Foreign ministry asks to embrace yoga to battle after-effects of covid

Foreign ministry asks to embrace yoga to battle after-effects of covid

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After two hectic months of scouring the world for drugs, liquid medical oxygen, and oxygen-related equipment needed to fight a brutal second wave of covid-19 infections that had hit the country, the Indian foreign ministry seems to be getting down to the more normal business of diplomacy.

One of the first events that the ministry is focusing on is the International Day of Yoga on Monday–seen as a showcase of Indian soft power. According to the UN website, this year’s theme is “Yoga for well-being.”

“The message of yoga in promoting both physical and mental well-being of humanity has never been more relevant. A growing trend of people around the world embracing yoga to stay healthy and rejuvenated and to fight social isolation and depression has been witnessed during the pandemic,” said the note on International Day of Yoga on the UN website. “Yoga is also playing a significant role in the psycho-social care and rehabilitation of covid-19 patients in quarantine and isolation. It is particularly helpful in allaying their fears and anxiety,” it added.

In India, the Indian Council of Cultural Relations has disbursed funds to India’s more than 170 diplomatic missions to celebrate the occasion. Over 100 missions across the world have already hosted many pre-Yoga Day events–though on smaller scales than on previous occasions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has written to his counterparts in many countries ahead of International Day of Yoga to ensure the success of the event, Mint has learnt. With many countries opening up, albeit cautiously this year, after being shut down due to covid-19 last year, on the back of the hope that the pandemic was waning, Yoga Day events were likely to be a mix of people doing yoga with social distancing in the outdoors in smaller numbers and people performing the exercises from their homes.

Besides this, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will attend in person a meeting of national security advisors in Tajikistan of the regional Shanghai Cooperation Organisation that brings together Central Asian countries, Russia, China, and Pakistan besides India. With Doval expected to come face to face with his newly appointed Pakistani counterpart Moeed Yusuf, speculation is rife of a meeting between the two in Tajikistan though Indian officials have discounted the possibility. India and Pakistan had announced they would uphold a border firing truce in February 2021 which is holding. There have also been news reports of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) playing the role of an interlocutor in bringing the two to the talks table.

The ministry is also gearing up for an upcoming meeting of the G-20 foreign ministers in Italy, that Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar could attend in person later this month. According to a schedule put out by the Italian government, the foreign affairs ministerial meeting will be held in Matera, southern Italy on 29 June. “A joint session of foreign and development ministers will also take place during the same day,” the schedule said adding that both meetings would be hosted by Italian foreign minister Luigi di Maio. A meeting of the G-20 health ministers is scheduled for September while another of the grouping’s trade ministers is to happen in October. The G-20 summit, which may see Prime Minister Narendra Modi traveling to Italy, is to take place in Rome on 30-31 October.

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