oppn parties Sri Sri: Defending the Indefensible

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  • In reply to a question in Parliament, the government says it is empowered to lawfully intercept, monitor or decrpyt information stored in a computer resource in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of India
  • Police stop a 12-year old girl on her way to the Sabarimala shrine
  • In Karnataka, the JD(S) indicates that it might support the BJP government if it falls short of numbers after the bypolls
  • Congress pips the BJP in local body elections in Rajasthan, winning 961 wards to the BJPs 737
  • After Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, Jio also indicates that tariffs will be raised from December
  • Sources in Shiv Sena say that they might revive the alliance with the BJP if it offers the 50:50 deal
  • A miffed Sanjay Rout of the Shiv Sena says that it will take "100 births" to understand Sharad Pawar
  • Mobile operators Vodafone-Idea and Airtel decide to raise tariffs from next month
  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
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Sri Sri: Defending the Indefensible

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Making the Yamuna flood plains a huge stage for the Sri Sri cultural event was a big mistake. The NGT has already taken most government agencies involved in granting the licenses to task. It has felt helpless to prevent the event as when the case came up to it, the damage was already done. But one feels that regardless of the advanced state of preparations, NGT should have disallowed the event as an exemplary punishment for the flouting of norms. It would have sent a big signal to other celebrities and cash-rich charities or corporations that money and connections cannot always make them do whatever they feel like.

The attitude of Sri Sri Ravishankar and his team has been most dismaying. They have all along maintained that no rules were flouted and no damage has been done to the environment. Rules have not been flouted if one considers the permissions given by all the bodies that were supposedly mandated to protect the area. But without doubt the permissions were given only because Sri Sri was involved. They would not have been given to an ordinary citizen. The very fact that the permissions were given means rules were flouted, as rightly pointed out by the NGT. As for the Sri Sri contention that no damage has been done to the area, neither he nor anyone in his team are environment experts and hence they are not qualified to assess the damage caused. People qualified in this matter have said that it will take several years and lots of money – much more than the Rs 5 crore penalty levied on Art of Living – to repair the damage and we have to take their word for it.

As for the initial response of Sri Sri that he will go to jail but will not pay the penalty, it was something unbecoming of a person of his stature, again as rightly pointed out by the NGT. This just went on to show that he has no respect for the country’s laws and its legal process. It also meant that he was using his stature to put pressure on the court to either reduce the amount or waive it off as he knew that he would not be arrested. The statement by Sri Sri lowered his esteem.

Minister Venkaiah Naidu needs to understand that not all people who are opposing the event are doing so because it is a Hindu/Bharatiya event. He might not harbor a concern for the environment but there are millions of Indians who do and they do not like it when such large scale damage is being done to a protected area. Then, there are others who also do not like the way rules were flouted for a celebrated guru and Hinduism has nothing to do with this. People would have protested even if it was a sporting event. Why choose a place that is fragile when there are hundreds of other places where the event could have been held? Let Naidu reflect on this and come up with a good answer.