Topics: Mother India, Indian Microgrids, Sanitation & Cleaning-up Corruption
On this episode of Solutions News, we focus on Mother India! Our guest is Sadhvi Bhagawati, who has become a guiding voice in bridging the cultures of America and India, blending the knowledge and logic of the West with the insights, spirituality and wisdom of the East. We investigate India's growing investment in renewable and distributed energy, Prime Minister Modi's quest to clean up corruption and build India's infrastructure from the bottom-up, and end the show with a segment on ways India's culture has helped the West become wiser.
Story #1: A New Model in India: With India being a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the country is more than ready to increase investments in the renewable energy sector. Prime Minister Modi is focusing on investing in renewable energy, which has started a great push for the country. It is time for a larger solution: microgrids. These will get electricity to the villages, reduce pollution, and develop an industry for economic growth.
But what is a microgrid? It’s a network of one or more electricity users with a locally generated source of supply that is often attached to a centralized national grid… but, it’s able to function independently from the grid. Microgrids are a solution for India’s future, cushioning users from grid-related power outages, helping accelerate economic activity, providing power, and saving money. They would both lower India’s national greenhouse gas emissions and give India the opportunity to be a world leader in renewable energy technology of the future.
Story #2: Cleaning Up India: Prime Minister Modi has been very successful in his campaign “Toilets Before Temples,” meaning government-provided sanitation services before new religious buildings are constructed. Many places, like the town of Kancheepuram that holds festivals of 50,000 people, have very few toilets (only six in this case) and sanitation services. Since 2014, Modi has built 92 million new toilets and not a single new temple. The city has become considerably cleaner, and Modi plans to take the program to the next level.
Modi also announced that he would eliminate the two largest bills in circulation the 1,000- and 500-rupee notes. This was meant to root out corruption through eliminating “black money,” money that is often circulated in the black market, and to create an enforceable tax system. Modi believes these changes will not only reduce corruption, but also enhance self-respect of citizens.
Story #3: The Buddha and the West: The modern west has been very influenced by India’s ancient culture. New western habits have adopted many ancient ideas, including: namaste, a common and lovely greeting; Ayurveda, a Hindu system of medicine relating to balancing the individual; Juggad, the art of flexible innovation, almost like a “hack” to make things work; yoga and meditation, a self-practice to develop spiritual and mental focus; and deep spirituality and great religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism.
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Ph.D., was raised in an American family in Hollywood, California and graduated from Stanford University. She was completing her Ph.D. when she left America in 1996 to come and live permanently at Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, India. She has been living there for 23 years, engaged in spiritual practice and service.
She was officially initiated into the order of Sanyas (monastic renunciation) in the year 2000, by her Guru, His Holiness Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji.
At Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, where she lives most of the year, she teaches meditation, gives spiritual discourses and daily satsang, provides counseling and oversees myriad charitable and humanitarian projects and activities.
Sadhvi serves as:
Secretary-General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, an international interfaith organization dedicated to clean water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH)
President of Divine Shakti Foundation, a foundation which runs free schools, vocational training programs and empowerment programs
Director of the world-famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth which has been covered in Time Magazine, CNN, New York Times and other prestigious publications
Additionally, Sadhvi serves as Vice-Chair of the United Nations’ Advisory Council on Religion, and on the Steering Committees of the international Partnership for Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) and the World Bank’s Moral Imperative to End Extreme Poverty.
Sadhvi is a renowned speaker who gives keynote addresses at large forums, on a wide variety of topics ranging from conscious business to science and spirituality to sustainable development to the keys of happiness and peace in life to all aspects of yoga. Her talks blend the knowledge and logic of the West with the insights, spirituality and wisdom of the East, and she is renowned as a spiritual bridge between the two cultures. Her TEDx talk on her journey from “Hollywood to the Holy Woods” has been watched by over 160,000 people and the documentary on her life has been watched online by nearly a quarter of a million people.
She has also spoken at several United Nations events, including with the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, and at many international conferences and summits. She has received numerous awards and recognition for her leadership role in India, including from the Cabinet Minister of Water Resources, Government of India as well as from the Ambassador of the United States to India.
Sadhvi has a Ph.D in Psychology and was the Managing Editor for the monumental project of the 11-volume Encyclopedia of Hinduism.