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On Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s views about government-run schools

March 21, 2012

This press statement comes via Kavita Srivastava; see full list if signatories at the end.

PRESS RELEASE

Jaipur, 21st March, 2012: We are shocked and strongly condemn the statement made by the Global Corporate Brand “Art of Living” businessman, Ravi Shankar in Jaipur on 20th March, 2012, wherein he states that “Government schools are breeding grounds of violence and Naxalism ….that is why Government run schools and colleges must be handed over to private bodies….and that ‘Adarsh schools’ must reach all areas”. We would like to demand evidence from Ravi Shankar that Government schools, in which 16 crore children of the age group 6 to 14 years are studying are breeding grounds for violence and Naxalism. An army of Indian engineers, doctors, nurses, computer professionals, government servants army and police personnel and factory workers come from government schools. It would appear that this human resource that is the backbone of this country is wholly ‘Naxalite’ in the eyes of this completely irrational guru.

The truth is that Ravi Shankar, being the brand Guru of the Global corporates, would like education to be the milking cow of this sector, so that there is colossal growth in their profits.

We consider the statement

· Anti-constitutional as it goes against Article 21-A where the Government is bound to provide free and compulsory education to children of the age group 6 to 14 years. Since the Parliament of India has passed this Fundamental Right, the implication is that Ravi Shankar considers the Parliament to be promoting violence and Naxalism, by charging the government with the responsibility of providing education to every child of the country.

· And also talks of reproducing the ideology of hate as presented by Golwakar and Sarvarkar which schools like Adarsh Vidya Mandir teach, since he said that Adarsh schools should be set up evreywhere in the name of bhartiya sanskriti. It should be known that this statement was made from the platform of the silver jubilee celebrations of Adarsh Vidya Society which runs more than 1000 Adarsh Vidya mandir schools in Rajasthan.

We demand legal action against the global brand corporate guru.

We are,

Prem Krisha Sharma, President, PUCL, Rajasthan
Vinod Raina, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti
Shabnam, ANHAD
Nishat Hussein, PUCL, Vice President and National Muslim Women’s Welfare Society, Jaipur
M Hasan, IRADA, Jaipur
Komal Srivastava, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti
Raja Ram Bhadu, SAMANTAR and People’s Union For Civil Liberties, Rajasthan
Vishwambhar, Digantar
Ashok Khandelwal, Rajasthan Right to food and Work Resource Centre, Jaipur
Shiv Singh, Alarippu
Rashid, People’s Union For Civil Liberties, Rajastha
Vijay Goyal, Resource Institue of Human Rights, Rajasthan
Sabir Khan, Sarthak and PUCL, RAjasthan
Harkesh Bugalia, Rajasthan General and Nirman Workers Union,
Radha Kant Saxena, People’s Union For Civil Liberties, Rajasthan
Nirmal Mor , Student MSW University of Rajasthan
Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union For Civil Liiberties, Rajasthan
Mohan Shrotirya, Eminent citizen
H. C. Bhartiya, Rajasthan Science Society
Anant Bhatnagar, PUCL, Rajasthan, Organising Secretary
DL Tripathi, Vice President, PUCL, Rajasthan

35 Comments
  1. John permalink
    March 21, 2012 11:32 PM

    Agreed, He should be opposed. But legal action? Much more effective is a professionally disseminated public media denunciation. And it won’t take 20 years and won’t further bog the clogged Indian courts.

  2. Sohail Hashmi permalink
    March 21, 2012 11:36 PM

    What leaves me totally nonplussed is the fact that people who appear to be gifted with normal intelligence and those fairly careful in all their dealings, both personal and professional allow wool to be pulled over their eyes in the name of Kundalini Jagran,TM, Magical embrace, Joy Of Living and similar other mumbo jumbo.

    The large number of fairly highly educated who flock to these strange gatherings makes me wonder, where do these devotees acquire their education. Since a very large proportion of the Joy of Living devotees are English speaking, i would think that that is where Sri Sri is getting the bulk of his devotees.

    No wonder he wants privatisation of education.

    • bigboss permalink
      March 22, 2012 1:21 AM

      “What leaves me totally nonplussed is the fact that people who appear to be gifted with normal intelligence and those fairly careful in all their dealings, both personal and professional allow wool to be pulled over their eyes in the name of Kundalini Jagran,TM, Magical embrace, Joy Of Living and similar other mumbo jumbo.”

      Sohail, old chap, what about events such a sufi devotional gathering – also “mumbo jumbo”? And I’d be interested to know just what qualifies as “mumbo jumbo”, since you’re handing out judgments..

