By Vijay Dwivedi
Over the past two weeks, the ‘liberals’ and the Lutyen media have erupted with a new issue of how the Art of Living organization is violating environmental norms in the organization of the World Culture Festival (WCF) – the charges are serious. Some feel the ecosystem around the Yamuna banks will be adversely affected. Some others remark how the river Yamuna will become a relic of the past. But the moot question is: can a river which has survived human apathy and neglect over several decades be impacted by a three-day event?
I no longer see any distinction between the ‘liberals’ protesting against the WCF and the ‘Award Wapasi’ brigade. Media has shown us repeatedly how they can come together as a pack to concoct a mountain out of a molehill and then, suddenly withdraw, again as a pack, once their objective is achieved. As soon as the event starts, all this cacophony will get buried alongside the newfound love for Yamuna and the same channels will start beaming live visuals of the WCF.
If this happens, it will be a re-run of the ‘India against Corruption’ movement where the same media though sympathetic to the powers that be, slandered Anna Hazare in their boardroom but were forced to talk respectfully about him in their 9 pm shows. In a recent Twitter outburst, Rahul Kanwal wanted the WCF to be staged at another venue. A sensible man with a guest-list of about 100 people will not prefer to change his marriage venue but here’s a wise man wanting an event with 3.5 million attendees to be shifted to another stadium. How on earth can 3.5 million people be hosted in a stadium? But media ignorance in our country is legendary and unsurprising. Meanwhile, the onslaught and attack on Sri Sri should have been expected the moment Rajdeep Sardesai tweeted that the Nobel prize is at stake. The question that Rajdeep and his ilk must answer is: What makes Mother Teresa most eligible for a Nobel peace prize?
Despite media hyperventilation leading to event publicity, one can’t take credit away from the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The NGT has almost NAC-like origins and must have been inspired by the ‘powerful’ lady of that time Sonia Gandhi. What prevented the NGT from taking cognizance of new habitats mushrooming in the flood plains of Yamuna? The NGT did not meddle with any of these settlements due to political sensitivity attached to such settlements. What prevented NGT from taking cognizance of the 17 big drains which continue to flow into the Yamuna unfettered? Back in 2010, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar not only took a boat ride across the Yamuna, but also cleaned the garbage along with thousands of volunteers and also demanded the closure of these drains. But in the world of left espoused liberalism, past credentials of someone like Sri Sri do not matter.
Amid all this external noise, the Art of Living organization and its founder, Sri Sri will still go ahead with one of the most elaborate events ever witnessed. Notwithstanding the attempts of the media to brand this event as a private affair, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India and the Delhi government are working together to make this event a mega success.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to his credit has played an active role in, to name a few, public, social and spiritual domains, for the past 35 years. In 2010, he launched the “Meri Dilli, Meri Yamuna” program to save the river, whose projected demise he is currently being held responsible for. This program was launched to clean the Yamuna river before the Commonwealth Games. Post the Commonwealth Games, a massive corruption scandal linked to this event was exposed, in which the then government was found to be complicit. Sri Sri and his organization again took up the cudgels and protested against the corruption. This was much before the start of the ‘India against Corruption’ movement. Later, he along with Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev, Kiran Bedi and other notable personalities initiated the India against Corruption movement.
I am sure the year and a half long movement, in which millions of his followers participated and made it hugely grand did not go down well with the then establishment. In the process, Sri Sri was not only displeasing the then dispensation but a lot of others who rode the gravy train. In politer terms, I would like to call all of them ‘ecosystem’. The ecosystem did not take kindly to a gentleman from down south challenging its status quo. The author is privy to multiple instances wherein the ‘ecosystem’ attempted to reign in the Art of living Guru and his organization with crude use of state powers. Each and every time, Sri Sri and the Art of Living organization emerged unblemished due to the impeccable transparency with which they operate.
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