With an increasing number of foreigners looking forward to learn yoga in India, the government has decided that non-resident Indians (NRIs) and tourists can now attend short-term yoga programmes using tourist and e-tourist visas.
Moreover, those who want to undergo short-duration medical treatment under Indian systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Naturopathy and Homoeopathy can now just take an e-tourist visa and go ahead with their therapy.
The decision was taken by the ministry of home affairs on Thursday. The ministry said in a press statement that realizing the spread and importance of yoga the world over, the government has decided to include “attending a short term yoga programme” in the list of permissible activities under a tourist visa. Besides, the government has decided to include “attending a short term yoga programme” and “short duration medical treatment under Indian systems of medicine” in the list of permissible activities under e-tourist visa. The ministry further said that all Indian Missions abroad and Foreigners Regional Registration Officers in the country have been issued orders regarding the amendment.
A senior official from the ministry of Ayush, responsible for events and institutions practising yoga and Indian systems of medicine, said, “In India we have 18 universities and 50 colleges offering different kinds of yoga diplomas and short-term courses. The tourists just need to give details on what course it is and which institute they would be learning at to go ahead with the visa.” He added that private institutions, non-profits and religious organisations organising yoga shivirs or camps would also fall under the purview of this visa category. He added that these short-term courses or treatment could be maximum for three months and could be extended to six months depending on the case.
According to Ayush officials, the move will also help promote International Yoga Day on 21 June, when a lot of institutions across India are holding a free one-month yoga camp. These institutions have been granted permission by the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN), an autonomous body under Ayush.
Recently, the UN had declared 21 June as the International Yoga Day with the support of around 177 countries. This will propel the popularity and propagation of yoga to a great extent. Yoga is practised widely across the globe. Nearly 20 million people practise yoga in the US alone and this trend is further growing. In a few countries, yoga has even been incorporated in the school curriculum.