      • abdulwadhood permalink
        March 22, 2012 11:30 AM

        Maybe he included sufi devotional gatherings in “similar other mumbo jumbo”

    • March 22, 2012 9:01 AM

      Sohail bhai,

      Most of these so-called gurus and godmen also act as a kind of influence and information exchange for the high-fliers and the well-connected.
      How could a fellow like Chandraswami have been so influential but for that role he played? The fellow looked like a goonda you would cross the road to avoid. Ditto the late Sathyanarayana Raju a.k.a. Sai Baba. Top politicians, judges, policemen and heads of various institutions would land up in his place and in exchange for hushing up allegations of sex, murder, financial irregularities and such, would be put in touch with each other.
      Some go to Rotary and Lions Clubs. And some others go to these so-called gurus and swamis.

      • Avinash permalink
        March 22, 2012 11:14 AM

        At least they are not asking any one to harm others for getting rewards in an imaginary life here-after nor do they force any one to attend their lectures.

  3. March 21, 2012 11:58 PM

    I would have respected your article if you hadn’t included the following statement in your article : ‘ The truth is that Ravi Shankar, being the brand Guru of the Global corporates, would like education to be the milking cow of this sector, so that there is colossal growth in their profits. ‘
    You wrote – ‘ We would like to demand evidence ‘. I would like to demand evidence for the point I have quoted earlier in your article.
    One more thing – I have never seen you people writing the great work he has been doing thoughout the world through his AOL, touching and improving the life of more people than Kafila ever will. I din’t see you high-lighting his recent Pakistan trip and the message of peace he carries.
    However, yes, you willl definitely demand legal action if one such statement has been said. I am not even suggesting that his statement has been misinterpreted.
    I must say that I am a fan of the kind of journalism Kafila stands for but this article is too much for a fan as well.

    • mohit permalink
      March 22, 2012 2:54 AM

      In apropos of above mentioned comment I just want to state that we should not judge certain ideal types at the level of figures of speech. For instance ‘great work’ and ‘peace’ message….so on. The above written press release possesses descriptive concreteness not in terms of any figuration but through critical ongoing. One evidence his corporate affiliation I just want to draw from your thesis of Kafila’s journalism only. Where Kafila tends to provide a platform for exchange of ideas without any mediation like money or power; in Ravishanker’s college of journalism even to learn ‘so called journalistic practice’ you have to pay pretty huge money. And the list just start here………….so please while even going for comment we should take care of obvious oblivion question….

  4. hemant permalink
    March 22, 2012 12:15 AM

    These so called Buddhjeevi are real pain . They always find some or other reason to criticise for some known \ unknown reasons. Perhaps they have never seen the plight of Govt. Schools in deep down rural area’s , for them Metro like mumbai . Delhi , chennai , calcutta is india .
    Take pain see pathetic condition down there especiallly in state like UP. In fact this seems as a gesture rather than allegation and should be taken in right perspective instead of making issue out of it .

  5. suresh permalink
    March 22, 2012 12:28 AM

    We demand legal action against the global brand corporate guru.

    Just curious: what sort of legal action? Surely, it is not a crime to be idiotic. By that token, we might as well demand legal action against the signatories to this statement too. I think it would be entirely justified.

    And what does “global brand corporate guru” mean?

    The right response to the silly statement of Sri Sri (add as many Sri as you want) Ravishankar is humour. But what we have is more silliness.

  6. March 22, 2012 3:40 AM

    Wow, seems like folks were waiting with bated breath for Ravishankar to slip up. Unlike Ramdev he had managed to stay politically correct so far. He had mostly been talking in vague and overall fluff terms, ‘spreading peace and love’. Generally consider it harmless chicken soup for the soul. But this article seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill. You had ignored all his fluff so far, why take this seriously

    • PKs permalink
      March 24, 2012 2:30 PM

      aprops Vinod’s comments on the article I feel he is right Sri Sri looks slipping up first time & needs to be given that benefit, I’m not follower of any of the babas but genuinely feel Sri Sri is far better than all others & has overall a good influence on society at large….saw him once while attending a musical concert of AOL….the environs of his gathering is very good, congenial & harmonious…one really feels peace….lets give him benefit of doubt, of course I do expect him to apologize for making such a bizarre generalization.

  7. March 22, 2012 10:20 AM

    They are not teaching the ‘Art of living’. They are teaching the ‘Art of busines’.

