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September 20, 2013 “SADBHAVNA” OR “SAD” “BHAVNA”? REVISITING THIS DAY TWO YEARS AGO

I do not have a very good feeling writing this. I do not have a very happy feeling writing this. Exactly 2 years ago, a great event was launched, in typical ostentatious, megalomaniac style. It was called the Sadbhavana fast, undertaken to satisfy the ego of one man who has been on a singular mission- one mission, a deadly mission- the mission of self-propagation. So, with all pomp and fanfare, the fast went on for three days, and helped to lay bare before the world, the greedy ambitions of a man who has, sadly, always put himself first, and only after that come the people of the state.
The Sadbhavna fast managed to clock up expenses of gargantuan proportions. Not many people know that the entire bill was footed by the state government, across various departments. An expense of Rs. 1,57,18,275 was incurred on the function, which was born by various state government departments. The highest amount of Rs 87 lacs was borne by the R & B department, followed by Rs. 64.34 lac by the Information and Broadcasting department. Even the Sports department was not spared and it had contributed Rs 4,97,209 towards the event.
The Sadbhavna fast also went on to seriously violate various rules of the Gujarat Financial Rules – 1971 , by putting the expenses of the fast into various accounts of Road and Building, Narmada and Water resources, Industries and the Mining Department.
Not remaining satisfied with this gross display of personal aggrandizement and ambition, the man, apparently full of “Sadbhavna” for his countrymen, went on to hold 34 such Sadbhavna fasts across districts in the state. Why was this done? The reason given was – to increase communal peace and harmony. But is the end justified when the means are not ?
As the days go by, my feeling of unease and disappointment are only on the increase. It hurts me. It pains me to see how public funds have been rampantly used for personal gain and enhancing self-interest. As for increasing communal harmony, I would like to know – how can a fast evoke the feelings of peace, that too, when public money is being used and the funds are coming out of government coffers?
I wish that instead of spending such voluminous amounts on propagating self- interests the same amounts could have been used to waive the high education fees of thousands of poor, needy and deserving students who are now languishing for want of study fees. Or, the same amounts could have been used to feed thousands of pregnant women who are going without nutritious food, due to the sheer lack of money.

The word “Sad” is so full of positivity and goodwill – but the feeling that I get when I think of the Sadbhavna fast held this very day two years ago, is that of sadness. And grief. And sorrow. And shame.
The wise words of the Rig Veda come home to me now—”Sangacchadvam, Samvadadvam, sam vo manaamsi, jaanatham.”
The words exhort all of mankind to join, live and move ahead together, talking to each other with love and respect.

I wonder where this ‘bhaavna” was when the “Sadbhavna” fast was held, on such a lavish, pompous scale…..Two years ago, to be precise….

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