Spiritual guru Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev spoke to WION on a range of issues. In an exclusive conversation with WION's Sidharth MP Sadhguru said that the sustainable development of this country depends on putting an end to everything temporary and transient.
Here are excerpts from the conversation.
WION: How far have we come as far as the 'Rally for Rivers' initiative is concerned and how are we taking it forward from here?
Sadhguru: Rally for Rivers essentially was an awareness campaign and thanks to people of India, 162 million people endorsed their support. Because of the support, the Government took it up and within two and a half months, the policy recommendations that we made became official. Niti Aayog sent these recommendations for all 29 states. 4 states are already in an aggressive mode of implementation while other states are in different levels of debate and discussion.
WION: What is the 'Cauvery Calling' initiative all about?
Sadhguru: 'Cauvery Calling' is a different type of a project, we involve farmers, government and the larger society. Farmers shift to 1/3rd agro-forestry. We have converted 69,760 farmers in Tamil Nadu into agroforestry in last 18 years. In 5-7 years, farmers' income will increase anywhere between 300-800 per cent. Nearly 70,000 farmers are there like that. At the current rate of conversion of 3000-5000 farmers per year, it will take 80 to 100 years for 1/3rd of the land to come under agroforestry. Cauvery Calling is an effort to crush this 100-year possibility to a 12-year project. For this, we needed an incentive from the government for the farmers.
First 4 years, when they shift to agroforestry, there is a little bit of loss of revenue, for that we wanted a subsidy. We have been working on this for the last 2 years. Both governments gave a clear positive signal that they will bring about an economic incentive for farmers to move from regular farming to agroforestry.
Right now 42 per cent of agri land in Tamil Nadu has been declared as fallow land, most fertile land is declared fallow and moving towards desertification. If this has to change, we need to put organic content into the soil - leaves and animal waste. Right now we are looking at transforming the Cauvery basin. 1/3rd of it must come under some shade, so we need to plant 242 crore trees. That is a big number but the farmers are going to plant it. The government is giving subsidy for the transition for 4 years, now the challenge is to raise that many saplings. We are looking at crowd-sourcing the funds as it costs 42 rupees per sapling. We want to raise saplings on a war footing. We are training farmers to use this as an enterprise, if they grow healthy saplings we will buy back and use it for agroforestry purposes.
WION: There have been a lot of clamouring calls for river Interlinking across the country, how do you view the viability of the project?
Sadhguru: If it is done for flood mitigation for certain rivers in certain parts of the country it is ok, for small projects. Large scale projects of river interlinking will be a disaster for this nation because our rivers are not of that volume. In a tropical nation, if you try to transport water in open canals, the loss that happens due to evaporation and thirsty land which sucks it out. It is not a viable thing and even economically it is not viable. These are European and North American models, it can’t be implemented here as we have a different climate and soil condition. River linking on a large scale won’t work. If you need to transport water for human consumption, it has to happen in a closed pipeline, it cannot happen in an open canal.
Sadhguru: Look at the images of the burning Amazon and Central Africa, people are saying the rain forest is burning. But rainforest cannot burn, there is too much humidity in the rain forest for it to burn. These are forests where all timber has been removed, only undergrowth and few small trees are left and that is burning. Probably they want it to burn because they are trying to turn it into cow pastures. All those importing beef from Brazil must know if they need to grow that many beef cattle they need plains and grasslands. That’s what they are trying to do. Which is what every developed nation did in the past. If you want to save ecology and put forests back, eat sensibly. We are not eating sensible, our way of food consumption is ecologically too expensive. It is for beef cultivation that they are clearing the forest. Instead of just telling them don’t clear the forest, see the source and augment the nation. If not forestry put agroforestry back
WION: You were there at ISRO, Sriharikota watching Chandrayaan-2 launch, there’s barely a week to go for the moon landing now, your thoughts?
Sadhguru: Its an exciting moment for India, fantastic for Indian scientists. Meeting leaders and scientists of ISRO has been an eye-opener for me. The general image of most government-related institutions is that they don’t perform. This is a phenomenal example of an organization functioning. It is not just about landing on the Moon, its the way they are operating, the passion, involvement, the cost at which it is being done. When I walk into ISRO, I have tears in my eyes; looking at these people, as simple as they seem, as brilliant as they are, what they are doing is fantastic. It is a great pride of the nation, our nation has so many problems and issues to settle, but ISRO is a bright spot for India.
Sadhguru: I am no expert in constitutional matters. Every Indian, mainly the youth, our next generation should know which is India, which is not India. If I think this is my chair on which you are sitting unnecessarily, I get worked up. Tell me clearly if this is my chair or not. Why keep this in suspense? When they wrote the article, they clearly said it is temporary and transient. Please define to me, what is the idea of temporary and transient in this country. Are 72 years enough temporary, or do you want to wait for 700 years? If you make that clear for all the people of India and the soldiers who are dying on the borders, in this friction of not knowing which is what, like the families who are suffering. End everything temporary and transient if you are looking for sustainable development of this nation.
'Rainforest cannot burn, there is too much humidity in the rain forest for it to burn. These are forests where all timber has been removed,' Sadhguru commented on Amazon fires.