Dear Faultfinders of World Culture Festival, Ignorance Ain’t Bliss!

Drumrolls, please!
It’s unbelievable but it’s true. A new river has been discovered in the national capital of India. A team of ardent environmentalists from a few NGOs and an expert member body of National Green Tribunal have found a ‘new’ river in New Delhi. And suddenly all the less-informed people are talking about how The Art of Living’s World Culture Festival is going to plunder the ‘delicate ecological balance of River Yamuna’.
If River Yamuna could speak, she’d quite possibly be asking these zealous environmental crusaders, ‘Where were you all these years?’
River Yamuna, circa 2014
River Yamuna, circa 2014
Sitting pretty amongst the topmost polluted rivers of India, River Yamuna has seen much chest thumping and money grubbing in her name in the past two decades. Not to mention, the situation of this revered river has been much politicized. The Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) initiated by the Government of India in 1993 has been a major failure to say the least. Oh and the tax payers would be glad to know that more than Rs. 6500 crores (~1 billion US dollars) of their money has been spent on cleaning Yamuna YET (un)surprisingly after 2 decades, River Yamuna is more toxic than ever.
Now self-righteous people may argue, okay we get it. Yamuna is polluted, but why should Art of Living destroy it further?
To answer this biased and logically unsound question, let’s look at it from these angles:
1. The entire 3-day event is being conducted using makeshift structures, made with the help from the Indian Army. These structures would be dismantled as soon as the event is completed. As much as possible, only biodegradable materials will be used during the event and not a single bag of cement has been used in the contruction anywhere.
2. ‘Meri Dilli, Meri Yamuna’ was a successful and purely volunteer driven cleanliness drive initiated by Sri Sri during the commonwealth games in 2010 . Someone who has been a genuine protector of environment and never demanded acknowledgement for the same is now being blamed for destroying the ecosystem of Yamuna! How ironical!
3. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar cares deeply for the environment and has funded and initiated several projects to protect, improve and beautify the environment. For all those who think he’s a rich man’s Guru should take a look at all the rural development, women empowerment, education projects, disaster relief work, and environmental projects that Art of Living has undertaken to uplift millions of people all over the world.
4. After the World Culture Festival, the floodplains of Yamuna will be converted into a biodiversity park by The Art of Living foundation, as promised by Sri Sri. For all those who know him even a little bit, know that if he’s given his word it is bound to happen.
5. The Art of Living Foundation has been working to revive more than 16 rivers all across India – Kumudvathi in Bengaluru, Vena River in Nagpur, Rena River in Latur, Maharashtra and so many more.
6. It’s a sad state of affairs in our country when people are confused and doubtful about the crimes of Afzal Guru but are confident in their opposition of a spiritual leader who has served the world for over 35 years. The free programs of Art of Living program has helped prisoners, red light workers, tribal people, slum dwellers and so many other neglected sections of the society.
7. The World Culture festival is a celebration of human values and when was the last time such an event was held in India on such a large scale, with such a diverse crowd from across the world?
8. With just 2 days to go for the event to start, why is all the hue and cry being made now? Where were these so-called environmentalists till now? Or were they too busy spending the tax payers’ money to wake up just in time to claim their 15 seconds of fame? Oh btw, Swatanter Kumar, Chief of NGTis already (in)famous for a sexual harassment case against him.
9. The critics can say a bunch of witty things using humour as a mask for their shaky logic or put forth their intelligent-sounding hollow arguments but pick each one of these critics individually and you’ll find them mudslinging unnecessarily since they have a lot of dirt in their own glass house.
This absurd headline actually cracked me up. Tell this smart guy, a bridge is not meant for partying. And also please ask him to refer a dictionary for the meaning of bridge when the stuff that he is smoking wears off.
The World Culture Festival is a coming together of 3.5 million people from 155 countries as diverse as Lithuania to Argentina, for a cultural and spiritual extravaganza, as a part of one-world family. It is a free-for-all event funded purely by donations from general public and corporate sponsorships.
We request the faultfinders to take a chill pill. Come and be a part of these celebrations with an open mind. Everyone is welcome. Let’s not be blind activists. Sri Sri is not a ‘Hindu’ Guru, don’t see him as a God-man. He is a just a human being with a sincere vision to better the society, something he’s been doing since the past 35 years without asking for recognition or rewards. If we’re not helping him, let’s not pull down his noble initiatives, shall we?
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Aparna Ghildiyal
I’m a true blue gypsy at heart. YES is my buzzword. Planning a travel adventure? You can always count me in. Treat me to good food, and you can be my friend forever. Fashion has been my guilty pleasure ever since I was a little girl who loved poring over the sparkling jewels and opulent gowns of Disney princesses. Keeping fit and showing love to my body is what keeps me feeling good. I LOVE those looooong discussions and stimulating experiences concerning spirituality, religion, and things beyond – the explorer in me is forever fascinated by these. A neuroscientist-turned-writer-turned-online marketer, my little 5-year-old career has seen me wearing multiple hats. In my world, there are no rules chiefly because I ain’t got no motivation to make or break ‘em.

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