My greetings on this Day to you and through you, to my beloved citizens of Mizoram.  It is indeed a moment of great joy that we are observing the 2nd International Yoga Day today. 

Today, from the occident to the orient, Yoga is an extremely popular form of activity and has been endorsed by prominent personalities everywhere irrespective of caste, religion or creed.  This has not been without reason, as there are many scientifically proven benefits of Yoga. We must look at Yoga, as a form of exercise which stimulates the organs, boosts fitness and flushes out toxins. People in countries across the globe are practicing and reaping the benefits of Yoga. It always promotes and encourages harmony in diversity as the word ‘Yoga’ itself means uniting i.e. diverse aspects of existence of life. 

Introduced by our Prime Minister in the General Assembly of UN in September, 2014, the United Nations declared that International Yoga Day be observed, the world over, on 21st June, as a celebration of health and fitness.  This Day is now globally recognized and more than 200 countries are reportedly partaking in this union of body and mind. On June 10, 2016, our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi while addressing the Joint Session at US Congress informed that in the US alone, 30 million persons practice Yoga daily.  This statement was not only greeted by a big applause but the Congressmen gave him a long standing ovation. This kind of appreciation, makes us Indians, feel very proud and indicates the acceptance of Yoga by mankind. 

Our society today, particularly our youth, is afflicted with a number of ailments. The incidence of Cancer, Malaria and other diseases is extremely high in Mizoram. The problems of modern lifestyle are well known.  Incidence of stress related ailments, lifestyle related diseases like diabetes and hyper- tension have increased manifold in recent times. These diseases not only affect our productivity, but significantly impinge on our livelihoods and earnings. Also, quite alarmingly, our young people for one reason or another are taking refuge in drugs and alcohol. As a society, we must be extremely conscious and indeed concerned, at the manner in which our youth are falling prey to these ailments and addictions. 

In Mizoram, we really value and cherish our community activities. Our closely knit social fabric, familial relations, the tremendous social work done by the Church, NGOs and civil society, stand testament to the solidarity and unity in our society. The practice of Yoga is gaining in popularity and has the potential to become a community activity.  It will also allow people to come together, spend quality time enhancing their mental and physical well being. I am confident that once the practice of Yoga catches on, it will have a cascading effect and will result in drastic reduction in the expenditure on healthcare, thereby, also reducing the pressure on our healthcare support systems. Better health would quite obviously lead to increased productivity and overall prosperity. Let us not allow our unfounded apprehensions hold to ransom this wonderful opportunity. I would urge everyone to voluntarily try Yoga. 

Here, I find it appropriate to mention that those who have not been introduced to Yoga and are unaware of the basic tenets of the ancient science, should utilize this occasion as an opportunity to understand the science. Yoga must be delinked from the religious connotations that have been unwittingly ascribed to it because in reality there is nothing in Yoga that threatens one’s religious beliefs. It is just a form of disciplined exercise or regimen for the complete strengthening of the body and mind by synchronizing the bodily functions.

I have been practicing Yoga for many years now and I have found it to be extremely energizing and refreshing.  So my suggestion to those who have apprehensions about Yoga would be, to take a positive step forward trying it out and realising yourselves the health benefits of this widely popular form of exercise. I have a feeling that once we try and understand the spirit of this exercise, many misconceptions and doubts would be dispelled.  It is an invaluable gift of ancient Indian tradition which embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature and a holistic approach to health and well being. 

My dream is to see a ‘Healthy Mizoram’! The Yoga Day should not be a one-off affair, but should be just the first step to a healthier society. Through the universal ideals of Yoga, we must aim to create a prosperous Mizoram. We must also objectively look at ancient Indian systems of Medicine, which include Yoga and Naturopathy. I have learnt that the Department of AYUSH and Government of Mizoram have been proactively working on strategies to promote ancient systems of medicines and innovative remedies to many diseases which affect our society today. I heartily congratulate the Army, Assam Rifles and Central Armed Police Forces for their contribution in the conduct of this event.  I commend them for the effort they have put in for making this day a success. 

Let the International Day of Yoga be a day, when we all pledge to create a Healthy Mizoram.  

 Ka Lawm e !, Thank you! 

Jai Hind!