Sadhguru on India’s Current State of Affairs
“The basic problem is we think the government is running the country, but it is actually just a policymaker.”
Sadhguru on Indian Government's Policies and Performance
Question: How would you rate the government’s performance?
Sadhguru: The basic problem is we think the government is running the country, but it is actually just a policymaker. Unknowingly, people are inviting the government to run their lives. The only business of the government is to come up with the right policies. In that regard, I think the government has come up with daring policies. They have done very well in making policies that are aimed at replacing our foundational structures.
Even when the foundation of a house is changed, a certain part of the ceiling might fall on the head. When it falls on our heads, we do not like it, but when the foundations are rotting, we complain. I think fundamental structural changes are being done, and despite all the disruptions, I think a lot of serious policymaking has happened. My only disappointment is that not enough has been done in the education sector. I expected dramatic changes, but only small changes have happened. I have approached them and they are open to ideas. There is openness to change.
Question: Which policy shifts of the government would you commend the most?
Sadhguru: The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is not a small step. People are still complaining because it is inconvenient. But if you do not go through this, you will have to go through 13 different taxes every day. What you need to understand is that corruption exists because there are multiple agencies collecting money. Reducing so many taxes into one or two is a complicated affair. I think the GST has fallen in place well. It may look like we are hitting the small businesses, but if we do not fix it now, we shall always remain a small business. If the nation has to become a big business, some fundamental laws have to be strongly put in place.
Question: Do you think coalition governments are good for the country?
Sadhguru: There are several Indias within this India. We need to talk about the most disadvantaged India, the almost 40% of the population that still lives in abysmal conditions. For that India, we need a firm, stable government for the next five to ten years.
If we lack debate or drama, coalition governments are the answer, but the question is, will the work get done? People who enjoy their own hot gases, whose survival has been taken care of, they will like coalition governments.
If there is a stable government, work will happen. Let us first get out of the pit and then talk about fancy things. The government should be on a firm footing to deliver, not dawdling around every day in search of stability. We need stability to take advantage of the demographic dividend of youthfulness that we have, which will last only for the next 10-15 years.
Question: Your recent comment on Sterlite and protests in Tamil Nadu revived the industry versus pollution debate again…
Sadhguru: I only said there are laws in the country. If somebody is breaking it, there should be government agencies to fix that. You cannot fix problems of an industry on the street. If you support lawlessness simply because you think you are right, it cannot work. It does not matter even if you are right. Just go through the process.
Question: How would you assess the government’s efforts to clean the Ganga?
Sadhguru: More than pollution, serious depletion of water is a problem. You can fix pollution in a few years if you have the will, but it will take decades to fix depletion. As far as Ganga is concerned, 70% of effluents coming into the Ganga are industrial effluents. Right now, the laws are such that we expect the polluting industry to treat the waste. This needs to change.
Treatment industry should be separate. When your pollutants are my business, I will make sure it does not go into the river. We have already made these recommendations to the government and they seem to be working in the right direction. It is with regard to this that Shri Nitin Gadkari said that 70% of pollution in the Ganga will be resolved.
Sadhguru on Lynching and Intolerance
Question: There is a feeling among certain sections that intolerance has increased in the society. How would you see this?
Sadhguru: As far as I see around myself, in terms of communal and other kinds of friction, I feel we are way better than what we were in the last seventy years. Go to any village or any community: distinctions of caste and community have come down significantly, though still there is a lot to be done.
The only thing is, every person today with a phone is a journalist. Lynchings have been common in this country. Lynching means there is absence of law. When the crowd decides to deal with something, this is how it is dealt with. I am not trying to justify this. This is an unfortunate reality of our nation, especially in villages. Fearmongering has always happened, which is being spread faster through technology. Lynching, some people thought, was against one community, but a crowd can beat up anyone. It is just fear-based and ignorance-based.
Question: The Supreme Court of India says there should be a law against lynching. Your comments?
Sadhguru: You can make more laws, but who will enforce them? In India, the police stations have 12-13 people each, with four of them on night shift and two on leave. With seven to eight guys, do you think it is possible to enforce laws? In India, social order is maintained by the society itself, not by the police. Do you think it is possible for a few unarmed policemen to handle the frenzy of a mob?
Sadhguru on India's Women's Reservation Bill
Question: Do you think the time has come for all parties to come together to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill?
Sadhguru: “Why 33%” is my question? Women are nearly 50% of the population, so why restrict them to just 33%? If you place someone in a position just because of her gender, I feel it is gender discrimination. A leader is selected because he or she has earned the trust of the people, because of competence. Now if you start choosing them based on their gender, women will always remain confined to 33%. We need to educate our girl children well, and tomorrow, who knows, they could well be 80% in Parliament. Policymaking should be gender-free. Discrimination will impair democracy.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article was originally published in Speaking Tree.