Home » Environment » Sri Sri won't go to jail for not paying NGT fine. This Navy Commodore could

Sri Sri won't go to jail for not paying NGT fine. This Navy Commodore could

Nihar Gokhale | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:53 IST

Art of Living's mega event, the World Culture Festival, is actually being held by one of its sister organisations. It's called Vyakti Vikas Kendra (roughly, Human Development Centre). Being a trust, it's governed by a board of trustees.

But Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is nowhere on the board. The chairman of this board is a retired Navy officer, Commodore (retd) Sarvotham Rao.

Read: Environment ministry had the power to stop AOL event. Why didn't it?

In TV interviews yesterday, Sri Sri insisted he will go to jail but not pay the Rs 5 crore fine levied by the National Green Tribunal.

Well, if Art of Living hadn't coughed up the fine, it's more likely that Commodore Rao would have faced the action, and not Sri Sri.

As reported also by Firstpost, this makes the godman's call that he will go to jail but not pay the fine an empty threat.

According to its registration details, Ravi Shankar is a 'chief functionary' of the Kendra. But as its own website says, governance of the Kendra is vested in the trustee board.

Rao is also the chairman of the World Culture Festival Organising Committee. All the court cases against the event have been filed against Kendra, of which Rao is the chairman.

But surprisingly, Rao has been missing from the controversy surrounding the AOL.

Catch tried to reach Rao through the Art of Living media team, but has not heard back.

The Kendra's website throws up some interesting details about Rao, though. It turns out Cmde Rao knows a thing or two about conflicts.

The website says Rao retired from the Indian Navy in 1989. From 1994-2000, he was chairman and managing director of Bharat Dynamics Limited, a 'government enterprise'.

Also read: Isn't it odd? Even Kejriwal kept quiet on Art of Living damage

What the Kendra website doesn't say is that BDL is a defence PSU involved in making ammunition and missiles.

Its main products include anti-tank missiles, the medium range surface-to-air missile Akash, and torpedoes.

According to the BDL website, Rao is also the recipient of the Vishisht Seva Medal, a military decoration for non-operational service.

According to a Bloomberg executive profile, Rao has worked not just in the Navy but also India's ordnance factories and Naval Armament, Missile and Torpedo Depot.

Rao was in the Navy's R&D wing, developing underwater missiles. He has a postgraduate degree in armament technology, and even went to the United Kingdom for a six-month training on torpedoes.

Rao's relations with defence extended until at least June 2015, when he retired as an independent director of Zen Technologies. Zen makes software to simulate firing grenades, missiles, guns, and so forth.

So, will he take bullet for Sri Sri?

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 11 March 2016, 4:14 IST
Nihar Gokhale @nihargokhale

Nihar is a reporter with Catch, writing about the environment, water, and other public policy matters. He wrote about stock markets for a business daily before pursuing an interdisciplinary Master's degree in environmental and ecological economics. He likes listening to classical, folk and jazz music and dreams of learning to play the saxophone.