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Transcript (English Interpretation) of Joint Press Conference by External Affairs Minister and Minister of State (I/C) AYUSH on Celebration of International Day of Yoga (June 9, 2015)

June 11, 2015

Official Spokesperson (Shri Vikas Swarup): May I now request Hon’ble External Affairs Minister and Hon’ble Minister of State for AYUSH, Shri Shripad Naikji to come to the dais please. May I also invite Dr. H.R. Nagendra, Chairman of the Committee constituted by AYUSH; and Secretary, AYUSH, Shri Nilanjan Sanyal to take their places on the dais?

We will begin with an opening statement by the Hon. External Affairs Minister. She will be speaking in Hindi but simultaneous interpretation has been provided. So those of you who need head sets, please put them on.

External Affairs Minister (Shrimati Sushma Swaraj): In the last ten days this is our second meeting. On the first day we had a press conference about the achievements of the External Affairs Ministry, and today’s press conference is about the International Day of Yoga.

I have with me Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of AYUSH Mr. Shripad Naik. On my left side is Vice-Chancellor of S-VYASA University and the Committee Chairman Dr. Nagendra; and Secretary, AYUSH, Mr. Sanyal.

You would remember that in the last press conference I had mentioned one sentence that in only 12 months India has reached the height where India speaks and the whole world listens. The 21st of June to be declared as the International Day of Yoga is a clear-cut example of that. You must have seen in the presentation that on the 27th of September, while addressing the UN General Assembly, Hon. Prime Minister had expressed the desire …(Inaudible)… 21st of June should be declared as the International Day of Yoga. He also said that yoga is just not an exercise. In fact yoga unites man with nature and that is why he wanted that let us move forward with Yoga and let us declare 21st of June as International Day of Yoga.

You have seen the other date also and that was 11th December. On 11th December, 177 countries cosponsored this proposal and it was unanimously passed, and it was passed unopposed. If we just calculate the days, there were only 75 days. On the 27th of September Prime Minister expressed his desire, and on the 11th of December this resolution was passed. Within 75 days itself, 177 countries cosponsored that resolution and it was unanimously passed.

In the presentation it was said that it is a record. How is it a record? The UN record before that was that of Nelson Mandela’s resolution which 168 countries had cosponsored. While breaking that record, in this case 177 countries cosponsored. I just said that this resolution was passed unopposed. So within 75 days, 177 countries cosponsored that resolution. This is a record in itself.

Because it was done at the initiative of India, it is absolutely necessary that India must celebrate this on a grand scale and with much fanfare. In order to achieve that target, …(Inaudible)… of celebrating this day internationally in foreign countries, and AYUSH Ministry was given this responsibility to organise events and celebrate this day within the country. At the same time, the Defence Ministry, the Home Ministry and the HRD Ministry, the Ministry for Youth and Sports, and Tourism Ministry are also associates of this.

I am really happy to tell you all today that of these 177 countries - because many times this issue comes up that maybe Yoga is related to a religion specific - 47 countries are those countries who are members of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC). So, out of 177 countries, 47 are members of OIC and they cosponsored it. Nobody opposed it. They were our cosponsors and they belonged to OIC.

When we talked about having this programme, one thought came up that we must select one time when we can have some kind of a celebration - for example, Earth Day is celebrated at 8 o’clock – so that in all the countries this can be celebrated at the same time. Then we have actually got this message from the Muslim countries that they would be observing Ramzaan and so we should do it after Roza.

Then we said, okay, there is no restriction of any timeline, so you please do it according to your comfort. They specifically said that they want to celebrate it on a grand scale. That is why we accepted that. Earlier we were trying to find one fixed timeline for that. Then we decided that we can have our own time to celebrate that according to our convenience.

I am happy to mention that there are a total of 193 countries in the world including India, and 192 countries are celebrating this Day barring Yemen. Yemen was not included because our Embassy has been closed in that country and shifted elsewhere. And we all know the circumstances in Yemen.

