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Sadguru’s Romance with the Idea of Climate Change

As this ‘Rally for Rivers’ campaign gains huge publicity, the kind of policy it is aiming at still remains unclear.

On September 3, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev has flagged off a campaign – Rally for Rivers, claiming to raise awareness on India’s depleting rivers. Although the announced purpose suggests a genuine cause, the irony is that the campaign is sponsored by Adani, Ambani and tens of other corporate giant groups. In Australia, Adani Group is accused of causing dangers to the environment. Adani’s Carmichael Coalmine(1) is facing a petition filed by a group of Australian farmers concerned about the damaging affects the mines would have on climate change.

It should not to be forgotten that Sadguru himself is facing a writ petition in Madras High Court for alleged illegal buildings and structures constructed by his Isha Foundation in and around Ikkarai Bolluvanpatty village, Coimbatore district. Apart from this, National Green Tribunal(2) earlier issued notices to Isha Foundation for seeking explanations on the cultural extravaganzas being conducted in the zone of the forest where the foundation is located. The case is still pending with the tribunal.

Apart from the support of Corporate giants, the “new age” yoga guru has a huge following among politicians, prominent persons and celebrities.

Earlier this year in February, an Isha Foundation event called for “consecration” of a 112 feet statue of “Adiyogi” (god Shiva), with Prime Minister Narendra Modi called as the chief guest to unveil the statue. In 2015, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N Chandra Babu Naidu allotted 400 acres of forest land to Isha Foundation in the new capital Amaravathi.

So far in this ongoing campaign, Jaggi Vasudev is driving a four wheeler to cover 16 states. In a press statement by Isha Foundation, it is said that Vasudev will be addressing more than 20 events in different cities.  The campaign is expected to culminate on October 2 in New Delhi. Addressing a gathering in Kerala, Vasudev said “this nationwide campaign is aimed at bringing a policy to revive the dying rivers in the country.”

In India, there are spiritual gurus for almost all classes. But the outreach of Vasudev is limited to upwardly mobile middle class. Any poor citizen in the country can’t even dare to buy the costly products on the foundation’s portal.

It is interesting that the “savior of rivers” Vasudev has never spoken a word on Narmada Bachao Andolan or on the displacement of a massive number of people caused by huge projects on rivers. As it is already clear that he backs the support of NDA government, it should be seen in future whether he would ever remind our Prime Minister about his promise made before 2014 general elections to clean up the River Ganga by 2019.

As this ‘Rally for Rivers’ campaign gains huge publicity, the kind of policy it is aiming at still remains unclear. But this campaign will surely help Isha foundation to expand its branches.




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