‘MyEn­gage­men­twith River­sisNotA­ca­demic orS­ci­en­tificbutIKnow HowTheyBe­have’

The Economic Times - - Saturday Feature -

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.

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