Though other countries are also having some circumstances like that we are celebrating everywhere. One reason why we are not celebrating in Yemen is because we do not have an Embassy there. So in 192 countries, on behalf of External Affairs Ministry this programme will be organized. And our Missions are only 121. There are many countries that are included in this where we are not having our Missions.

In order to call it an international celebration we are celebrating it where we are not even having our Mission. Here especially I would like to express my gratitude to those Yoga teachers whose institutes are supporting us to make sure that we are able to have such events on such a large scale. We tried to send many teachers but we could only send 30 or 31. But these institutes and these Yoga teachers who are having their centres at 121 places said they are ready to send their teachers elsewhere and they would give training to others also. But if we want that this would be done at everywhere, it will be done in all the countries.

Especially through this press conference I would like to express my gratitude to those Yoga teachers who have contributed substantially to making this a great success. After talking about organizing it at international level, within the country we are having the celebrations along with the AYUSH Department. We have plans for a big programme. The big programme is organised by AYUSH. We will have it on Rajpath, and 35,000 people are going to do Yoga on Rajpath.

We had to decide this number only because of the place. We wanted to have one lakh people, but one lakh people would not be adjusted there. We have three types of asanas: in sitting position, in standing position and in lying position also. So the place is required and the mats also have to be placed on the road. So we could not adjust more than 35,000. That is why it had to be restricted to this number.

Apart from that, in 650 Districts, with our own arrangement AYUSH Ministry is working, they have set up NGOs there in all the Districts. There are 676 Districts in the country but 650 are being covered under this and we are having the programmes there. As I said, other Ministries are also supporting this and the State Governments are also celebrating on their own. District Collectors are also working in their own manner.

I am really happy to mention one thing that this programme is not being done only on a Government level, this is being done on a grand scale with much fanfare. In fact whatever we are doing is very small as compared to what the Yoga teachers are doing. They are really doing interesting things. Baba Ramdev is holding 1100 programmes outside in UK …(Inaudible)… programmes himself all alone. He has also tried to cover every village and he had a target of one lakh. And we want to cover ten crore people. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also, they are saying, wants to cover five crore people. This in fact is a mindboggling number and it is very good. There are Jaggi Vasudev’s programmes in other countries also and within the country also in Tamil Nadu. So on such a large scale we are having this celebration and we could not visualize that. It is really interesting.

There is one thing I would like to make a mention of. Especially that in these programmes there is no compulsion of participating in these programmes. This is all voluntary participation. People can take part if they want to. This is our main objective. Nobody should do it under any kind of compulsion. Everybody has been given this instruction that people must come on their own volition and they must do it if they want to do it. Nobody is under compulsion to take part in this.

The third point is that these Yoga institutes and the government are organizing these programmes. But the people who are doing this have their own programmes. People at large are doing it in parks also. It is really pleasantly surprising that there are going to be a lot of big programmes. AYUSH has decided that one postal stamp and two coins, one of the denomination of Rs.100 and the other of Rs.10. Rs. 100 coin would be commemorative and Rs.10 coin would be in circulation. Similarly there would be the postal stamp. This is being released by the Department of Post and RBI is releasing the coins.

At the same time, we have also introduced celebrity endorsements in India, Amitabh Bachhan, Virat Kohli and Sushil Kumar have already endorsed. Outside also in various countries our Missions have invited their celebrities for the endorsement and there is going to be another presentation by AYUSH and by MEA also and you will be able to see all that is going on.

What I need to say is that India has taken this initiative, and the objective behind this is to see how the world, which is suffering from violence, can be brought on to the path of peace. We have the slogan of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam that is the whole world is one family and we can unite it with Yoga. Yoga is the soft power of India and through that soft power the whole world can be one global village, and this trend of violence can be done away with with this kind of peace.

I think this beginning that is going to be done on the 21st of January, this will be a good beginning and we will be able to take the world on the path of peace. This is what I wanted to say. If the MOS, AYUSH wants to say something, he is welcome.