    • veena permalink
      March 26, 2012 5:31 PM

      u r right

  8. Pradeep Narayanan permalink
    March 22, 2012 1:56 PM

    For once, I actually agree partly with the views of this ‘Guru’. Given that his horizon of lived experience is limited, I understand that what he wanted to state is that Government Schools remain the only space where children actually learn about their rights and reasons for backwardness and exclusion. Primarily with Government schools becoming “resorts for poor”, where else there is a collectivisation of lived experiences of exclusion and marginalisation? Obviously they will be agitated. How else you want a set of citizens to react when they are not given equal treatment? or when education is not seen as rights but commodity to be purchased? At the end if the State does not address exclusion or discrimination, at the end you will have parallel education system- one for poor and another for rich. And if your constitutional spaces are not functional, what else these citizens can do?

  9. Shubh Mathur permalink
    March 22, 2012 2:25 PM

    Once again to congratulate Kafila – the sheer volume and unreasoning vindictiveness of the negative comments on this piece shows that you have touched a weak spot – keep up the good work exposing corporate hypocrites and their Hindutva connections – feel-good Hindu supremacism for the new corporate middle class in a new age package –
    wonder if Sri Sri (what a name) knows that the Adarsh schools are breeding grounds for intolerance and violence against Muslims and Christians and if he and his followers think it even matters – would be interesting to know how many of the Malegaon bombers are products of that system
    all support for this statement

  10. March 22, 2012 5:22 PM

    I echo the opinion of Shubh Mathur above. The real danger to this country comes from schools and political ideologies that view other human beings through prisms of religion, race and colour. The biases are subtle but deep and difficult to erase. The important thing is to point it out.

    • Raghu permalink
      March 22, 2012 8:50 PM

      @ Eric Pinto, what are we to understand from this: “Reasons to Send Your Child to a Christian School” http://www.believersweb.org/view.cfm?ID=200

      Even Father Joseph Pawathil was also telling a few months back that the christians should send their children to Christian schools only. What are the others to understand from that?

  11. Ratree permalink
    March 22, 2012 8:36 PM

    Offcourse he is touching life of many but I think you should do a quick survey ‘who are these whose life he is touching’….You will get an answer ‘Art of living’ is nothing more than a business model..

  12. Pradiptamohan Basu permalink
    March 22, 2012 11:47 PM

    I am blissfully ignorant about what these “babas” and “swami-jis” or the “from USA flown in miracle Reverends” preach in their gatherings. I have never attended any such event and am quite hopeful that I shall never have to (I am 62 now). At the same time, I am also curious. What do these so-called Godmen [GM] preach? How do they touch the lives of other people? I guess, people [rich or poor] who can not come to terms with their own guilty conscience or who are hopelessly poor or are mentally depressed go to these GM hoping for some magic solution. Some of these people get their confidence indeed back. Soothing, reassuring and kind words, combined with Yoga etc., can of course help. But, quite visibly, these GM can not touch the lives of our desperately poor farmers, many of whom never had the opportunity to go to a school – Govt. run or not! Can, by the way, these GM change the mindset of our corrupt politicians, high-interest money lenders and their goondas? I mean “touch” their lives in a positive manner so that they change their “art” of living and become honest tax paying citizens? Regards -

    • veena permalink
      March 26, 2012 5:33 PM

      very nicely written

  13. Vijay permalink
    March 23, 2012 2:30 PM

    I think that the idea of legal action is ridiculous! This is because it is like responding to stupidity with utter idiocy. Are we so authoritarian that people can not even say something that is stupid!

  14. Moulasha permalink
    March 23, 2012 7:00 PM

    Guru should know that Social Injustice creates Naxals not the Govenrment Schools !!!

  15. kumarpushp permalink
    March 24, 2012 9:58 PM

    Mr Ravishankar and his associate are member of RSS who were involved in bombing of mosque in and samjhauta express in India.he is wearing white dhoti but is black from inside .about 2 year ago he had given statement that dalits might use violence against hindus but hindus should follow rule of lawas.now he came with new ideas to close the Government school so dalits and tribals will fall in line of barbaric hindus who will be used by RSS against muslims.166 million dalits and 60 million tribals should teach Ravishanlar a lesson and must paint his face black so worls should see his ugly face.olden time they did not allow to read sanskrit and now these barbaric Ravishankar wants to close the government school.

  16. VSS permalink
    March 27, 2012 8:39 PM

    To know the truth about SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR, please visit the following link at the earliest:

    http://aolfree.wordpress.com/

    This blog is run by those who have been deceived, abused, and, exploited by the Art of Living Foundation.

