Yoga Day at Modi’s suggestion

The United Nations is set to adopt an India-led resolution, backed by 175 of its 193 member states, to observe June 21 as the International Day of Yoga. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appealed to the UN to mark the day every year as recognition of the benefits of practicing yoga.

Incidentally, the day is also the punya tithi or death anniversary of the founder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. Hedgewar, who passed away on that day in 1940, was a doctor by profession and laid much stress on physical training, particularly yoga, of Sangh volunteers. Hedgewar, the first sarsanghchalak or chief of RSS, was born in 1889 and the current year marks his 125th birth anniversary. Modi was a RSS pracharak for several years before joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Sangh Parivar sources termed it nothing more than “a happy coincidence” that Modi had suggested that particular day during his maiden speech at the UN on September 27, that it has now been accepted. At that speech, Modi had indicated that June 21, one of the two solstices, has special significance in many parts of the world, being the longest day in the northern hemisphere, and that it be considered for adoption as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly.

The draft resolution will recognise that “yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well being”. In his speech on September 27, Modi had said: “Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being.” He had said that “by changing our life-style and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”

The India-initiated resolution found the backing of 175 member states, including the US, Japan, China, Iran, Iraq, the UK, France, Russia, United Arab Emirates and several others. The 18 who are yet to support the resolution include Pakistan, North Korea, Malaysia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Monaco, Estonia and Lithuania.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the annual commemorations of this new International Day will also serve to promote other United Nations goals and initiatives. “Yoga can contribute to resilience against non-communicable diseases. Yoga can bring communities together in an inclusive manner that generates respect. Yoga is a sport that can contribute to development and peace. Yoga can even help people in emergency situations to find relief from stress,” he said.

According to Indian government officials, 175 of the 193-members of the General Assembly have joined as co-sponsors of the resolution, which is the highest number of co-sponsors for any UN resolution. The resolution would be adopted under ‘Global Health and Foreign Policy’.
 

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