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HindustanTimes Wed,22 Oct 2014

Lesser evil or NOTA, vote you must: Sri Sri

Sukhdeep Kaur , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, October 19, 2013
First Published: 17:05 IST(19/10/2013) | Last Updated: 17:06 IST(19/10/2013)

Choose to use the right to reject, is the message of spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The Art of Living Foundation head wants the 12-crore “missing” voters, who are eligible but not on the list, to use the ballot to bring change.

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Change, he says, can come even if they press the NOTA (none of the above) button on the electronic voting machine. He had supported the Jan Lokpal movement of Anna Hazare openly but does not want to be affiliated with any political party. When asked, he said between BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, people should choose whoever they thought was the lesser evil.

“We too had insisted that the Election Commission gave the option of NOTA to people,” he said. “The youth are restless for change but they cannot have it until they enlist as voters. There are 10-crore fake voters in the country, while 12-crore eligible do not figure on the electoral rolls,” Sri Sri added during his visit to Chandigarh on Friday.

He aims at solving the country’s unemployment problem in three years. “For this, we need both big projects and skill development. We have taken over a skill development centre in Chattisgarh and are taking over another at Nangal in Punjab, but we also need the government support,” said Sri Sri.

Concerned over drug abuse, the guru, who says he still sees himself as a youth, finds nothing wrong, however, with the young generation's “addiction” for technology. “Technology is conducive to spirituality,” he said, adding: “Mobile phones, the Internet, webcast and social networking are increasing spirituality. Many connect to our satsangs (discourses) through webcast. Materialism too complements spirituality.”

Working hard was not wrong if lifestyle was balance and included spirituality, he said. On a four-day visit to Punjab, he met chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Friday and offered his foundation’s services to deal with drug and alcohol addiction in the state. He suggested that the youth joined his Sudarshan and Shakti Kriya programmes to overcome these addictions, and the government supported the efforts to eliminate female foeticide.

Speaking on the overkill of chemical in Punjab’s agriculture, he rooted for indigenous seeds and cows. “I will meet farmers to convince them to reduce the dependence on chemicals,” he said, adding: “Punjab’s indigenous wheat seed is rich in folic acid and the milk production of its cows can be three times higher. Farmers should adopt co-operative culture and zero budget farming. With fertile land and bountiful rivers, the state can yield much more. Something is wrong somewhere if it is not happening.”

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