[Editorial] Surya Namaskar and Yoga as Soft Power

What is Surya Namaskar?

  • Surya namaskar is an exercise involving a sequence of 8 asanas in Yoga. It is performed in 12 steps.
  • Its relative simplicity mean that it can be performed by all age groups without much difficulty.
  • Though its name translates into ‘sun salutation’, it more significant than that. It is believed to have a positive impact on physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the practitioners.
  • It is said to improve the immune system when performed on a regular basis.
  • It helps maintain a balance in the fast paced world which ladles out stress.

What did the Ayush Ministry do with it?

  • On occasion of Makar Sankranti (January 14th), the Ayush Ministry is utilizing surya namaskar to reach out to the world with a special message of rejuvenation.
  • Based on the ‘whole of government’ approach, a surya namaskar demonstration program was launched- in tribute to the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, marking 75 years of independence.
  • Other departments, state governments and major stakeholders in the yoga sphere has been included in this mass demonstration program.
  • In order to maintain a continuum and build synergies, an initiative to organize 75 crore surya namaskar is being planned.

How has India been using Yoga as soft power?

  • At a domestic level, the Ayush Ministry has been dedicating resources for the growth and development of yoga and naturopathy under the ambit of traditional medicine systems.
  • The ministry has constituted the yoga certification board for accrediting institutions and professionals. This is to boost professional activity in the area.
  • To popularize yoga on a global level, the ministry has been taking efforts to have it recognized as a competitive sport. For instance, the ministry has constituted the IYSF or International Yoga Sports Federation.
  • The International Day of Yoga was recognized in 2014 and with each year, the participation has been increasing.
  • The ministry is setting up a centre of excellence for yoga and Ayurveda in the UK.

What is the way ahead for India’s soft power strategy?

  • With the coming of the pandemic, the world has started realizing the importance of a strong immunity. In this context, the recent mass demonstration event takes significance.
  • There needs to be a public diplomacy strategy that is comprehensive enough to communicate the Indian story to the world.
  • When it comes to public diplomacy, planning, evaluation and reinventions are the pain points.
  • Reinvention is key as the public diplomacy of the 19th century won’t cater to the needs of the 21st century. Hence, India must engage non-state actors like practitioners and think tanks, in addition to diplomats, to reinvent the soft power strategy.
  • Soft power, by its nature, non-coercive and organic. It relies on attraction and persuasion– as opposed to coercion used by hard power.
  • India can look beyond yoga at other emerging spheres too- arts, cuisines, technology, entrepreneurship, traditional medicine system, language, literature, sports, tourism, archaeology and conservation, education, etc.
  • In addition to this, other aspects need to be factored in- evaluating the Indian diaspora’s impact, presence in multilateral organizations, etc.
  • Culture has emerged as a significant sphere of soft power and its value arises from its ability to boost the national brand and enable closer people-to-people ties. Enabling cultural exchange is an important way to wield soft power. It would be especially significant in times of anti-Asian sentiments and rising hyper-nationalism.


The recent mass demonstration takes significance in light of the increased global health consciousness and the increased focus on the role of traditional medicine. However, when wielding soft power, India shouldn’t keep the focus confined to yoga. It must develop a strategy taking advantage of the vast array of cultural gems that the country’s diverse population has to offer.

Related Articles

AYUSH Sector in India – Objectives, Scope, Challenges, Way Forward

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the spotlight on the health-promoting and disease-preventive solutions of Ayush disciplines. Recently, the operational integration of Ayush Grid, the emerging IT backbone for AYUSH Sector with the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), was endorsed at a high-level meeting. This integration will be immensely beneficial to the public for availing varied options for their health needs. The integration will also accelerate the mainstreaming of the AYUSH disciplines of healthcare.

Single/Unified Ministry for Energy Sector – Why do we need it?

NITI Aayog’s Draft National Energy Policy had called for a single unified ministry to administer India’s energy sector. India currently has a number of ministries and government departments to deal with issues pertaining to the energy sector. This is not allowing for the optimum use of energy and is increasing the complexity of the energy-related issues. The Draft NEP is going to be placed for the Cabinet approval in the near future. Accepting and implementing the NEP’s recommendations on reforming energy governance is vital for addressing the country’s energy sector issues. However, the government should also carefully traverse the recommended reform given the hard-hitting implications on the existing bureaucratic structure.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in India – Importance, Types, Concerns, Initiatives

Creativity and innovation are the energy source that fuels the growth and development of any knowledge economy. The 21st century, particularly, belongs to the knowledge era and is driven by the knowledge economy. With rapid globalization and liberalization of trade, there has been an emergence of “Intellectual Capital” as a key wealth generator resulting in Intellectual property rights becoming an irreplaceable element.

Outcome Based Budgeting: Features, Advantages, Issues

As the government of India grapples with the fiscal deficit issues in the wake of slowdown in the economy, there is a rising churn about the fiscal management of government. As the fiscal strategy is one of the functions of budgetary process, it is important to understand some of the key models in budgetary effectivity. The Outcome based budgeting is on such model of budgeting which strives to bring result-based decision making.

Mindmaps for upsc. Notes for upsc

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

Contact Us

* Our response time is 5-10 mins. Mail id: [email protected]


Contact Us