    • April 1, 2012 6:09 PM

      there was a lot of nonsensical talk about osho too when he lived and these were the people who made him die of food poisoning at such a young age of mid fifties. i have learnt a lot from his books/cassttes/sesions etc. even his book narikranti in hindi, i found to be most feministic than any other feminist book. hence i wont have a look at the aolfree.wordpress website, not only not to waste my time , but also because afterall i am capable of deciding what i want and like and why and what not, who are these disturbed minds to disorient me from my path of inner journey? i am sure many others think this way. so pls. dont waste your time with such inputs

  17. अहंनास्मि (Ahannāsmi) permalink
    March 28, 2012 2:13 AM

    Well, we are fooling ourselves if we expect sensitivity from someone who is megalomaniacal enough to attach a couple of honorifics to his own name. Sri Mr Mr Ravi Shankar is a joke, but, sadly, he is an immensely rich and well-connected joke.

    By the way, here is an example of the “intellectual depth” of Mr Monsieur Monsieur Ravi Shankar. He and Javed Akhtar were invited to an India Today discussion about spirituality. Here is Javed Akhtar’s speech, and here is Sri Herr Herr Ravi Shankar’s response, which blithely ignores the historical fact that the “athesists” he so flatly dismisses as reactionary ignorants included such “spiritual” people as Siddhartha Gautama (technically, agnostic) and Vardhaman Mahavira.

    • avinashk1975 permalink
      March 31, 2012 2:33 PM

      Not only Sri Sri Ravi Shankar but every peddler of faith is a big joke. There is no proof for the existence of any God. Nobody has come back after death to tell us the stories in heaven and hell. The fun-filled Paradise existed only in the fertile imagination of some sur-realistic visionaries.

      The saddest part of the story is that there are more than enough gullibles in the world and they are falling into the trap of such people even now.

    • April 2, 2012 11:02 AM

      dear ahannasmiji I am a near atheist (only I like Goddess Saraswatiji!) and i dont feel taken as a reactionary ignorant by ravi shankarji, and i am not falling into any trap either avinashji. your worries about people are superficial and rather point towards jealousy. why cant you just look at the positive vibrations he has created around him? i too dont like sri sri etc. before his name. big, really big people, do not need all those titles, but then it is the people, the aam janata, who wants that. otherwise i too am not any follower of any gurus, but i take whatever is good from anyone. i think we Indians have a reason to be proud of people like osho, ravi shankar, ramdev, anna hazare etc. etc. jusy enjoy that feeling and dont always get into analysis and the like.

  18. venukmwpb permalink
    March 28, 2012 7:48 PM

    I liked the following comment here and endorse it, apart from fully agreeing with the citizens’ call for taking action against Sree Sree
    “They are not teaching the ‘Art of living’. They are teaching the ‘Art of busines’”.

  19. March 31, 2012 10:38 PM

    “the brand Guru of the Global corporates” ?? nonsense and too simplistic! people who are ready to use such adverbs and adjectives are very much stuck in their old fashioned marxistic-leninistic thinking. they need to come out of their leftist cocoons and take a look at the reality. spirituality is the need of the hour and to call ravi shankar for something he said, which can also have a different conotation, a global corporate, is just being stuck in old boxes. these very people talk in similar simplistic terms when it comes to issues on kashmir, minorities etc. and hence are the most incapable of solving these problems…

    • अहंनास्मि (Ahannāsmi) permalink
      April 2, 2012 11:18 AM

      In fact these modern age Gurus are more guilt of the simplisticism that you accuse their critics of. Here are some hard facts about the Art of Living courses:

      1) They consist of scientifically untested and unproven procedures, many of them even have the potential of being harmful.

      2) Further, the courses are run in a fully corporate manner: the “company” (that’s what it is) claims copyrights on “Sudashan Kriya” and hounds any website which publishes their material to take them down on these grounds, just like a music company would do, and exactly unlike a Siddhartha Gautama would do.

      3) The courses are expensive, far out of the reach of most Indians, again something which reeks more of corporate greed than of spitituality. Imagine what opinion you would have had of Gautam Buddha if he insisted on living in palaces and denied any wisdom he might have possessed to anyone who couldn’t shell out 10 gold coins.

      4) These untested procedures are presented as a panacea: and somehow the critics, and not the purveyors are being “simplistic”?

      I have no problem in people making money. But at least they ought to be honest about it, and not try to take a moral high ground they don’t possess. However, a much bigger crime, especially in a country like ours, is the encouragement of superstition that most of these Gurus practice.

  20. Nivedita Menon permalink*
    April 2, 2012 2:28 PM

    This debate has clearly run its course, and comments on this post are now closed.

Comments are closed.

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