‘MyEngagementwith RiversisNotAcademic orScientificbutIKnow HowTheyBehave’
The tragedy of humankind is that humans are no longer engaged with nature, spiritual leader
told while talking about his nationwide ‘Rally for Rivers’ campaign. He lauded the government’s measures aimed at checking tax evasion and combating corruption, which he said are akin to a mother rubbing clean the face of a child that has smeared its face with dirt. He also exhorted the Muslim community to support the government in its progressive steps. Edited excerpts:
Sadhguru Jaggi ET’s Vasudha Venugopal Your campaign ‘Rally for Rivers’ has found support from a variety of quarters, but has also been critiqued...
Right from my early years I have been close to mountains, rivers. Till the age of 17, I swam in the Cauvery every day, but today when I go to the same place I can walk across. Tears come to me when I see the Cauvery. Many years ago, from Bagamandla and Cauvery, I rafted on the river. I lived by it, on it. I became one with the river. I know how it behaves. My engagement with the river is not academic. I am not a scientist or an activist. The tragedy of humankind now is that we humans are not engaged with nature. We are always living in concrete blocks. When I see the rivers today, they are in such a bad state. Cauvery has been a source of life for Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It runs 170 km inland and 870 km in total, 430 km of it in Tamil Nadu. I told farmers recently, in 25 years they will have nothing to fight about. We as a generation of people have taken the largest bite of the planet. Our children will have nothing to eat. No generation has damaged the earth like we did. People don’t believe my ideas in the beginning. They need existing reality to take the next step. But I feel if we are capable of damaging something we should also be repairing it. You will see if you do a little bit of compensatory activity, nature will catch up and do the rest. I articulated this to the closest around me only two months ago. Even now people say the rally has taken off, but will it work. Human longing to create something should not be underestimated. That is the power of sankalp (resolution). People rolled their eyes when I decided to plant 114 million trees some years ago. I told them, if we all decide to plant one tree today and take care of it, and plant one more in two years, it is a done thing. The challenge is in getting everyone to do it. Today 32 million trees have been planted under the project. We increased the forest cover by 7.2 per cent. Tamil Nadu is the only place where green cover is growing.
What does your rally seek to achieve?
If 30 per cent of our diet is fruit, the health expenditure of the country can come down by 40 per cent. There is enough science for that. Nearly 60 per cent of fruits go wasted in India because we don’t have adequate food storage. Only 4 per cent of India’s diet is fruit. Both Megasthenes and Kautilya wrote about the high intake of fruit in the diet of Indians. Hiuen Tsang said the sharp intellect of Indians was because of the fruits they ate. What happened to that? What we want to achieve is to ensure at least 30 per cent of the diet of an Indian is made of fruits. It can start with the urban areas. Rural Indians will follow once availability is ensured. When you eat more fruits, your sleep quota comes down, your productivity goes up. When you are in a hospital in a country like ours, people get you fruits, not biryani, because eating fruits means you are eating well. Farmers who shift to tree-based agriculture from cropbased agriculture are likely to earn three to eight times more depending on what land they work on. That is also the basis of the policy document we are working on. Major rivers run for 20,000 km and of this, 25-26 per cent is government owned that should become for- I travel everywhere. There is no insecurity on the streets. It comes only when people say some provocative things, and that has to stop. Yes, there have been some incidents, but we need to look at them as law and order issues. When a man is beaten, a man is beaten. Why should the media even report a Dalit is beaten or Muslim is beaten? No man should be beaten in our streets. Let’s not try to set one against the other. It is against the well-being of the country. Also, the Muslim community must understand that it is not in the interest of the community to stop every progressive step. The Muslim community should not be branded as Islamic State. The Muslim community in India should be conscious that it should not look parallel to ISIS elsewhere. They must be a progressive community. They should take care of their families and children and youth. Rather than taking a stand out of fear or political prejudices they must support the government in its attempt to throw out certain evils. Triple talaq, for instance, was just an obscenity that should have gone long back. It existed only because there was no political will to counter it.
Do you support the government’s measures on checking tax evasion and combating corruption?
After Independence we were in a situation of chaos. We let families and people do what they wanted. But we are a genuine economy now. We are looking at building internationally competent businesses and for that a lot of levelling has to be done. People outside the country think a lot of wheeling and dealing is done here and business is done properly. That has to change. For the first time a former ambassador has told the US congress that business is being done properly in India. This is a big thing. This shows the order has changed. The country is like a child that has smeared its face with dirt and the government is doing what a mother does – rub it really clean.