Minister of State (Independent Charge), AYUSH- (Shri Shripad Yesso Naik): I once again welcome everyone. Hon. Sushmaji spoke about the programme that we are going to have abroad and also within the country. This programme will bring glory to our country. We are getting cooperation from all quarters whether it is Yoga gurus, NGOs, or Yoga ashrams. We are getting cooperation from everyone.

The main programme, as has been mentioned, will be in Delhi and all arrangements are being made for that. We will have a very good and grand programme here. The Hon. Prime Minister will grace the occasion by his presence. The Hon. Prime Minister will address the participants and the country. More 35,000 people are expected to be present and participating. All the preparations have been completed.

We have applied for a Guinness Book Record and we will be able to set a record in this regard. We seek cooperation from all of you. You have been cooperating and giving it wide publicity. Even after the programme is over, we will expect your cooperation. With these words, I once again thank you.

Official Spokesperson: I thank the two Ministers for their remarks. We will now have two presentations – the Action Plan by AYUSH and the Action Plan by the Ministry of External Affairs.

Ministry of AYUSH : Hon. External Affairs Minister, Shrimati Sushma Swarjji; Hon. Minister of State, Independent Charge, Ministry of AYUSH, Shri Shripad Naikji; very respect Dr. H.R. Nagendraji; Secretary, AYUSH, Shri Sanyalji; respected Foreign Secretary:

…(Inaudible)… on the 21st June. On that day they will also participate in the early morning programme from 7 to 7:35 am, which will also be followed by a seminar or some small function. We have also requested all the State Governments to organise similar events and we are getting very good support from many other States.

We have planned a very focused communication strategy in consultation with the Ministry of I&B. Also, the Ministry through ICCR has supported private Yoga trainers to support Indian Missions abroad.

Coming to the mass Yoga demonstration at Rajpath, as already indicated by the Hon. Minister, we have developed a Common Yoga Protocol of 35 minutes in a very detailed consultation with all the important Yoga schools of the country. All Yoga gurus and respected teachers have been consulted by our Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga which is one of the institutions under the Ministry of AYUSH. They have developed this common protocol which was finally vetted and approved by a Committee of Yoga experts headed by Dr. Nagendra, Vice-Chancellor of S-VYASA University. This 35-minute Yoga protocol will be performed by everyone in the country. We have shared this DVD and booklet with the Ministry of External Affairs which they have transmitted to various Missions. The entire programme at Rajpath would be telecast live and it will be webcast through NIC and Doordarshan. The 35,000 participants would be from NCC, Delhi schools, Yoga institutions. Among Yoga institutes there are: Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yoga Peeth, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living, Isha Foundation, Gayatri Parivar, our own Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, International Naturopathy Organisation, and of course we are inviting all officers from various Ministries, Departments, Commissions and also our uniformed forces.

We have also applied formally to Guinness World Records for a category called largest Yoga demonstration …(Inaudible)… at a single venue. Of course it requires a great deal of accuracy. Their adjudication, their validation of participation, etc., of the exercise will be undertaken through one of our …(Inaudible)… we have appointed Ernst & Young as the …(Inaudible)… Some of them of course will be participating at Rajpath but many of them will be doing the same thing at their respective premises in their institutions.

As I mentioned, we have shared this DVD with the MEA for use in various Missions abroad. Our Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga is providing technical assistance and support in terms of providing coaches, trainers to NCC, to the Department of Personnel and Training who are organizing …(Inaudible)… Government employees. As mentioned earlier, 650 Districts are covered by the NGOs. Finally, NGOs. Of course there are very few …(Inaudible)…and we are providing them financial assistance of Rs.1 lakh each so that they could train people for one month and they can take part in our main programme also.

For media publicity we have drawn up a very elaborate plan, both electronic and print media. The entire media activity is …(Inaudible)… by Ministry of I&B but Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of HRD …(Inaudible)… the real sense of Yoga is transmitted not only within India but also abroad. In the film made by MEA there was …(Inaudible)… Then we have documentary films made by MEA as well as …(Inaudible)… that will be displayed on 21st June. …(Inaudible)… The booklets and DVDs on our national …(Inaudible)… There is a link on internet-based Yoga. There is a discussion on mygov.in. …(Inaudible)…A user ID will be provided by NIC to Districts where they can also whatever activities they are undertaking in their Districts.

