Soft Power and Biopower: Narendra Modi’s “Double Discourse” Concerning Yoga for Climate Change and Self-Care

In this article, I will elucidate the Indian government’s two primary discourses concerning yoga since 2014 as right-wing Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu Nationalist political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have interacted with both international and domestic audiences. These discourses can be broadly grouped into two categories, or what I refer to as Modi and the BJP’s “double discourse”: (1) Yoga as a global soft power solution to counter the Global North’s climate change privilege on the international stage and (2) Yoga as biopower for the advancement of India’s depressed economy on the domestic front. Relying on yoga’s polyvalent character, Modi and the BJP are able to frame yoga in these two particular ways—which together signal their commitment to neoliberal economic ideology—by drawing from historical and contemporaneous precedents which I also outline in the article. I conclude with a brief visit to the preparations for the BJP’s 2019 International Day of Yoga, where this double discourse becomes most evident in the two divergent themes announced for the event.

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