Ramkishen Yadav, popularly known as Baba Ramdev, is an Indian Yoga Guru and a business tycoon. He is perceived as someone who popularized Yoga beyond India. He owns a multinational Ayurvedic conglomerate called ‘Patanjali’ that trades in billions.
Riding on the bandwagon of the BJP’s Hindu nationalism, Ramdev launched an ‘indigenous’ brand, claiming to counter foreign MNCs extracting profits from the Indian market. Initially, he sold ayurveda-based non-prescription medicines and cosmetics, slowly making his way into selling ‘cow urines’ to ‘sanskari ripped jeans’ to what not.
He used to be somewhat more tolerant and reasonable prior to Modi coming to power in 2014. He campaigned aggressively for the BJP, and Narendra Modi in 2014, and in return, Modi and other BJP leaders endorsed his branding.
Post Modi, his enterprise’s boom reeks of crony capitalism.According to a 2017 Reuters investigation report titled ‘As Modi and his right-wing Hindu base rise, so too does a celebrity yoga tycoon’, Ramdev’s company has received more than an estimated $46 million in discounts for land acquisitions in states controlled by the BJP, according to a Reuters review of state government documents, interviews with officials and real estate estimates. It gained access to other lands free of charge. The firm, Patanjali, has also received something of an official approval from a newly-created Ministry of Aayush, Government of India, and BJP leaders.
Revenues at his consumer goods enterprise soared – from about $156 million in the financial year ending March 2013 to more than $322 million in the year to March 2015, according to financial filings. In early May, Ramdev said revenues in the financial year just ended had jumped to about $1.6 billion.
According to Financial Express (17 September 2022), Company’s total turnover was 400 billion rupees, which it seeks to double within five years.
He competes in the market by simply deriding and hurling baseless allegations against other competitors while his own credentials as an expert on Ayurveda lie in serious doubt. He once called medical science ‘stupid,’ called the doctors ‘killers’, and went on to say ‘millions of people died due to allopathic medicines’.
He is a proponent of cow protection and endorses the fallacy of ‘love jihad.’ He said in an interview, “Hindu girls should themselves do justice with those (Muslim boys) who are involved in Love jihad, although courts are there..”
He blamed Tablighi Jamaat (a Muslim association that preaches self-reflection within muslim community) for spreading the coronavirus and causing financial losses to the Government of India. He falsely accused Tablighi Jamaat that they cherish the desire to transform and Islamicize the entire world.
His popularity owes a lot to his high-powered political links, he boastfully says, “Modi-ji is a close friend, it’s not good form to praise yourself.” He added, “I won’t say much, but I prepared the ground for the big political changes that occurred (Modi came to power in 2014).”
In Feb 2023, at a rally in Barmer, Rajasthan, he spewed anti-Muslim and Christian diatribes, he said “Muslims offer namaz five times a day and then do whatever sin that comes to mind. They kidnap Hindu girls..become terrorists, and a lot of them are criminals.. Our Muslim brothers commit a lot of sins, but they definitely offer namaz as they are taught to do so.”
He further compared it to Hinduism, claiming that the religion and ‘Sanatan Dharma’ taught its followers to “do yoga, not indulge in violence, be early risers and engage in kind deeds by worshiping God.” Commenting on how Muslims dress, he said mockingly, “for them, heaven means wearing pajamas over ankles, cutting their mustaches, and wearing caps. I am not saying that the Quran or any Islam tells them to do this. But that’s how people are doing it.”
A police complaint has been filed against Ramdev in the matter.