A few days ago, a friend called to say that the “Rally for Rivers” campaign by Jaggi Vasudev aka Sadhguru is actually advocating interlinking of rivers, a controversial and ill-advised engineering intervention that is environmentally, socially and financially fraught. Having read Jaggi’s banal writings on the campaign, I pointed out to him that the campaign openly advocates against inter-linking of rivers.
While Jaggi’s campaign warns against river interlinking, I am no longer certain that the man means what he says.
What the campaign advocates is like Jaggi’s writings — banal. Plant trees on either side of the river. Right!! In Jaggi’s campaign, there are no adversaries. The fight is reduced to a conflict between body and soul, an internal imbalance in imperfect human beings that if corrected with the power of yoga will unleash goodness that will heal the world.
If you’re waiting for Jaggi to transform India’s rivers, don’t hold your breath. In Jaggi’s world, there are no strangers. Only friends that haven’t met. Also, there are no bad things that have to be stopped — like dams on rivers, the Ken-Betwa interlinking that will drown a tiger habitat, or the indiscriminate pollution from coal mines and coal power plants operated by his partners in this campaign. All these bad things can be cured by doing just one good thing — planting trees.
Tree planting is over-hyped as an environmental good. If rivers are to be revived, it is not just trees that do the most good, but grasses, shrubs, aquatic vegetation, and hardy floodplain plants that can withstand and even thrive in intense flooding. But who needs nuance when we can solve the world’s problems by planting a few trees here, cutting a few trees there?
The alien-green Mercedes is not the only inconsistency in the campaign’s message of sustainability. Here are a few other inconsistencies from the “Our Partners” section in the Rally for Rivers campaign page in the self-professed #Sadhguru‘s website
A for Adani — you know whose daddy this is.
A for Apollo
A for Airtel
B for BigFM — also part of R for Reliance (also daddy of you know who)
C for CII aka Confederation of Indian Industries (Association of Big Daddies)
D for Dainik Bhaskar — India’s of the largest newspaper houses, recent entrant to real estate and coal-fired power generation in Chattisgarh
F for Fever FM (HT Media)
G for GMR Group — Sponsoring all the good things despite being Rs. 43,439 crores in debt
M for Mahindra — headed by Keshub Mahindra, currently on bail after being convicted for his role in the Union Carbide Bhopal gas disaster.
N for Network18 — owned and operated by Reliance Industries. Daddy returns
O for ONGC — Oh? Kathiramangalam. . . Water Pollution.
P for PVR Cinema
R for RedFM — part of Maran Brothers’ Sun Network.
S for Star (Rupert Murdoch, 21st Century Fox)
T for Times of India — the company that made the newspaper a product
V for Viacom 18 — a joint venture between American billionaire Sumner Redstone’s Viacom media conglomerate and Reliance Industries.
Z for Zee Entertainment