Between the bouquets and brickbats that the two-year-old government at the Centre has received, one thing that stands out is the slew of socially relevant initiatives such as the Swachch Bharath mission, the Ujjwala Yogana, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, and the Jan Dhan Yojana. And then came International Day of Yoga – proposed by PM Modi and approved by the United Nations in just 100 days. The Prime Minister’s proposal at the UN was co-sponsored by 175 countries, the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any such UN General Assembly resolution. It was supported by 177 countries and adopted without a vote!
With the second International Day of Yoga just a few weeks away, we take a quick look at how this initiative came about last year. Six months after the adoption by the UN, on 21 June 2015, the entire world celebrated the first International Yoga Day. From the banks of river Thames in London to the iconic New York Square to Batu caves in Malaysia to a small government school in the interiors of Odisha, the day witnessed yoga being performed by millions of people across ethnicities, nationalities, and faith. That day, that moment, showcased universal unity celebrating an ancient Indian tradition.
The day also saw India setting new Guinness World Records. Led by the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy), 35,985 people and dignitaries from 84 nations came together for 35 minutes at Rajpath in New Delhi to perform 21 yoga asanas and set two new world records. It was the largest number of individuals representing the largest number of nationalities —performing exercises at a single venue. It was hailed as, ‘an astounding achievement, a very rare one.’
With common citizens to national leaders across the world taking to the yoga mats and celebrating International Yoga Day, it was definitely a proud moment and an achievement for us because it celebrated a time-honoured Indian mental, physical, and spiritual practice as something that would promote a healthy lifestyle and also humanity. Among the many achievements and the ‘selfie moments’ that saw the world taking note of India’s new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the recognition and celebration of the International Yoga Day secures a top spot.
In this age, yoga goes beyond just promoting goodwill and good health.
According to the Ministry of AYUSH, India is the second-largest exporter of Ayurvedic and alternative medicines in the world. In 2015, India’s wellness market was estimated at $7.7 billion, and wellness services alone making up 40 percent of the market. The AYUSH sector has an annual turnover of around $1.9 billion. The products market is worth about $629 million. And, with the greater emphasis on yoga and wellness, this sector has the potential to grow big. Yoga guru Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurved clocked Rs 1,200 crore in revenues in 2014, and claimed to cross Rs 2,000 crore last year; it is expected to be a Rs 5,000-crore empire by the end of the 2016-17. If nothing else, the stupendous growth is an indication of the increasing interest in the sector and the business opportunity it presents.
With yoga gaining new-found prominence, and all for the right reasons, it is set to positively impact the state of health of people all over the world and also the Indian economy. Here’s looking forward to seeing how the second International Day of Yoga is celebrated.