The widely publicized Rally for Rivers organized by Sadhguru’s Isha Foundation in October this year, following which it sent a draft recommendation on revitalizing our dying rivers to Prime Minister rendra Modi, has now prompted the Centre to set up a group under the Niti Aayog CEO (the new avatar of the erstwhile Planning Commission) to examine the suggestions in detail and work out an action plan. But first thing first. Readers may wonder what is so great about Sadhguru’s Isha Foundation and its Rally for Rivers. Sadhguru, whose actual me is Jaggi Vasudev, is an intertiolly celebrated Indian realized yogi, mystic and visiory who has been invited to major intertiol forums and conferences such as the UN Millennium World Peace Summit in 2000 and the World Economic Forum in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. A recipient of Padma Vibhusan this year for his contribution to spirituality, he was also conferred the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar in 2010 for his environmental initiatives. A global promoter of yoga with a huge following, he is the founder of the Isha Yoga Centre in Coimbatore and the Isha Institute of Inner-sciences in the US, with the latter devoted primarily to the cause of what he calls “inner engineering” for the uplift of one’s consciousness and furtherance of self-awareness for overall physical, mental and spiritual well-being. His highly acclaimed book Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy became the bestseller in the list prepared by The Washington Post and The New York Times, with the book tour in North America including 19 cities. A leading author of bestselling books on spirituality pertaining to yoga, self-awareness and overall well-being – all of which appeal to all faiths and are based on one’s practical journey in the cosmos of spirituality with a solid foundation on scientific approaches – Sadhguru, as he is popularly known as, has been described by The Huffington Post review as an author whose books are full of “practical tools to begin one’s self-transformation journey”. Therefore, he is no ordiry spiritual thinker and opinion leader.
Rally for Rivers Roadmap
The Isha Foundation, centred at Coimbatore as well as at the Isha Institute of Inner-sciences in the US, is a non-profit organization working in the field of social outreach, education and environmental initiatives. It launched the Rally for Rivers on September 3 this year to spread awareness among the masses about the conditions of our dying rivers and how to mitigate river sufferings. Sadhguru led a convoy across 16 of the affected States to spread mass awareness about our rivers and to buttress the point that a long-term tiol policy on rivers protection was in order with special focus on afforestation of river banks. It eventually had the foundation sit with scientists and lawmakers to frame a policy document on the vital issue, which the Centre has now decided to give a serious thought to and to evolve an action plan on. The main thrust of the Isha Foundation recommendation is planting of trees up to 1 km on both sides of a river so as to augment water supply to it. But this is a massive exercise. Nonetheless, the draft recommendation has examined how to accomplish the mission without affecting the livelihoods of people along rivers, considering the fact that about 75 % of land along rivers is agricultural land. In fact, Sadhguru has talked of a “successful commercial movement” for farmers in this regard. When asked whether the mission can succeed without participation by States as both water and agriculture are State subjects under the Constitution, he has said that his foundation has already signed five MoUs with five States. This is what he has told a leading Delhi-based metropolitan daily: “It’s like a commitment by the States to plant trees on government land. If you cannot do it on government land, how can you expect the farmers to go for plantation (switching from crop-based agriculture to tree-based agriculture) on their farm land?” Maharashtra has already announced its programme to plant 50 crore saplings over the next three years across the State, with the plan comprising two components: (1) State-wide afforestation covering both forest land and non-forest government land, and (2) creation of a movement to enhance the livelihoods of riverside farmers with the adoption of sustaible tree-based agriculture. This, as has been reported, is a precursor to a wider deployment in other States.
This brings us to the mighty Brahmaputra in Assam, now imperilled by the recently reported Chinese dam-building and water-diversion enterprises in the upper reaches of the river in Tibet. The depletion of its water volume and its unheard-of muddying has already raised alarm bells. How India deals with Chi is of course another matter in the context of the draft recommendation we have talked about. What is of significance is that considering the heavy dependence of a huge population of the Brahmaputra basin on the river which now faces threats of hydrological kind especially in view of the changes in the normal run-off volume and the quality of its water, and also considering the astounding biodiversity that this river helps make, it would be a prudent idea for the Sarbanda Sonowal government to knuckle down and wake up to the afforestation call of the Isha Foundation. Like the five States of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Kartaka and Gujarat, how about Assam too, under a dispensation that calls itself progressive and pro-people as well as given to out-of-box thinking, holding talks with the Isha Foundation and perusing its draft recommendation independently towards securing the endangered Brahmaputra, apart of course the Barak which too needs urgent intervention for securing its water and the life it sustains in varied ways? After all, there is no gainsaying that afforestation even otherwise is a crying need now. Far greener we are than what ture has already blessed us with but which we have played havoc with for our selfish interests, the more prosperous we become in beautiful ways.