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Sri Sri's World Culture Festival is to prove India is not intolerant

It is a landmark event at a time when world is debating whether the country has lost its harmony in diversity.

 |  3-minute read |   10-03-2016
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The picture of young Indians taking an entrance test for an Army job recruitment in their underwear that went viral last week was worth a thousand thoughts. It's a sad commentary on the falling moral values that even those who aspire to be trusted with the nation’s security cannot be trusted.

It also mirrors the West’s obsession of playing up the darker side of India. Beyond social media, serious news sites like times.com, wsj.com, independent.co.uk, washingtonpost.com, telegraph.co.uk, etc trolled India.

If you Google "Indian Army cheating", you will see many Western websites, which rarely cover India, giving a negative spin to the "stripping drill".

Alo read: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and rise of India's crony spiritualism

Stripping down would-be recruits in an effort to check cheating is not only bizarre, but also objectionable. It does no good to India’s image abroad at a time when the world is keenly debating whether the country has lost its harmony in diversity and become intolerant.

It's time India plays up her brighter side to the world and breaks this stereotyping of our nation as a land of poor snake charmers. Though we has come a long way, Western audiences still would like to believe that movies like Slumdog Millionaire and India's Daughter are the true and real stories of India.

From showing the Taj Mahal through the lens of filth to playing up incidences of petty crimes as communal conflicts, it has always been a favourite pastime for media to show India at her worst.

We have slums, we have beggars, we reel under a corrupt system, yet we are also the most humane and tolerant civilisation.

Also read: Is using Indian Army for Sri Sri's private party Modi's idea of national security?

Even today, societal and communal bonding continue to be a strong anchor and support system. It will always be very difficult for an outsider to judge India as she is full of contradictions. So, it's our duty to show the world that though there are slums in India, we don't have slumdogs. Also, no other country embraces diversity as India does.

We need to shed this low self-esteem of ours. We need to take more pride in our cultural and spiritual roots. This is what makes the upcoming World Culture Festival of the Art of Living a landmark event.

By bringing people from more than 150 countries to India in an atmosphere of celebration, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has probably activated the most powerful PR blitz for India. One would wonder how could one organise a festival of this scale in such a polluted place. This itself should be given credit.

India's spiritual wealth is extremely valuable. Our long tradition of spirituality and impeccable track record of uniting people needs to be hard-sold to counter the canard of intolerance being spread by vested interests.

Also read: Photos don't lie - Busting Sri Sri's claims of not harming the Yamuna

"The festival is envisioned with the intention of spreading the revered Indian ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. It will send the message that we are one world, one family. People from all over the world will come to the festival as a member of one family. It will reinforce that we all can co-exist with our differences," says Sri Sri.

With unique displays from indigenous tribal dances, rural folks to rich cultures lined up, the festival will give the world a chance to see and enjoy the best aspects of India at one place and in a festive environment.

Generations of people from all over the world have been coming to India to find solace to overcome many ills such as depression, stress, anxiety, professional burnout, and addictions. The festival will prove to the world that India is a real charmer, not a place of snake charmers.

The world is in dire need of a positive revolution. We should raise a toast to the vision of World Culture Festival, 2016.


M Rajaque Rahman M Rajaque Rahman @rajaque

A former journalist, the author currently facilitates spiritual-based workshops of the Art of Living. His writings focus on adding spiritual aspects to things worldly.

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