Britain will mark the recently-declared ‘World Yoga Day’ by the United Nations with a mega event on June 21, in what may be seen as India’s growing “soft power” in the world.
Indian High Commissioner to the UK Ranjan Mathai made the announcement at a parliamentary group meeting here yesterday.
The UN adopted an India-led resolution declaring June 21 as ‘International Day of Yoga’ in December last year, less than three months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed the idea.
The resolution was overwhelmingly co-sponsored and adopted in the world body, recognising that “Yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being”.
Yoga is the 5,000-year-old Indian physical, mental and spiritual practice that aims to transform body and mind.
Describing UK’s decision to celebrate the ‘World Yoga Day’s as a sign of India’s growing “soft power”, Mathai told a group of British MPs at the meeting that it will be a “big day in the UK as well”.
Mathai was invited as a guest speaker by the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to present an overview on ‘Recent developments in India’s foreign relations and India-UK relations’.
The meeting was attended by leading British Indian parliamentarians who are members of the group, chaired by Virendra Sharma and vice-chaired by Lord Karan Bilimoria.
Another key member Keith Vaz expressed his disappointment that Prime Minister Modi had decided not to visit Britain among his first few foreign visits.
“The need for an early visit has been reflected back from the UK. As election rules come in place here in March, no high-level visits are being planned. I am certain there will be a quick scheduling of a visit as soon as elections are over in May,” Mathai told the APPG.
In reference to a proposed visit by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to unveil a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Parliament Square on March 14, Mathai added: “There is no official announcement on it yet but it will be a very significant visit, coming just weeks after the Union Budget.”