On celebrity endorsements, as has already been mentioned, Amitabh Bachhanji, …ji, Suheel Kumarji have already given their clips which will be aired I think starting from today or tomorrow. There will be jingles to be run on DD and AIR. There are other collaborating Ministries of the entire event. From the Ministry of Defence, more than 11 lakh NCC cadets would be performing this Common Yoga Protocol throughout the country. Their training is already going on for the last about a month. Five thousand of their cadets would also be part of Rajpath contingent.

From the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are nine lakh personnel would be performing in their respective field formations and they are also contributing a contingent of 5,000 personnel from various paramilitary forces like ITBP, CISF, BSF, CRPF, etc.

Ministry of Human Resource Development is observing the International Day of Yoga in all the educational institutions. They have requested the schools, colleges and universities to observe this very important occasion. As already the Minister has mentioned, this is purely on voluntary basis. The contingent of 5,000 school children from Delhi is also being coordinated by the Ministry of HRD, from CBSE, Kendriya Vidyalayas, and the Government of Delhi schools.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs is also helping us a lot particularly in mobilizing foreign participants. Apart from that, members of Nehru Yuvak Kendra Sangathan, etc., will be participating in their respective Districts. They are also undergoing training organised by our NGOs in the Districts as I mentioned earlier.

The Ministry of Culture is also celebrating this in a big way. They are organizing an exhibition on Yoga with Sangeet Natak Academy. The Zonal Cultural Centres would be celebrating the event. Also to commemorate Patanjali’s memory and work, we are going to establish an interpretation centre at Varanasi.

The Ministry of Tourism is coming out with brochures, booklets, magazines projecting India as a Yoga destination for …(Inaudible)… That published material has also been vetted by Dr. Nagendra’s Committee.

Thank you very much.

Question: You are giving out this message of Yoga …(Inaudible)… the people are not accepting this because it is being forced upon the people.

External Affairs Minister: What do you consider as being forced? As I mentioned earlier, we are not putting any compulsions on participation. It is not compulsory. If somebody is participating of their own volition, where is the question of forcing? …(Inaudible)… There are two statements that were made. One is statement made by Adityanathji that those who do not wish to do Yoga must take a Jalasamadhi or drown in the sea. There is another one also. Insofar as what Yogi Adityanathji mentioned, I fully disagree with what he has said, it is an unfortunate statement. As far as what Baba Ramdev has mentioned, he is trying to say that Yoga is not related to any particular religion and there are similar activities that are carried out while doing the Namaz.

Question: Yoga Day is being observed all over the world. And the language that you used, and Urdu is also one of the languages. The madarsas that we have in the country, whether the Government or your Department has also contacted these madarsas to participate in this Yoga Day?

External Affairs Minister: Insofar as the other languages are concerned, there is Arabic which is similar to Urdu and therefore we have included Arabic. As you must have noticed, the six UN languages includes Arabic which we have included. Insofar as the madarsas are concerned, we have asked everyone, nobody has been left out. Madarsas have also not been left out. But we have mentioned that they should participate of their own volition.

Question: Madam, had Pakistan supported this resolution that was moved by India in the UN? Secondly, in Madhya Pradesh there was some controversy with regard to Surya Namaskar. What is the plan of the State Government in that regard?

External Affairs Minister: Insofar as Pakistan is concerned, I mentioned that this was an unopposed resolution. There were 177 cosponsors and nobody had opposed it. Therefore, it was passed unanimously. Insofar as Madhya Pradesh is concerned, they have chalked out a plan for this under the State Government and also by the Yoga institutes.

