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Editorial Articles

Issue no 12, 17 - 23 June 2023

India to Spotlight Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam on Yoga Day: Ayush Minister


Yoga transcends the boundaries of time and culture. It is a profound practice that unites body, mind, and spirit, offering a path towards self-realisation and holistic well-being. Rooted in the rich traditions and wisdom of India, Yoga has gained global recognition for its transformative effects on physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual growth. As the world celebrates the International Yoga Day on June 21, Employment News presents an enlightening interview with Union Minister for AYUSH Shri Sarbananda Sonowal by senior journalist Sidharath Jha. The Minister has shed light on the Government's unwavering commitment under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to preserve and promote Yoga while also providing insights into the challenges and opportunities encountered on this transformative journey of integrating Yoga into mainstream healthcare and positioning India as a hub for holistic healthcare.

Q: How is your Ministry commemorating this year's International Day of Yoga?

A: The Government of India has been actively involved in promoting Yoga both within the country and on the global stage. In 2014, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi proposed the idea of observing June 21st as the International Day of Yoga, which was unanimously adopted by the United Nations. Since then, the day has been commemorated on a massive scale across the country and around the world. This year, we have chosen the theme 'Yoga for Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' for this year's International Day of Yoga. The ethos of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, meaning 'the world is a single family,' underscores the interconnectedness of all beings and the significance of working in tandem to create a healthier and more harmonious world. This philosophy clearly applies to Yoga, which advances health and wellness for all. Elaborate plans has been prepared and drawn to celebrate the International Day of Yoga this year. An Ocean Ring of Yoga will be created on 21st June with the help of the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, which will witness Yoga demonstrations at Indian naval ports, commercial ports and ships stationed at different countries. The flight decks of INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya will also showcase Yoga demonstration in synergy. Further, Yoga demonstrations will also take place from Arctic to Antarctica- countries falling on or near the Prime Meridian line will join the Yoga demonstration. Yoga will happen on North and South Pole regions. Himadri- the Indian Research Base in Svalbard, Arctic and Bharati- the third Indian Research Base in Antarctica are likely to join the festival along with millions other from across the globe.


Yog Bharatmala will be created which will witness participation from the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy, Coast Guard and Border Roads Organisation. AYUSH Health & Wellness Centres under the National AYUSH Mission, and 50,000 Amrit Sarovars of the Ministry of Rural Development will be part of this year's celebrations. The ultimate objective is to achieve Har Aagan Yoga by taking the concept to rural and remote areas. For this, provisions have been made to train people in Common Yoga Protocol (CYP) in more than 2 lakh villages in India. Moreover, the Ministry of External Affairs has encouraged Indian Embassies and Consulates worldwide to organise Yoga events on the occasion of the International Day of Yoga. This promotes Yoga among the global community and strengthens India's cultural diplomacy.


Q: Kindly provide us a brief insight into the Government of India's flagship programme for promoting the integration of Yoga and traditional medicines into mainstream healthcare.

A: The centrally sponsored scheme of Ministry of AYUSH, the National AYUSH Mission, was launched in 2014 to promote and develop the Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) systems of medicine. By placing emphasis on healthy lifestyle choices, stress reduction, balanced nutrition, and natural remedies, the Mission seeks to promote a holistic approach to healthcare through traditional Indian medicine systems in preventing illness, promoting overall well-being, and enhancing the quality of life. It supports the integration of these systems into the healthcare delivery framework and provides financial assistance for infrastructure development, capacity building, and research in these areas. Yoga is considered an essential component of traditional Indian medicine systems and is widely recognised for its positive impact. Hence, the policies and initiatives undertaken under the National AYUSH Mission aim to promote the integration of Yoga into mainstream healthcare, raise awareness about its benefits, ensure quality standards, and facilitate research and collaboration between traditional and modern medical systems, and position India as a global leader in Yoga and traditional systems of medicine.


Q: How is the Government fostering research, ensuring quality standards, and facilitating collaborations to enhance the scientific validation of Yoga?

