Art of Living Foundation
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|Founder||Sri Sri Ravi Shankar|
|Headquarters||21st Km, Udaypura, Kanakapura Road, Bengaluru|
The Art of Living Foundation is a volunteer-based, humanitarian and educational non-governmental organization (NGO). It was founded in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The Art of Living Foundation has centers in more than 156 countries. Art of Living offers several stress-elimination and self-development programs based on breathing techniques, meditation and yoga.
Art of Living Foundation has been an educational and humanitarian organization in the U.S. since 1989. Accredited as a United Nations non-governmental organization in 1996, it works in special consultative status with the UN's Economic and Social Council, participating in a variety of committees and activities relating to health, education, sustainable development, conflict resolution, and disaster relief.
The majority of the officers of the organization, along with most of its teachers and staff, are volunteers. Many humanitarian programs, disaster relief efforts, and training programs are conducted through, or in conjunction with a partner organization, the International Association for Human Values (IAHV). The organization is involved in community service through its centers, and programs are taken by people of many traditions and religious backgrounds. Its underlying principles are compatible with Vedic philosophy.
Some of the key worldwide chapters include the Art of Living Foundation (U.S.A.), Vyakti Vikas Kendra (India), Die Kunst des Lebens (Germany), Art of Living Center (Canada), Art of Living South Africa, Art of Living Israel, Art of Living Brazil, and Art of Living Argentina. The Foundation operates as a charitable or a non-profit organization actively conducting "Art of Living" stress-relief courses, based on yoga, breathing, and meditation.
According to the tax return filed by the American chapter, AOL Foundation had total revenues of $US5.5 million, an income of $US3.5 million from course fees and expenditure of $US3.4 million from July 2006 to June 2007. Net assets at the beginning of July 2007 amounted to $US7.7 million.
Programmes and courses
Its stress-elimination and self-development programs are based on the breathing technique Sudarshan Kriya, meditation and yoga. This technique is a major part of Art of Living courses, which are conducted by instructors, most of whom do voluntary work. These courses have also been conducted for students and faculty, government officials, firemen, ex-militants, and prisoners.
Its areas of work cover conflict resolution, disaster and trauma relief, poverty alleviation, empowerment of women, prisoner rehabilitation, education for all, and campaigns against female foeticide, child labour and for environmental sustainability.
In 2007, the foundation initiated the 'Project Vidarbha – 'Swavalamban programme', with the aim of instructing and supporting farmers in severely drought hit regions to improve their living conditions. Over 1000 volunteers provided training in organic and zero-budget farming, rainwater harvesting, hygiene, and the construction of toilets in addition to the Art of Living course. The foundation received Rs 1.4 million funding from the state Government against its total expenditure of nearly Rs 7.5 million, some of which was self-financed, most of which was raised from corporate donors. A similar initiative was started to educate farmers in Andhra Pradesh to implement 'zero budget farming' to end suicides to due to financial stress.
Mission Green Earth
In partnership with United Nations Millennium Campaign and United Nations Environment Programme the 'Mission Green Earth Stand Up Take Action' campaign was launched in 2008 with a goal to plant 100 million trees across the world to help reduce global warming and protect the environment. In 2010, in Bangladesh the foundation participated in the 'Billion Tree Campaign' started by United Nations Environment Programme.
River Rejuvenation Projects
A three-year program to rejuvenate the Kumudavathi River (in Bangalore) was initiated by the foundation under its 'Volunteer for Better India' campaign in collaboration with civic authorities and environmentalists in February 2013. "The project aims to address the water shortage problems through rainwater harvesting, increasing green cover and de-silting existing step wells, among other methods." Volunteers join the villagers every Sunday to participate in these activities under guidance of a geological scientist. To create awareness about this program, Art of Living founder Ravi Shankar, joined by other NGOs, prominent citizens, civic authorities, farmers and volunteers led a walkathon in Bangalore City. Apart from reviving some water bodies used by birds and animals, the project had revived five water-recharge wells, constructed 74 boulder checks, cleaned up 18 step wells and planted 2,350 saplings in seven villages by June 2014.
Volunteer For a Better India
The Art of Living, along with UN agencies, NGOs and civil society, launched Volunteer For a Better India (VFABI) on 5 December 2012. VFABI is involved in many activities, including protesting against the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case.
In May 2013, 1,634 volunteers distributed medicines worth Rs. 2.2 million under the guidance of 262 doctors to over 20,000 slum dwellers in Delhi through 108 free health camps organized in collaboration with the Indian Medical Association.
Settlement with anonymous bloggers
In 2010, Art of Living sued two anonymous bloggers, "Skywalker" and "Klim", accusing them of defamation, trade libel, copyright infringement and disclosing trade secrets, after they claimed to be former teachers/followers of the organisation and created blogs critical of Art of Living. The Foundation's request to unmask the bloggers' identities was denied, and the judge allowed only the trade secrets claim to go to trial.
In 2012, a settlement was reached under which the foundation dropped the lawsuit without prejudice, compensated the bloggers' attorney fees, and agreed not to prosecute them, or any of their contributors.[better source needed] Skywalker and Klim agreed to freeze their existing blogs with no restriction on starting up new blogs critical of Art of Living.
In 2011 a public-interest litigation petition was filed in the high court alleging that Art of Living had constructed structures encroaching upon the water spread area of Udipalya tank. The irrigation department of the state government of Karnataka inspected the area and found that the foundation had encroached upon 6.53 hectares (16.1 acres) of the tank area and a show cause notice was issued to the foundation.
World Culture Festival on Yamuna flood plains
Art of Living Foundation organised the World Culture Festival held on the Yamuna Flood plains in March 2016. A committee appointed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recommended a fine of Rs 1,200 million on Art of Living Foundation for damaging the ecology of the flood plains. The fine was reduced to Rs 50 million, with no further events to be allowed at that location. After initially disputing the fine, Ravi Shankar declaring that he would rather go to prison, the foundation paid on 3 June 2016.
Burning of the Islamabad center in Pakistan
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