THE NEW MOSES

Yoga guru Ramdev believes he is the knight who will rescue Indians from foreign MNCs’ slavery

Quartz india
Quartz india

Yoga guru-turned-entrepreneur Ramdev is on a crusade against MNCs in India.

And he looks to use his Rs5,000-crore Patanjali Ayurved to ensure that Indian money remains in India.

In an interview published in the Economic Times newspaper on Sept. 05, Ramdev made the bizarre accusation that, “financial slavery is the root cause of all miseries that these MNCs have brought into India such as live-in relationship and homosexuality.”

“You become slaves of foreign companies in terms of thinking, lifestyle, and beliefs,” Ramdev said.

And guess who, according to him, will protect Indians from such “western ideas.” The saffron-clad yoga guru and his swadeshi Patanjali, of course. Swadeshi means “of one’s own country.”

The 50-year-old’s narrative finds its roots in India’s Swadeshi movement during the country’s struggle for independence from British rule in the early half of the 20th century. To wreck the economic foundations of colonial rule in India, several leaders of that era, such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak and later Mahatma Gandhi, asked Indians to ditch British goods for local produce. In the post-independence period, Hindu nationalist groups have often raked up “swadeshi” to whip up nationalistic hysteria.

Ramdev’s rhetoric is evidently the next lap.

Swadeshi has already staged a comeback. People are not only buying swadeshi products but are also spreading the message of swadeshi,” said Ramdev.

Ramdev himself carries a Micromax mobile phone made by an Indian company and shuttles around in a Range Rover Evoque, a heavy-duty SUV made by Jaguar Land Rover, now owned by Mumbai-based Tata Motors.

He has always held that Patanjali’s profits will be used for charity and not given as dividends to shareholders. “We are giving back to the country whatever we are earning,” he said in the interview.

For what it’s worth, this emotional campaign to sway the Indian middle-class consumer seems to be working.

For the year ending March 31, 2016, Patanjali’s turnover more than doubled to Rs5,000 crore from Rs2,006 crore from a year ago. For the financial year 2015, Patanjali doubled its profits to Rs308.79 crore up from Rs.154.70 crore in 2014. MNCs are feeling the heat.

And the guru is no mood to slow down. As he has said before, “This is only going to get bigger.”

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