Let me inform you about the common protocol which has been mentioned in both the presentations. Under the Chairmanship of Dr. Nagendra there was a 5 member Committee constituted which consulted with all the prominent Yoga gurus and institutes and they have chalked out this Common Yoga Protocol for being sent to the Missions abroad and also for government programs. Other institutions can come up with their own programs, they can also include Surya Namaskara. But the Common Yoga Protocol which was prepared with consultation did not include Surya Namaskara because they wanted some very simple asanas which would be very safe so that persons with disabilities could also do it. There may be some people who may not be able to do this. Surya Namaskara is a combination of twelve asanas. There are fifteen asanas that were included. Therefore, it was agreed that Surya Namaskara would not be included in that protocol. But there is no restriction on doing Surya Namaskara. Other organisations can do it.

Question: You mentioned, Madam, that 47 Muslim countries also supported the resolution. But within our own country there are a number of forces which have mentioned that Yoga is non-Islamic and Surya Namaskara is anti-Islam. Do you feel, Madam, that there is an attempt to politicise the issue?

External Affairs Minister: As I mentioned in the beginning, they are saying this because of a lack of understanding. There are 47 member countries of the OIC which have cosponsored this resolution. They have not just supported it, they were cosponsors. If they had known about it, they would not have made this observation.

Question: Madam, you mentioned that because of the Ramzan, in a number of Islamic countries after the Roza Iftar this can be organized. Because there is a large section of Muslim population in India. Those who want to do it after Roza Iftar they can do it. There is no restriction on anyone that they have to do it at eight o’clock in the morning. If people from the Muslim community can do it after Roza Iftar in the evening, they can do it.

External Affairs Minister: This time of 7 to 8 that has been fixed is only for official programs. When do other institutes want to do, when do the people who want to do it in a park, there is no compulsion of any time. If the Muslim community people want to do it after Roza Iftar, they can do that.

Question: Madam, as far as my information goes this is only the first program of India which is being celebrated the world over on a single day and the same time. So, congratulations! Do you feel that Yoga should be made a subject and the children should be given regular Yoga classes so that they have good health? Do you feel that after this Yoga Day they may start a course which the Ministry of HRD may include in school syllabus?

External Affairs Minister: Yes, 21st June is the beginning. On that day when people enjoy doing Yoga they would also like to adopt it. But we do not want to make it mandatory in any syllabus. Yes, of course, it can be included as a course so that children also learn Yoga and improve their health, and they also get some inner peace. In fact Yoga is something that de-stresses people. This is the biggest thing. In fact our children are suffering from a lot of tension and stress. Stress in itself has become a big problem and Yoga is a stress buster. But even in those syllabi there will be an option. If you want to do it, it is okay; if you do not want to do it, that is fine. There will be an option. It will not be a compulsion.

Question: Sushmaji, this is a large-scale program that you are organising. Are Ministers of all the Departments of the Modi Government also going to take part in this? It is not clear.

External Affairs Minister: Yes, all the Ministers are going to participate in this. Most of the Ministers are only going to do it in their Constituencies. Several Ministers have been given certain other places as well, but most of the MPs and Ministers will do it in their Constituencies. But everybody will participate.

Question: You have mentioned that 47 member countries of OIC were cosponsors of the resolution. But in India we are having a dispute. Does it mean that the Government of India has not been able to reason out with the Muslim community in India? Or maybe the image of the Bharatiya Janata Party is such that whatever is done by them, they feel that this is an anti-minority action plan.

External Affairs Minister: Maybe this is what you feel, this is your mindset. I do not think that people feel that whatever BJP does is anti minority. As far as trying to convince the other people is concerned, I am sure it is all because of lack of information. If they come to know that 47 Muslim countries were cosponsors ... In the presentation also those countries were shown where it is being done in various cities. It is done in 192 countries. And 251 cities are celebrating this. There is Saudi Arabia, there is Afghanistan, there is Bangladesh, Indonesia, and all these are Muslim countries where not only at one place but in several cities this program is being organised.

