Why a Mercedes driving godman’s #RallyForRivers is Suspect

A few days ago, a friend called to say that the “Rally for Rivers” campaign by Jaggi Vasudev aka Sadhguru is actually advocating interlinking of rivers, a controversial and ill-advised engineering intervention that is environmentally, socially and financially fraught. Having read Jaggi’s banal writings on the campaign, I pointed out to him that the campaign openly advocates against inter-linking of rivers.

While Jaggi’s campaign warns against river interlinking, I am no longer certain that the man means what he says.

What the campaign advocates is like Jaggi’s writings — banal. Plant trees on either side of the river. Right!! In Jaggi’s campaign, there are no adversaries. The fight is reduced to a conflict between body and soul, an internal imbalance in imperfect human beings that if corrected with the power of yoga will unleash goodness that will heal the world.

Shillong’s well known people with Godman’s campaign

If you’re waiting for Jaggi to transform India’s rivers, don’t hold your breath. In Jaggi’s world, there are no strangers. Only friends that haven’t met. Also, there are no bad things that have to be stopped — like dams on rivers, the Ken-Betwa interlinking that will drown a tiger habitat, or the indiscriminate pollution from coal mines and coal power plants operated by his partners in this campaign. All these bad things can be cured by doing just one good thing — planting trees.

Tree planting is over-hyped as an environmental good. If rivers are to be revived, it is not just trees that do the most good, but grasses, shrubs, aquatic vegetation, and hardy floodplain plants that can withstand and even thrive in intense flooding. But who needs nuance when we can solve the world’s problems by planting a few trees here, cutting a few trees there?

The alien-green Mercedes is not the only inconsistency in the campaign’s message of sustainability. Here are a few other inconsistencies from the “Our Partners” section in the Rally for Rivers campaign page in the self-professed #Sadhguru‘s website

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A for Adani — you know whose daddy this is.
A for Apollo
A for Airtel

B for BigFM — also part of R for Reliance (also daddy of you know who)

C for CII aka Confederation of Indian Industries (Association of Big Daddies)

D for Dainik Bhaskar — India’s of the largest newspaper houses, recent entrant to real estate and coal-fired power generation in Chattisgarh

F for Fever FM (HT Media)

G for GMR Group — Sponsoring all the good things despite being Rs. 43,439 crores in debt

M for Mahindra — headed by Keshub Mahindra, currently on bail after being convicted for his role in the Union Carbide Bhopal gas disaster.

N for Network18 — owned and operated by Reliance Industries. Daddy returns

O for ONGC — Oh? Kathiramangalam. . . Water Pollution.

P for PVR Cinema

R for RedFM — part of Maran Brothers’ Sun Network.

S for Star (Rupert Murdoch, 21st Century Fox)

T for Times of India — the company that made the newspaper a product

V for Viacom 18 — a joint venture between American billionaire Sumner Redstone’s Viacom media conglomerate and Reliance Industries.

Z for Zee Entertainment

Have your say



Nityanand Jayaraman Written by:

Nityanand Jayaraman is a Chennai-based writer and social activist.


  1. Patriot Indian
    September 2, 2017

    What you are trying to do? Someone who has charishma to save rivers is taking up this initiative and people already started finding problems..What’s your problem if he travels in the car where its sponsored by people(as u mentioned) not on his own.You know what it takes to drive all the way to himalayas..You want him to drive in a motorbike?? u know his age..please don’t spoil the campaign..If you can’t do anything, then just shut up..Allow the nation to prosper..We need everyone (rich,poor) to save our rivers as its not anyone’s property…

  2. Aditya Kadam
    September 2, 2017

    I don’t care if anybody else reads this, but the writer should read this.
    I hope the writer has another sustainable plan or he/she is already doing something for rivers or just simply criticism is what earns bread and butter for him/her. That man is against exploitation of rivers, and certainly river interlinking is for exploitation. If it was such a magic wand that will solve the drought issues in Latur and Osmanabad of Maharashtra, where I live, trust me I would be the first person to fight for cause. But apparently its not. Do your research.
    About Mercedes, you need the information check, Anand Mahindra has donated Mahindra XUV 500s for the rally. It’s not Mercedes, it’s Mahindra. Mahindra XUV 500, NOT MERCEDES.
    And by the way, alphabetical list is incomplete. There are so many other celebrities as well. And common people, farmers, students as well. Good luck finding their records as well.

    Criticism is easy. Creation needs guts and influence. Writing an article is easy, planting trees or fetching water from 100ft deep well and fighting for just a bucket full of water takes courage. Come and visit my hometown Osmanabad and explain me and my people how to survive without our only river, Bhogawati. You are social activist,right?

  3. Sanaatana Dharmi
    September 3, 2017

    Please…for your own sake…GET A LIFE…
    I have listened to some of Sadhguru’s discourses, his own thoughts…& i find them quite logical & make sense. Here is some cause he has taken up, the fruits of which he himself might not reap, but, certainly some of the benefits will be reaped by the next gen…& lo…people begin to criticize…i have no problems with that…by all means criticize…a beautiful idol is formed when a 1000 blows are rained on an otherwise piece of just an ordinary rock…
    I wish Sadhguru & all those participating in this movement, a grand success…let us leave behind a legacy our next gen would cherish & become torchbearers of living in harmony with nature…

  4. Chethan
    September 4, 2017

    Stopped reading at
    “Tree planting is over-hyped as an environmental good”

  5. Joseph
    September 5, 2017

    Interesting perspective. If you look in the international arena we have similar stories. Oil giants and other polluters generally support environmental agencies to both buy carbon credits and attempts to ‘green’ their companies through such alliances.
    Such efforts generally tend to produce higher emissions and more destruction (check Naomi Klein’s book- This changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate). Wherever one finds an environmental protection agency or efforts backed by major polluters such as oil companies and major industries that is a red flag. Be skeptical about such efforts.

  6. September 7, 2017

    You left out a major sponsor of this ‘tamasha’- Future Group of Biyani……..

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