India tells bureaucrats to stretch with yoga-loving PM

Modi, an avid yoga fan, will lead an expected 35,000 people at the outdoor session at 7am.

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He has already nixed their long lunches and complimentary golf club memberships. Now India's famously ascetic prime minister is seeking to whip the country's top bureaucrats into shape by making them join him for early-morning yoga.

Senior civil servants have received letters asking them to join a mass yoga session being led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi next month to mark a new international day celebrating the ancient Indian practice.

Modi, an avid yoga fan, will lead an expected 35,000 people at the outdoor session at 7am (2300 GMT) on June 21 in the heart of New Delhi.

"It'll be a 35-minute yoga demonstration programme led by the prime minister himself," a senior government official told AFP on the condition of anonymity.

He said the ministry in charge of yoga had sent training DVDs and booklets to government officials to help them perfect the yoga poses -- or asanas -- that will be performed on the day.

"If they practise every day for even 15-20 minutes, they will be ready for the big day," he said.

"It will be for their own benefit, it will be a good experience."

The United Nations last year proclaimed June 21 to be International Day of Yoga, following a proposal from Modi.

The prime minister, a vegetarian who practises yoga daily and credits his strict regime for his ability to work long hours on little sleep, said at the time he was "elated" by the decision.

Modi has cracked down on India's vast and notoriously inefficient bureaucracy since storming to power a year ago.

Perks such as membership of Delhi's oldest and most prestigious golf club have been cancelled, and civil servants are under pressure to start work on time.

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