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India - How a yoga minister should make the Indians healthy

How a yoga minister should make Indians healthy

India's Prime Minister Modi wants to tackle his country's problems holistically with the help of a new ministry. Yoga is much more to him than health science and is now also becoming political.

For some, yoga is a form of physical exercise. For others, a kind of mindfulness and meditation. For the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, yoga is also politics. A staunch vegetarian, early riser, and ardent supporter of traditional Indian health teachings, Modi created a Ministry of Yoga. Yoga minister is Shripad Yesso Naik, previously responsible for the environment. The new ministry will also take care of Ayurveda, naturopathy and homeopathy.

That a yoga ministry is part of Modi's economic stimulus strategy is only surprising at first glance. Modi itself only needs three to four hours of sleep a day. When he feels tired, he strengthens himself with deep breaths, meditation and yoga. And what is good for the Prime Minister with his mammoth program should also give strength to the masses.

Lobbying for yoga

Modi makes no secret of his enthusiasm for traditional Indian health teachings. When Modi was recently in Washington, he praised US President Barack Obama for the benefits of yoga. And when Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was visiting New Delhi in September, Modi gave him a book on yoga. Before the UN General Assembly, Modi finally called for a world day for yoga, which was apparently supported by 50 UN member states.

Modi is convinced that yoga is not only healthy. It could change the entire way of life and create awareness that would help tackle problems such as climate change. And further: «Yoga embodies the unity of body and mind, of thinking and acting, of restraint and fulfillment, of harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. "

Modi once wanted to be a monk. In the end, he became a politician and head of government in a country whose government is calling for decisive measures - and not just aesthetic ones.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), for example, almost every second child in India is impaired in their development as a result of malnutrition and poor hygiene. This is not least due to the fact that around half of the Indian population has no access to running water or toilets. India is considered to be industrialized, but in many parts of the country the same conditions prevail as decades ago.

Modi's ambitious goal

Last October, the Prime Minister launched a new campaign: “Swachh Bharat” is its name and its goal is to ensure that the entire Indian population has access to toilets and running water by 2019. The schedule is illusory, but Modi at least knows the urgency of the problem. In order to tackle the challenges, the Prime Minister calls for a change in awareness. This brings yoga back into play - as part of Modi's philosophy of tackling India's daunting problems holistically.