Yoga guru Ramdev says breathe easy, Modi’s demonetisation move is good for India

I’ve got your back.
I’ve got your back.
Image: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
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Yoga guru-turned-entrepreneur Ramdev has spoken again, this time praising the Narendra Modi government’s decision to demonetise high-value currency denominations. Lauding the move to clamp down the circulation of black money and fake currency, Ramdev has been making statements through the week.

Though he does not lend his name to any political party in India, the founder of Patanjali Ayurved, a rapidly- growing consumer goods maker, has in the past backed anti-corruption movements that have demanded the repatriation of unaccounted Indian money stashed in off-shore accounts.

“By demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination notes, prime minister Narendra Modi ji has dealt a severe blow to corruption, black money, terrorism, and fake currency business,” Ramdev said on the sidelines of an event in the capital on Nov. 13. “All these are the economic challenges that the country is facing,” he said.

Growing anxiety over the scarcity of the new currency notes and long queues at banks and ATMs have fueled public outrage as households find it hard to access the new Rs2,000 and Rs500 notes. However, Ramdev sought citizens’ cooperation.

“Instead of blaming, I urge people to cooperate with the government in this endeavor to clean up the system. When there is a war, soldiers face many hardships and starve for weeks. Can’t we, for the welfare of the nation, endure this hardship for a few days?” Ramdev asked.

In the news over the past few months for his rising consumer goods empire under the Patanjali Ayurved banner, the saffron-clad guru had earlier this year expressed dissatisfaction at the government’s inability to curb black money.

However, on Thursday, in a panel discussion with author Chetan Bhagat, Ramdev openly supported Modi’s decision while also highlighting drawbacks in execution. He acknowledged that such a ban could hit business at Patanjali, which wants to double its turnover by March 2017. Since demonetisation was announced, households have been cutting back on expenditure and retailers have expressed concerns over a slump in business.

“Patanjali’s revenue target this year was Rs10,000 crore, but might be hit by demonetisation…(but we) can bear it in national interest,” he said.

He reminded the audience of his own role in the movement for abolishing black money back in 2011. “Many years ago… people made fun of me when I said these (currency notes) should go,” Ramdev said.