Arnold Schwarzenegger Addresses Energy Summit on First India Visit

Arnold Schwarzenegger
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During his one-day visit to New Delhi, the former California governor cited Gandhi as an inspiration to speed up green energy awareness.

NEW DELHI – Arnold Schwarzenegger joined the growing list of Hollywood A-listers visiting India for the first time when he landed in the capital to address the 12th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit held Thursday.

The DSDS is organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and has emerged as an important forum on global sustainability issues.

The Terminator star jetted into New Delhi late Wednesday night, checking into the Taj Palace Hotel where he was welcomed with a traditional Indian garland. He soon posted a picture of himself with the garland on his Twitter account, stating “This is how they greeted me in Delhi. Does anyone have some good restaurants or other tips?”
Schwarzenegger's arrival at the opening of the summit held at the Taj Palace Hotel Thursday morning created an expected flurry as delegates and photographers jostled to take pictures.

In his address, the former California governor said he wished to instill in people a similar enthusiasm for the environment as he did earlier for body-building. 

“I began to weight train at the age of 15 and was awarded the title of Mr Universe at 20. At that time I wanted to inspire people to be fitness conscious. Now it feels great to see gyms in offices, in schools, in hotels. Fitness was my crusade then, and green is my crusade now. When I started, there were no weight rooms anywhere. But I was happy to find a weight room at this hotel when I woke up this morning. If body-building can become a fad, why can't adopting sustainable means also become popular?”

Calling for an urgent need to promote energy and environment issues, Schwarzenegger cited the examples of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King to trigger a movement.

“Most powerful movements in history, like that of (fighting) apartheid, the American civil war and the fight for India's independence (from British rule) started at the grass roots level by a single person, like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King... They did not wait for the higher ups, they were all started at the grassroots... Gandhi used the spinning wheel and wanted India to be self-sufficient. The wheel denotes motion. Don't wait. Never stop moving.”

Praising India for promoting renewable energy measures, the actor said, “India believes in action too and renewable accounts for 11 percent of the total energy mix in the country.”  He also added that California's green economy “is booming. The state is 40 per cent more energy efficient than the rest of the U.S.”

Citing an example of how he is inculcating awareness for energy issues amongst his children, the 64-year-old father of five said, “I told my children to switch off the lights after they leave the room. I told them if they didn't, I would remove all the bulbs. Once when they realized all the bulbs had been removed, they learned their lesson.”

He also referred to how he replaced the engine in his energy-guzzling Hummer with a hydrogen version.

Schwarzenegger is currently filming his comeback vehicle The Last Stand, helmed by Korean action director Kim Jee-Woon, which co-stars Zach Gilford and Forest Whitaker.

“I was shooting for The Last Stand and I asked them to speed up filming, so that I could be free to come here. I always wanted to come to this land of culture and tradition...It's lovely to be here, where I am not the only one who speaks English with an accent.”

Later the actor posted another picture of himself at one of India's most famous restaurants Bukhara (whose guests have included Barack Obama and Bill Clinton) with a giant naan (a traditional bread), “I loved the food. I've loved my first trip to India. Here I am with the biggest piece of naan in Delhi.”

Schwarzenegger was also expected to give the Green Globe environment award to Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan for outstanding efforts by a celebrity towards a greener future. The Green Globe Foundation Awards were instituted by the International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFA) in 2008  in partnership with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and TERI.

However, Schwarzenegger was not present at the evening awards ceremony where Bachchan received the honor from TERI director and Nobel Laureate Dr. R. K. Pachauri.

But before jetting out early Friday morning, Schwarzenegger posted a message on his Twitter account for Bachchan,

“Congrats on the Green Globe. More celebrities should be pumping up green progress. I'll be back, & we should get together.”