Modi calls for ‘one earth, one family, one future’ at U.N. yoga event


United Nations (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led a celebration of International Yoga Day at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday and called on people “to join hands together to realize the goal of one earth, one family, one future.”

The United Nations in 2014 declared June 21 the International Day of Yoga, adopting a measure proposed by Modi.

“Let us use the power of yoga, not only to be healthy, happy, but also to be kind to ourselves and to each other,” Modi told a gathering of yoga devotees seated on yellow mats on the north lawn of U.N. headquarters by New York’s East River.

“Let us use the power of yoga to build bridges of friendship, a peaceful world, and a cleaner, greener and sustainable future,” he said.

Modi is in the United States for talks with President Joe Biden that the White House sees as bolstering “one of the defining partnerships of our age.”

Modi has been to the United States five times since becoming prime minister in 2014, but the trip will be his first with the full diplomatic status of a state visit, despite concerns over what is seen as a deteriorating human rights situation under his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

Modi is to head from New York to Washington for a private dinner with Biden on Wednesday evening, followed by talks at the White House and a state dinner on Thursday.

Before taking to the stage to speak on Wednesday, Modi paid his respects before a bust of Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi in the U.N. grounds.

Gandhi, who was born in 1869, played a key role in India’s fight for independence. He was assassinated by a Hindu radical on Jan. 30, 1948, just a few months after he led India to freedom from British rule through a nonviolent struggle.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered a video message to the yoga event, saying he wanted to “recognize Prime Minister Modi for all he has done to promote understanding of yoga and its many 

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