Yoga, winter sports boost India-Slovenia ties

New Delhi, March 30: India and the tiny Central European republic of Slovenia are warming to each other with Slovenians eagerly taking to yoga and ayurveda and India taking the Balkan nation’s help to boost its winter sports infrastructure, says a visisting Slovenian official.

“There are around 30 yoga centres in Slovenia (a splinter country from the former Yugoslavia) and around 10,000 people regularly practice yoga,” Gregor Kos told IANS in an interview during a short visit to India.

“That is a big number given that the population of Slovenia is only about two million,” he added.

Kos, who is the acting secretary general in Slovenia’s ministry of education, science and sport, was here to attend the India-Central Europe Business Forum (ICEBF), a major business event organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) March 27-28.

During the course of his visit, he also met officials of the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) here to explore more possibilities of promoting yoga and ayurveda in his country.

“At AYUSH, we are discussing the possibility of signing an agreement between India and Slovenia on ayurveda and yoga. The idea is to ensure quality control,” Kos said .

A person having strong links with India, he said India is increasingly gaining in appeal among Slovenians, many of whom are seeking to recapture the erstwhile warm ties in the sixties between India and the undivided Yugoslavia when Jawaharlal Nehru and Marshal Josip Broz Tito were founders of the Non-Aligned Movement.

“In 2004, we established the India-Slovenia Friendship Association (ISFA) in (Slovenia’s capital) Ljubljana with the aim of promoting Indian culture, cuisine, habits and wisdom,” Kos, who has been a strict vegetarian for 20 years now because of his belief in the Indian philosophy of ahimsa, said.

“It (ISFA) was quite a new thing then as there was no Indian embassy then.”

Things are now looking up with the posting of Sarvajit Chakravarti as India’s Ambassador to Slovenia whom Kos described as “the best ambassador India can have in Europe”.

This apart, the International Centre for Public Enterprises (ICPE) in Ljubljana will be starting a course in Hindi within two weeks’ time. “ICPE is the only international organisation with headquarters in Slovenia. It was established in the then Yugoslavia in collaboration between India and Yugoslavia,” Kos said.

“Now, with the new wave of relations between India and Slovenia, more efforts are being made to enhance bilateral trade. The ICPE was established mainly to promote public sector companies which are way too neglected,” he added.

India, on its part, is actively taking the help of Slovenia to boost its winter sports infrastructure.

India’s department of sports is taking the help of Slovenian expertise to make the South Asian nation a new skiing destination, Kos said, adding that he met Omkar Kedia, joint secretary in the sports department, in the course of his visit here.

“India has all natural potential (for winter sports). But it has to develop the infrastructure.”

There is also the possibility of cooperation in the area of sports medicine and exchange of trainers and coaches.

“All these will be explained by (Slovenia’s) Minister of Education, Science and Sports Jernej Pikalo when he comes to India in November this year to attend the CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) Knowledge Expo,” Kos stated.

(Aroonim Bhuyan can be contacted at aroonim.b@ians.in)

IANS