Hidden agenda behind Yoga Day?

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This Sunday is ‘International Yoga Day’. Not many people may know about this because the day was just established this year for the first time as result of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal at the United Nations. Despite the brand-new status, it’s reported that 177 countries will be celebrating it in various way and it sounds impressive. Needless to say, India, as the birthplace of yoga, was making a lot of effort to plan a mass yoga session, which 35,000 people are expected to participate in. Unfortunately, I will be leaving India tomorrow and I’m sadly missing the chance to photograph the event.

Mr. Modi seems to take this event as a kick-starter for raising the popularity of yoga especially among young people. His government is even talking about making yoga compulsory at schools. As this ‘yoga fever’ grows bigger, many debates have begun taking place, speculating about Mr. Modi’s ‘hidden agenda’.

Yoga is generally seen as physical and mental exercise for health in western counties or even Japan and it isn’t considered as religious. But in India, yoga is strongly associated with Sanskrit and it’s hard to separate from Hinduism. Many Indians tend to see yoga as a Hindu practice. So Muslims began raising voices against the government’s recent promotion of yoga.

When he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat state, Mr. Modi was labeled as a Hindu nationalist for neglecting the massacres of Muslims during riots in 2002. Although Mr. Modi seems to try to wipe out the negative image by carefully keeping a distance from the right-wing Hindu nationalist organization, RSS which greatly contributed during Mr. Modi’s campaign, it’s not an easy task. Considering his background, it’s quite understandable that Muslims are suspicious over the recent yoga fever.

Well, is Mr. Modi revealing his hidden face or is it just over-concern by Muslims? It probably takes several years before we find out.












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