Question: My question is addressed to Shripad Naikji. As Sushma Swarajji also said, because of lack of information such kind of views are there. There has been a statement on your part that during Namaaz, there are certain asanas, nine asanas that are done. Is this is a right statement on your behalf?

Minister of State, Independent Charge, Ministry of AYUSH: Yes, I am still on that statement. When somebody is doing Namaaz, we also request the community that this is Yoga, this is universal, this does not pertain to only one religion, anybody and everybody can do it and they are doing it in their prayers also. So whatever information I have got, I have come to know that there are eight or nine Yoga exercises which are a part of Namaaz also.

Question: …(Inaudible)…

External Affairs Minister: I have learnt it myself from Baba Ramdev. I have been doing it for the last about thirty years.

Question: Madam, this is the time of having patents and at the global level we are having this Yoga. Can we hope as to how India is going to benefit from all this exercise?

External Affairs Minister: So far as our Rishis, Munis, our sages are concerned, whatever they envisioned on their part is there in the public domain for the welfare of humanity. We have never tried to go in for any intellectual property patenting, and we have never even started any case. In fact all the Rishis have already put it in the public domain which is there for the welfare of humanity on our behalf. Yoga is only for the welfare of humanity. We are not going to go in for any patenting.

Question: How much is the event estimated to cost? Do we have a budget for it?

External Affairs Minister: So far as the foreign countries are concerned, all our Missions have a publicity budget. Because this is a soft power India campaign, we are taking it forward. So they will do it with their budget. So far as our country’s budget is concerned, I think no fund as such has been fixed.

Question: Madam, Rahul Gandhi has said that in order to divert people’s attention from the problems, Modiji is starting Yoga for All.

External Affairs Minister: He is in fact trying to fix the international problems. He is talking about India only. The kind of violence and terror we have are spreading. This is also something really big. And Yoga is the solution of that. He is not giving a solution only to India, he is giving a solution to the whole world.

Question: In the western world, Yoga is often practiced as a pure fitness exercise, it is not a holistic life approach. Does this hurt you sometimes or is anything being done against that?

External Affairs Minister: We are not against that. If somebody wants to do it as a fitness exercise, they can do that. If they want to do it as a holistic exercise, they can do it. The only thing is that everyone gets benefit in one way or the other. So even as a holistic care exercise if any country wants to do it, they can do that.

Question: In foreign countries the Missions are sending invitations. Are Heads of States are also invited? To how many of them invitations have been sent and how many Heads of States have given acceptance?

External Affairs Minister: You must have seen some names in the presentation. Invitations have been given to the Heads of States also. Some have given their acceptance and some have not, but invitations have been sent to all.

Question: Pakistan has rejected the visas of some of the instructors that were sent there? Would you like to comment on that?

External Affairs Minister: There is no problem. They have denied visa, we have made an internal arrangement. But Yoga is going to take place there. We were not depending only on those instructors. They have denied visa, we have made some internal arrangement.

Question: I would like to ask two questions. What is the business of Yoga the world over? They say that 35 per cent participation is with by China. What will be our participation? irst of all this business and

External Affairs Minister: First of all, I have objection to all this Yoga business. Yoga for us is not a business. Yoga is not a business for even the Yoga teachers also. This is a mission for us. Yoga is a dedication. As I said, our Rishis, Munis, our sages have given Yoga for the welfare of the community. So we cannot call it a business. Whether is China is earning more or any other country is earning more, we are only doing it for the welfare of the humanity.

Question: Madam, one thing is not clear to me. All the exercise that you are doing, is it meant for the betterment of Indians or for the betterment of the world? I fail to understand this. Who is to follow your instructions? Who is interested to continue all these things?

External Affairs Minister: Insofar as this Protocol is concerned, that is on the basis of Indian Yoga and not on the basis of any other Yoga. Patanjali is the Yoga guru. This is our heritage on the basis of which this has been prepared. As regards who is interested, this is for everyone, for the benefit of all mankind, for the benefit of the entire world.

