In 2014, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the United Nations Common Meeting for the primary time, he arrived with a mission: to suggest a decision declaring June 21 as Worldwide Yoga Day and recognizing India because the religious birthplace of yoga. .
Addressing a gathering of round 200 political leaders, Modi enthusiastically described yoga as a “priceless present”. [India’s] historic custom”. He urged that respecting yoga might assist promote world peace, cut back the results of local weather change and fight armed violence. The next yr, the world celebrated its first Yoga Day.
And on Wednesday, the United Nations welcomed Modi again to its headquarters to preside over this yr’s occasion. However what model of India did Modi present the world?
That is what builds on India’s mainstream picture because the world’s largest secular democracy and residential to a rising financial system. It isn’t a model that acknowledges a damaged democracy — the rise of an authoritarian, Hindu nationalist and caste-hegemonic agenda in Modi’s India is indicative.
Since turning into chief of the Bharatiya Janata Get together (BJP), Modi and his religious allies have appropriated yoga as propaganda for Hindu nationalism and right-wing insurance policies; To rewrite the historical past of India; and divert public consideration from the Hindu supremacist political agenda.
Merely put, Modi has weaponized yoga to cover political and systemic violence towards oppressed minorities in India.
That is what he did in entrance of world leaders and yoga followers on the United Nations Day of Yoga – he was The spectacle of what I call Om washingwas used to masks the underlying agenda of racist nationalist state violence.
None of this ought to be confused with any actual conviction to make use of yoga to create a extra simply, unified and free world.
Emphasizing that the traditional Indian traditionSees the world as a family”, Modi typically means that yogic philosophy guides his efforts to advertise democracy and peace throughout India’s borders and with worldwide companions. Nonetheless, democracy in Modi’s India is in severe decline.
The nation has seen a rise in state patronage and vigilance Attacks on Muslims, Christians, Dalits and different oppressed minorities since Modi took over. Modi has not solely given Hindu nationalists extra leeway to assault marginalized communities, however his administration has weakened the unbiased establishments of Indian democracy, together with the judiciary.
Globally, it has strengthened army partnerships with states like Israel, France, and the USA, nations that capitalize on Islamophobia and warmongering politics. Modi’s yoga lends itself to peaceable and democratic rules as a method of devoting itself to home and war-related investments.
local weather change?
Modi has additionally urged that the yogic life-style can reverse the damaging results of world warming and promote environmental sustainability. Calling for a mass motion towards local weather change, Modi has pledged India’s dedication to internet zero emissions by 2070, whereas urging each day local weather yogis to do their half by altering their roles.
Whereas yoga can definitely be used to fight local weather change, Modi’s continued funding within the fossil gas trade and army spending present that his promise to curb emissions is an empty promise — particularly with regards to army emissions. are persistently excluded from local weather change agreements.
Local weather scientists and environmental activists have argued that responding to ever-threatening local weather disaster would require a basic divestment from the consumer-based capitalist financial system. However Modi stays dedicated to particular person options that don’t essentially change the construction of the financial system and serve his final agenda of demonstrating help for “inexperienced” insurance policies whereas selling packages that actively defend our planet. destroy
In his 2014 speech on the United Nations, Modi additionally stated that world leaders have to work collectively to fight “terrorism and extremism”. Nonetheless, Modi makes use of the Islamophobic discourse of the “warfare on terror” to disregard state-sanctioned militarism.
In August 2019, Modi’s Govt Rejected semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, which India’s solely Muslim-majority state loved after its accession to newly unbiased India in 1947. This was adopted by a crackdown – political actions have been banned, politicians have been detained and the web was shut down, and many others. India deployed extra troops in probably the most closely militarized areas of the world.
In the meantime, the Indian Military posted footage of it Soldier in yoga pose. In distinction, the Indian Military is accused of human rights violations in Kashmir, and it exhibits how Modi and his allies use oom-washing to whitewash India’s brutal monitor document in Kashmir.
With Modi’s Yoga Day efficiency at Occasions Sq. reside streamed and on social media platforms, I consider 1000’s of politically impartial attendees would have joined in. In any case, what is the hurt in doing yoga with Modi, proper? It isn’t like doing yoga with him and 1000’s of others is an endorsement of a political agenda.
However I encourage these on hearth to acknowledge how taking part in such occasions legitimizes Modi’s Om-washing efforts — this agenda of utilizing yoga to cover his Hindu supremacist ideology. It’s time to reclaim yoga by rejecting this historic follow of Modi.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror the editorial place of Al Jazeera.
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