Sadhguru Clarifies His Stand on the Sterlite Issue
Q: Why is it that you commented about the closing of Sterlite first, rather than the death of the youths on the street? Isn’t that insensitive?
Sadhguru: The young lives being lost on the streets of Tuticorin was the first thing I mentioned. I was outside the country when I saw a few pictures of the protest where vehicles were burning. When I came back and enquired, I found out that thirteen people were killed on the streets. That was shocking for me. That is why I responded. It is not for the loss of a company that I responded. Unfortunately, people are always looking for controversies and trying to make political capital out of the blood on the streets.
Let me repeat my stand on this. The sitting government of the day cleared all the no-objection certificates and sanctioned an industry. Then the industry starts. Now people tell me there are serious pollution issues. I don’t know all the details about the kind of pollution, but if there is pollution, aren’t there people who are responsible for licensing these industries? If the industry is not fit to be here because of its pollution violations or whatever else, action should have been taken even without the protest. Why should there have to be protests for action to be taken?
If an elected government is not responding to the people’s needs, where should you put pressure? With the policy makers who can change the policy. If somebody is flouting laws, it is the business of the government to take care of that. That did not happen, I don’t know why. There is an investigation going on. Let the investigation results come through and let’s see what comes out of it.
Q: So who is at fault here for the death of these thirteen people?
Sadhguru: Why did our youth die on the streets? Simply because we are not handling our laws properly. We are not using the democratic process and legal system properly. Why are our youth dying on the streets? Dying for the country should have ended in 1947. Why are we trying to address the nation’s problems on the streets?
If we get thousands of people emotionally charged and on the street, things will go out of control. When things go out of control, such tragic things will begin to happen. I do not know the exact details of how the firing happened. There is an investigation going on and I don’t want to preempt that and say something I do not know about, but I am asking, why do we create such situations? Why are we addressing issues in this way? Isn’t there a better way to address them?
Across the country, this trend of protesting on the streets is coming in. This is not the way to go about it. If we think we are going to solve the problems of this country with bullets, then we are up for real surprises. It is very important we understand that we have to address the nation’s problems as a law-abiding nation.
Q: Baba Ramdev also spoke about this issue after meeting Vedanta’s Anil Agarwal. Did you coordinate with him on this? Do you also support Vedanta?
Sadhguru: I do not support Vedanta. In fact, until a few days ago, I was not even aware that Sterlite was a Vedanta company. I made a comment on this only because a television anchor asked me a question. As I said, I saw pictures of buses burning. I think infrastructure is very precious in this country because for 1.3 billon people, we don’t have enough of anything. Above all, thirteen young lives were lost. That is when I said, “This is not the way to handle it.”
It seems that two days later, Baba Ramdev made a comment. I have nothing to do with what he has said or why he said it. But what I am saying is, let us not take the country back to a pre-1947 situation where we are always protesting against somebody. Back then, we were always trying to sabotage everything in the country because somebody else was ruling us. But this is our country now. We are a free nation. All of us should strive to build this country, not continuously dislocate the country.
Q: Are you saying people don’t have the right to protest?
Sadhguru: We have the right to protest but we don’t have the right to burn something because when you burn public property, you are burning my property also. Let us not handle the country this way. This is twenty-first century Bharat. This is our time. We must find solutions in a civil manner. The investigations must clearly look at who caused these problems, because people who believe in anarchy and cause arson wherever they get the opportunity must be dealt with.
Q: You are saying there are better ways to handle these issues. How? Who should make this decision of economic development versus people’s concerns?
Sadhguru: There are sufficient responsible agencies in the country to make these decisions. We just have to ensure they are not politically motivated in taking decisions. Responsible citizens should take this up and see that agencies don’t decide these things on political push and pull, but on the genuine interest of the people.
I want to remind you that when we say, “economy”, people think it is about some corporates. No. Economy is about the people – the over 400 million people in this country who have still not eaten properly. India’s industry and business should thrive because if it thrives, it is good for the people. It means thousands of jobs and livelihoods. If you send a message out in the world that after you make huge investments in India, there is no security, does it bode well for us when the country is striving to get onto its economic legs?
In this nation, sixty percent of the people are still not getting to eat what they need to eat to do the work they have to do. The worker is not eating what he has to eat to go and do that hard work. The pregnant woman is not eating what she needs to eat to produce a healthy baby. The child is not eating what he has to eat to go to school and be able to learn something. This is the fate of this country right now. My heart burns that in our generation, before we are gone, we have to make sure this is transformed. If this has to happen, we know we need successful businesses in the country. We don’t need burning of buses and shooting of people on the street.
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