Question: Madam, you just mentioned that the Government has made some internal arrangements to celebrate the Yoga Day in Pakistan. Could you just be a bit more specific and give us some details? What are the Yoga Day arrangements in Islamabad and other places in Pakistan? And will it be just the Indian High Commission there or will it be other agencies? And, have you also requested any assistance from the Pakistani authorities. and what is the reaction you got from them?

External Affairs Minister: We did not make any kind of request to the Pakistani authorities because when they denied visa to our instructors we knew. Insofar as internal arrangements are concerned, those people who knew Yoga there, we got them trained and with their help we will be able to carry out the function.

Question: Madam, Yoga in plain terms means to add. Are you just connecting people? Yoga connects the soul to the supreme. So, Yoga means to add. So, how do you look at it? How would you describe this?

External Affairs Minister: After practicing Yoga when you meditate, you start connecting. And if you practice it daily, as I mentioned earlier, it connects man to nature and the soul to the supreme being. As you carry on with your practice, you move further and you get to know So Aham - That Is Me.

Question: Madam, have Congress Chairperson Sonia Gandhiji and Rahul Gandhiji also been invited for the celebration on 21st June?

External Affairs Minister: Yes, they have been invited. But going by the kind of statements they have been making, perhaps they will not be attending.

Question: …(Inaudible)…

External Affairs Minister: Scientific study, Not only study but scientific study.

Question: Will the Prime Minister be just addressing the gathering at the Rajpath or will he be participating?

External Affairs Minister: He will only be addressing and he will be present there.

Question: Madam, you said that there will 35,000 people who will be participating in the function at the Rajpath. But all over the world how many people are expected to do Yoga?

External Affairs Minister: We will get the exact numbers later. As I mentioned, Yoga gurus have set large numbers as targets. Baba Ramdev has said that he will reach out to ten crore people; Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will reach out to five crore people; and there are others also. So, we will get to know later as to how many people actually participated.

Question: First of all, how many instructors applied for visas, and was a reason given why the visas were rejected? Also, is this a tit for tat because a Pakistani Diplomat, Idris Mohammad, had sought a visa and that had been rejected by the Indian Government?

External Affairs Minister: The visa that has been rejected was just one. There were 30 Instructors who had applied for visa and no other visa was rejected. Whether it is a tit for tat, it is for Pakistan to tell.

Question: …(Inaudible)…

External Affairs Minister: Vikas told you that I will be in New York along with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. There will be a function at the UN in New York which will be our main programme, perhaps not in terms of numbers but because it is being organised by the UN.

Question: …(Inaudible)…

External Affairs Minister: Same day. Ours will be at 8 o’clock. Here it will be at 7 o’clock. In New York that will be at 8 o’clock local time and here it will be at 7 o’clock.

Question: It has been observed that Yoga has helped our troops deployed at high altitudes a lot in busting their stress, and this has also reduced the tendency to commit suicide amongst them. Particularly for paramilitary forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir and in the North East where they are deployed in difficult areas, will there be a programme to bring down their stress?

External Affairs Minister: Yes, I myself mentioned that it is a stress buster. As regards a government’s programme, as we have been doing it for Army, for CRPF and for other police personnel also should be made to do Yoga so that their stress levels can be brought down.

Question: What is the kind of response being received from the non-BJP States in the country? What is their level of preparedness to observe International Day of Yoga, and what is the kind of preparation in other States?

External Affairs Minister: This is not a programme based on party lines. State Governments are of different political parties. As has been mentioned, they have reached out to 650 Districts which include all the States. That includes States ruled by BJP Governments and also non-BJP Governments.

Question: Madam, this is the first year and you are starting. Is there any plan with the Government to institutionalise it and take it forward in the coming years? Are you planning to celebrate it in a similar fashion?

External Affairs Minister: This will be celebrated every time and it will be better every time. It has been institutionalised. We observe International Women’s Day on the 8th of March. Do we not observe it every year and do we not try to make it better than the previous times? So, whenever such international days are observed by the UN, they are observed every year. And we will try to make it even better.

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