Thursday, October 27, 2011

Digvijay Singh and the Art of Living

When I asked my hockey coach in school why I was never allowed to play the big matches, he told me that I was confused about which side I was playing on. It took me well into adulthood to get this fixed. Looks like Digvijaya Singh has a similar problem. After Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare, he has now accused Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of being an RSS sponsored ploy to destabilize the government. The way certain politicians are reacting to any and all observations about the corrupt system that they have spawned tells me that he would not have got a chance in the hockey team either. But, good for him, he seems to have got himself an invite to take an Art of Living course.

There are a couple of important issues here, regardless of where Sri (sri sri) Ravi Shankar's sponsorship comes from. The one trait that all of these "protesting" people have is a leaning towards spirituality and value based leadership. Their values, lifestyles, and beliefs are all out in the open. They do not need a political or a marketing machinery to attract the crowds. The news that they are visiting town is usually enough to fill a stadium.

Similarly, the respect that people like Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal command is entirely based on the tangible work they have done in their lives, and on their public conduct. These are all people that the nation looks up to and respects. And in rather large numbers.


It is sad that the same cannot be sad of some of most senior politicians in the political system, irrespective of affiliation to any ideology. People have to be paid to show up at political meetings. Local leaders curry favors by promising a few thousand attendees whenever a rally is held for a higher up. The common perception of politicians is inextricably linked with corruption, strong arm tactics and ill-gotten wealth.

The few politicians who commanded respect at any point in time have either backed out of the system or have succumbed to it. The rare upright politicians who stay on in the system get slapped around in public by hooligans who claim to represent a people's aspiration.

The only thing that I see coming from these repeated attempts to link the civil society's anger and frustration to an RSS ploy is to make the right wing outfit seem more of an acceptable alternative to the arrogant and indifferent public servants that we have elected. Like the boy who cried wolf, the repeated cries of RSS only ends up diluting the need to be wary of extreme right wing reactionary tendencies. In my opinion, this is worrisome. The fact that all the leaders of the civil society movement against corruption have a generally Hindu tag to them is also worrisome. And this is precisely what the politicians in power are trying to take advantage of. The danger here is that they are probably ending up scoring a goal against their own side.

The long haired man from Art of Living is much kinder than Anna Hazare in his response to this allegation of being called the Plan C of the RSS.  Instead of suggesting that the accuser be sent to a mental asylum, he has instead offered them a seat on the next yoga program he conducts. I truly hope the senior members of the government take up Sri Sri (why does he have so many sri's in his name?) Ravi Shankar's invitation to explore the Art of Living program. Not only will the yoga help free their bodies and minds, but the hyperventilation of a good long session of Kriya might actually stop them from seeing the RSS everywhere. Digvijaya Singh might actually be doing the opposition a favor if he manages to find a place on the hockey team.

Disclaimer: I have high regard for Sri Sri (Sri) Ravi Shankar and his mirth, Anna Hazare and his naivete, and much of what Baba Ramdev teaches in the name of Yog(a). It is not just likely that my views about politicians who vilify them is biased due to this high regard but absolutely certain. The reader is advised to exercise his own discretion and keep an open mind about the fact that the future of our society might really be better off in the hands of career politicians. In the absence of the ability to exercise such discretion, please contact your nearest Art of Living or Baba Ramdev center and enroll in a program as soon as possible.

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