The $73 million India spent on Mangalyaan is hardly snatching food from the mouths of starving babies. Two months ago, the government signed into law the Food Security Bill, which will provide roughly 800 million Indians with subsidized food and cost just under an estimated $20 billion every year. Whether you think that the bill is an outstanding piece of humanitarian legislation or a colossal scam that will only enrich middlemen and bureaucrats, it is impossible to argue that Indian government is splashing out on sexy space rockets at the expense of the poor. Mangalyaan costs less than 0.4% of the bill’s annual budget.
Questioning a poor country’s decision to launch a space program also implicitly ignores the fact that rich countries have poor people too. In 1962, President John F Kennedy declared to Americans that “we choose to go to the moon.” That year, 38.6 million Americans, or 21% of the nation, lived below the poverty line. Last year, it was still 15%.
One group, the Hindu American Foundation, has launched a “Take Back Yoga” campaign to address what they see as a fundamental disconnect between yoga and Hinduism.
Sheetal Shah, senior director at the foundation, says the group started the campaign when it noticed that while “Vedic,” “tantric” and many other words appeared regularly in yoga magazines, the word “Hindu” was never mentioned.
So, the foundation called up one of the country’s most popular magazines to ask why.
“They said the word ‘Hinduism’ has a lot of baggage,” Shah says. “And we were like, ‘Excuse me?’ “
Shah says she understands why some people have a problem with linking yoga and Hinduism. Many American practitioners associate the practice with something pure and serene, she says. But when they think of Hinduism, she says, they think of “multiple gods, with multiple heads and multiple arms. Colorful [and] ritualistic.”
It may be difficult for people to see how these things fit together, Shah says.
With the Take Back Yoga campaign, the Hindu American Foundation is hoping for broader acknowledgment that yoga has Hindu philosophical roots — while also emphasizing that it is universal and appropriate for everyone.
“What we’re trying to say is that the holistic practice of yoga goes beyond just a couple of asanas [postures] on a mat. It is a lifestyle, and it’s a philosophy,” Shah says.
“How do you lead your life in terms of truthfulness? And nonviolence? And purity? The lifestyle aspect of yoga,” Shah says, “has been lost.”
"Colourful and ritualistic"?
No, no, you mean brown. Say it with me. “Many American practitioners associate the practice with something pure and serene, i.e., <I>not brown</i>.”
I mean I don’t disagree with the objective at all, but let us not tiptoe around the fact that lots of white people in America are quite racist.