Rally for Rivers was purely an awareness campaign to get people's support to change the policy of how we treat our rivers. I personally drove 9,300 kilometers in thirty days. During that time, I spoke at 142 events along the way and gave over 180 interviews.
The whole idea was for it to become a national movement. 162 million people supported the campaign, which is the largest number of people to support any one movement in just thirty days, anywhere in the world.
The Voice of the People
Once there was such support from people, the government could not ignore it. We presented the 760-page Rally for Rivers recommendation to the Central government. Approximately sixteen hours after I gave it to the Prime Minister, he set up a special committee to look at the recommendations.
Then it went to the NITI Aayog, which is India's planning body. They put it through the scientific test. Once they saw that it passes all that, they made it the official recommendation for all the twenty-nine states in the country.
It has never happened in the history of independent India that the government actually put a private organization's name on a policy. But they did it with the river revitalization recommendation because they saw the magnitude of what we have done.
During the rally, when I drove through the sixteen states, there were six different parties that had formed the governments in these sixteen states. For the first time in the last thirty to forty years, these six parties of different types of political people stood up and supported this.
Rally for Rivers to Cauvery Calling
Cauvery Calling is very different from Rally for Rivers. Rally for Rivers was an awareness campaign to change the laws. Now, we are talking about action on the ground.
We have another ongoing project in Maharashtra, in the Yavatmal region. The project is on a fifty-four kilometer river called Waghari - a sub-tributary of Godavari. We are working with the government and our volunteers are on the ground, living and working there.
While Rally for Rivers was an awareness project to change the law, Waghari is a hands-on project. Cauvery Calling is in between. In scope, Cauvery Calling is much larger than Waghari because in Cauvery Calling, we will execute this between the government, the farmers and us.
Today, we clearly know that we can execute Cauvery Calling. We have a board with the former ISRO chairperson, the CEO of World Wide Fund for Nature - India, a former Supreme Court judge, the chairperson of Biocon Ltd, the topmost water expert in the country, and the person who started the whole Farmer Producer Organization movement. We have the most eminent board in the country. We have a hundred dedicated volunteers who are working full-time on this. So we are well-equipped to make it happen.
But unless the government gives incentives to farmers, it will not work. Fortunately, both the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are looking at it favorably because the amount of finance that is needed is very meager. The money is already allocated to various schemes. It just needs to be reallocated.
Cauvery Calling is essentially an economic plan for the farmer and an ecological plan for the country. Cauvery is only the first step. If we successfully pull this off in twelve years' time in Cauvery basin, this will be a game-changer for the nation and for the tropical world.
A Freedom Movement
When it comes to rivers, we are the oppressors. All of us are party to this destruction. This needs a much bigger movement than a freedom movement because the enemy is within. It takes much more force, sincerity, honesty and incisive action because the enemy within does not exit so easily. How I saw Cauvery fifty years ago, the glorious clean wonderful Cauvery, in the next twenty five years, we want to offer that kind of Cauvery to our children.
Cauvery Calling is a first of its kind campaign, setting the standard for how India's rivers - the country's lifelines - can be revitalized. It will initiate the revitalization of the Cauvery river by supporting farmers to plant 242 crore trees in the river basin. This will increase water retention in the basin, while improving the income of farmers by 3-8 times in 5-7 years and transforming the lives of 84 million people. Visit: CauveryCalling.org or call 80009 80009. #CauveryCalling
(Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and a New York Times bestselling author. Sadhguru was conferred the "Padma Vibhushan" by the Government of India in 2017, one of the highest civilian awards, accorded for exceptional and distinguished service. Three decades ago, Sadhguru founded Isha Foundation, a non-profit human-service organization, with human well-being as its core commitment. Sadhguru has initiated powerful yoga programs for human transformation as well as various outreach projects to uplift under-served communities in rural India.)
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