A: The Ministry of AYUSH has established councils and institutions dedicated for Yoga research. The Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN) conducts research, provides training, and promotes scientific validation of Yoga and Naturopathy. Similarly, the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (MDNIY) focuses on education, training and establishing international/ national collaboration in the field of Yoga. Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) have been signed with several countries and organisations to facilitate joint research projects, exchange programs, and workshops focused on Yoga. The Ministry encourages collaborative research efforts between traditional and modern medical systems. It facilitates partnerships between Yoga research institutions, medical colleges, and universities to explore the integration of Yoga in mainstream healthcare. This collaboration helps in generating scientific evidence and enhancing the credibility of Yoga as a therapeutic modality. The Ministry also supports the publication of research findings through dedicated research journals. These journals provide a platform for researchers to disseminate their work and contribute to the growing body of knowledge in the field of Yoga. It also provides financial support for research studies related to Yoga through various schemes and programmes.


Q: What steps have been taken to integrate Yoga into academics and provide training opportunities?

A: The Government has encouraged collaboration between traditional systems of medicine, including Yoga, and modern medical institutions. This includes integrating Yoga into the curriculum of medical colleges and encouraging research studies on the therapeutic benefits of Yoga in collaboration with medical professionals. The Government has also established regulatory bodies and certification processes to ensure the quality and standardisation of Yoga education and training. This includes the Quality Council of India's certification scheme for Yoga professionals, which aims to ensure that Yoga instructors meet specific competency standards.


Q: How is the Government promoting Yoga among the Youth?

A: The Government has emphasised the inclusion of Yoga in the school curriculum. The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has developed textbooks and resource materials on Yoga for schools, and efforts are being made to integrate Yoga into physical education programs. Yoga Olympiad in school, regular Yoga training and workshops are being organised for the healthcare professionals, teachers, and general practitioners to enhance their knowledge and skills in Yoga therapy. These programmes aim to build a network of trained professionals who can promote and integrate Yoga in their respective fields. These comprehensive efforts highlight Government's commitment to promoting Yoga as a holistic practice for health and wellbeing.


Q: In what ways does the integration of Yoga into India's healthcare system contribute to the country's allure as a Medical Value Travel (MVT) destination?

A: The growth of Medical Value Travel (MVT) in India is aligned to 'Heal in India and Heal by India' initiative. Yoga's integration into this scheme enhances India's attractive-ness as a destination for MVT and provides patients with a comprehensive and enriching healthcare experience. This approach will be further strengthened as scientific research enables researchers to explore the physiological, psychological, and therapeutic mechanisms underlying the benefits of Yoga. The scientific study of Yoga has increased substantially in recent years and many clinical trials have been designed to assess its therapeutic effects and benefits. Mainly due to its recognition as a form of mind-body medicine that integrates an individual's physical, mental and spiritual components to improve aspects of health, particularly stress related illnesses. Based on the research evidence, Yoga has numerous health benefits: studies have shown that regular practice of Yoga helps to reduce blood pressure and improve cardiac output, lung capacity, reduce stress, improve flexibility, enhance strength and endurance, and bring balance in the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system, which helps to improve mood and behavior.


Q: Amidst the pursuit of promoting Yoga at a massive level globally, what are the main challenges and opportunities your Ministry has encountered so far?

A: Promotion of Yoga as an integral part of healthcare and wellbeing requires dedicated efforts on various facets. The Ministry of AYUSH has taken this challenge and is confident to achieve this goal. We are working on creating awareness about the benefits of Yoga and changing perceptions about it. Some section still view Yoga as a purely spiritual or exercise practice, rather than recognising its therapeutic potential and evidence-based benefits. Ensuring standardisation of Yoga practices and quality control in training programs and facilities is essential. So we are developing uniform guidelines, certification processes, and accreditation systems for Yoga professionals and institutions. We are working to ensure accessibility and affordability of Yoga services for all strata of populations. We are confident that there is immense opportunity for the adoption of Yoga as a way of life. India's rich cultural heritage and history of Yoga provide a unique advantage in promoting Yoga globally. Yoga's popularity and acceptance worldwide offer opportunities for India to position itself as a leading hub for Yogabased healthcare and wellness tourism. Yoga's focus on wellness and preventive care aligns with the global shift towards holistic health approaches. By promoting Yoga, the Government can contribute to reducing the burden on healthcare systems by emphasising preventive measures and lifestyle interventions.


(The interviewer is a Delhibased senior journalist. He can be reached at jha.air.sidharath@gmail.com)

Views expressed are personal.