The BJP government wants to spread the message of Hinduism under the garb of the World Culture Festival.
By Rakesh Raman
The Hindu government BJP headed by a Hindu Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India has ignored the advice of courts, environmentalists, and NGOs to support a shady Hindu festival.
Called ‘World Culture Festival,’ the three-day event beginning Friday is being organized by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation (AOLF).
But who is this Sri Sri Ravi Shankar? He is a self-styled religious leader who has great interest in Indian politics. One can see him hobnobbing with Indian politicians particularly Modi.
In a country where three-fourth of the population can’t afford three square meals a day and many die of hunger, this man is selling art of living and has created a huge empire.
The Modi government, it is said, has granted Rs 2.5 crore to AOLF, which is a private outfit. From the scale of the planned event, it appears that money worth millions of dollars will be spent on an extravaganza which has no real purpose. It is not known clearly from where the entire money has come.
And the government also allowed over 1,000 acres of green area between Delhi and Noida destroyed for the event which was described by the Delhi high court as an ecological disaster. The BJP government even deployed the Indian Army soldiers to build bridges for the private event.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT), which is established for effective and expeditious disposal of cases related to environmental protection, on Wednesday slapped a fine of Rs. 5 crores on AOLF but allowed the event to happen. Ravi Shankar has refused to pay the fine.
NGT’s order was based on pleas by NGOs and environmentalists who had demanded the cancellation of the event on the grounds that it will cause damage to the ecosystem around river Yamuna, as AOLF has destroyed a complete forestry to erect artificial structures.
The Delhi government headed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal failed in this case also to protect Delhi from the environmental hazard.
Kejriwal’s government is almost non-existent in Delhi while the people of Delhi have been suffering under his misrule.
The Modi government’s green light to the ‘World Culture Festival’ is another attempt by the RSS-monitored BJP government to make India a Hindu Rashtra (a nation only for Hindus). The government wants to spread the message of Hinduism under the garb of the cultural festival.
As Modi has been preaching during the past two year, the event has planned to organize yoga and meditation sessions and Sanskrit lectures. Who needs all this?
The Modi government is using Ravi Shankar’s AOLF as a frontal organization to pursue its agenda of making India a Hindu nation. In recognition of his services to BJP, in January this year, the government also honored Ravi Shankar with Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award.
One fails to understand Ravi Shankar’s contribution to the society that the government handpicked him for Padma Vibhushan. He is just another bearded man who calls himself a kind of sadhu – and you find such men in every corner of India. Strangely, this man hoodwinks the people by selling a happiness program while even the God finds it difficult to keep people happy.
But in India if you have a long beard, wear white robes, and are sufficiently close to BJP, you can project yourself as a Hindu God – like Ravi Shankar is doing.
His only strength is the clout he enjoys among the illiterate people who attend his events and who usually vote in Indian elections. That’s why BJP likes him.
The earlier similar attempts – such as the introduction of a Hindu exercise Yoga and the establishment of a Hindu culture in educational institutions – by the BJP government have failed miserably. ‘World Culture Festival’ is another shot in the dark.
Modi had planned to attend the event. But smelling the increasing controversy around it, he is likely to stay away from it.
You also can read: More Articles by the RMN Editor, Rakesh Raman