Ramdev: India’s Page 3, celebrity Baba

Posted on by Rubi
 
  

Monday evening’s news edition reported that Baba Ramdev will enjoy cabinet status while serving as Haryana’s brand ambassador.

Well, it’s surely in line with Baba’s political ambition…. a soft launch. He appears to have debunked his own past theory that non-political life is one of the norms of good conduct.

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The saffron-robed yoga guru will be allotted a plush ministerial bungalow and given a fat pay check. He presently enjoys a State car with the same beacon, security detail and escort that he so vociferously campaigned against not too long ago.

There is a growing perception among people that his political ambition may finally be unravelling itself, and the route taken couldn’t have been better designed. He first established himself as the supreme authority on yoga, shrewdly drawing the attention of the political establishment, who were so mesmerised by Baba’s spiritual and yogic powers that they began prostrating before him.

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Secure and confident in the knowledge that his political connections will bail him out in case of any enquiry into his business venture, spanning multiple countries and reaping millions of dollars, Ramdev was unstoppable and his mindset irreversible.

It’s ironic that Ramdev has been spearheading the protest against black money in the country while his own personal accounts remain under scrutiny. The revenue department believes that the activities of Ramdev’s trusts are commercial in nature and are far from charitable works.

Charitable works? There is a widespread belief that it is just a smokescreen he has cunningly used over the years. Behind the cover-up lies the shady underbelly of Baba’s business empire.

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The Uttarakhand Government in late 2013 slapped 81 cases against Baba Ramdev for his ashram’s Benami land deals, and for illegally encroaching gram sabha land. The Hardwar district administration has also charged the yoga guru’s Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust of illegally intruding on approximately eight acres of government land in Shantar Shah and Aurangabad villages.

One would imagine Baba to be grateful to Uttarakhand for facilitating the setting up of ashrams and farm lands for research into ayurvedic medicines, but his greed for more clearly exposes lack of morality and shame.

Isn’t his greed horrible? Besides herbal medicines and essential oils, his factory is also making flour, oil, juices, honey, soaps, toothpaste and shampoo. Tomorrow, he will delve into making herbal whiskey &wine, who knows?  This type of unrestrained and aggressive expansion is going unchecked. The authorities are unwilling to ruffle his feathers because of his closeness to the political leaders.

The details of his multi-crore assets revealed by the IT were valued at 11 billion rupees, out of which about 4.26 billion was the capital invested into the four trusts and the expenditures incurred by them were valued at 7.51 billion.

Sadly, he continues to enjoy immunity from all prosecution.

Remember the forceful eviction from Delhi and his escape dressed in a woman’s clothing at Ramlila Maidan? It reflected his weak sense of commitment. His buffoonery and vulgarity was nauseating. If he truly believed in the cause, he should have stood his ground and face the authorities.

Does India need such kind of commercially-driven gurus? It was all very nice till the time he taught yoga, but his foray into politics, social activism and commercial activities truly reveal his ulterior motives and raises serious questions.

There have been past reports that indicated Ramdev’s penchant for drinking whiskey and wine. He has been known to secretively indulge in activities unbecoming of his position as a spiritual leader. He has made irresponsible comments from time to time and has amassed wealth of immense proportion.

There have been enough and more cases of corruption where such spiritual gurus exploit people’s blind faith in them. People like Asaram Bapu, Nirmal Baba and the others are the bane of society. They are responsible for misleading people and in many cases, looting them.

How is Ramdev any different? This is how: he is shrewd, calculative, he knows which side to choose and remains well connected.

And we revere such men. Why should India notice, let alone worship, a Baba who is against globalization, believes in a welfare state, who thinks that sex education should be banned in schools and homosexuality is a disease? His disdain for such issues reveals his deeply entrenched, narrow-minded views.

Ramdev claims that he incidentally met Acharya Balkrishna, ‘a kindred soul and a schoolmate’, at the Gangotri caves of lofty Himalayas, where both were on a ‘similar quest’. Balakrishna, instead, is alleged to be a criminal on the run from Nepal and is being investigated for procuring a fake Indian passport and for violating the Arms Act. This is the kind of company India’s self-appointed national saint keeps.

His medicines have a reputation to cure incurable, life threatening diseases. Surely, people have benefitted from yoga. For some, even the medicines may have worked… but it’s an overall image of magic that was crafted with great care and patience. The reality is disturbing and annoying.

In a private, candid chat late last year, a resident follower of Ramdev advised a small group of tourists, who were visiting the ashram in Uttarakhand, to refrain from buying any of the numerous ayurvedic products on offer. Perhaps, his conscience pricked him.

In fact, he’d been meaning to confront Baba on the various unethical and commercially-driven issues involved in the manufacturing of herbal medicines, but felt weak kneed every time the moment arose. In a nutshell, he revealed: “Have you noticed that the labels, pricing, manufacturing date & expiry, and the ingredients involved… they all appear suspect. They are unverified and privately decided. I have personally witnessed complaints of side effects and reactions given quick burial, nipped in the bud. Questionable tactics are deployed to prevent sufferers from leaking the hidden, dark side of Ramdev’s business of healing.”

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It was a stunning revelation… quick and secretive. As if the man desperately wanted to get the load off his chest.

Why do we tolerate such people?  Besides being a gifted yoga practitioner, what else are his credentials? Is he enlightened? At best, he gives transfixing and intuitive speeches.

Gurus have, since ages, tried to gain, hold on to and increase influence and power, by fair means or foul. Baba Ramdev is simply conforming to the age-old tradition. And he is enjoying it.

We are all allowed to take leave of our senses and easily follow people like Ramdev, Asaram Bapu, Nirmal Baba and the likes. Question is, why do we never wake up to the reality? Why don’t we collectively protest the elevated pedestal graciously offered to them by our representatives?

They should be made obsolete. There should be no space for these men in the 21st century. They should be forced into extinction. They are out-of-date.

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About the Author

Whether it’s women issues, politics or the paranormal, Rubi has an opinion on everything. Art and entertainment interest her, too. Hindu College alumni, she has written for The Hindustan Times and The Financial Express. Every now and then, she loves picking up her camera to capture life and its various shades.