Baba Ramdev Vanguard Of Crusade Against Corruption
As this magazine goes to the press, the yoga-guru Baba Ramdev is all set to sit on his anti-corruption and indefinite fast in Delhi’s historic Ramlila ground on June 4. The UPA Government is deeply worried over the implications, given Baba’s massive popular support all over the country. It is trying to woo him at any cost. On June 1, as many as four cabinet ministers including Pranab Mukherjee rushed to the airport to receive him, a move that has allegedly upset the Congress which felt it was too grand a gesture. The ministers spent more than two hours with the yoga icon at the airport lounge, reassuring him that the government is serious about tackling corruption with a series of measures including a tough new Lokpal Bill (Citizen’s Ombudsman Bill) which is scheduled to be presented in Parliament by the end of this month.
That bill is being drafted by a committee that comprises five ministers with five representatives of civil society led by veteran Gandhian Anna Hazare. Earlier this year, it was Mr Hazare’s hunger strike that served as a call to action for middle class India which organised a series of protests across the country, demanding that the government end decades of lethargy to introduce a Lokpal Bill that will combat corruption within the government and bureaucrats.
Baba Ramdev’s critics say that his fast against corruption is a concerted effort to upstage Mr Hazare—an argument that was bolstered when the Baba contradicted Mr Hazare to state that the Prime Minister and senior judges should not be covered by the Lokpal Bill. Of course, Baba Ramdev has clarified that he had suggested only that this point be debated. Besides, Hazare has cautioned the Baba that he should not compromise with the wily government. “They will trap Ramdev also. They will cheat him. What is the need for so many people (ministers) to go (to airport to receive him)? It was ok for one or two to go,” the Gandhian said at Pune on June 2.
It is widely believed that the government stands to benefit greatly if Ramdev emerges as a parallel power centre in civil society, which at the moment is dominated by Hazare and his team. By courting the Baba, the Congress-led UPA government expects also to neutralise the Opposition BJP, which has been targeting the government for being tolerant of corruption. This is all the more so given Ramdev’s natural affinity with the so-called saffron forces, something that many Congress leaders are aware and critical of.
In fact, the ruling Congress seems a divided house on the strategy of wooing the Baba by their government. Party general secretaries Digvijay Singh and Rashid Alvi are bitter critics of Ramdev’s pro-Hindutva views and sudden riches, which according to them run into Rs 11,000 crore. In fact, on June 2, Singh repeated his tirade against Baba by dubbing him more of a businessman than a ‘sanyasi’. “Even to teach yoga, he charges Rs 50,000 from those who sit in the front seats, Rs 30,000 for the backseat and Rs 1000 for the last seat. What else is this?” he said addressing a meeting. He said that the Congress was not scared of Ramdev. “If Congress was scared, Ramdev would have been put behind bars. There is no fear that is why he is out in the open and there are discussions with him,” he said.
Of course, Singh’s is an outlandish statement in the sense that according to him if anybody is considered a threat to the Congress then he or she would be jailed! Realising perhaps the damage Singh has caused , which many of his party colleagues think to be part of his relentless strategy to woo the Muslim vote-bank, the Congress party on June 2 issued what was called a gag order on the pary leaders against saying anything against Ramdev, at least until the ongoing negotiations with him conclude. Rumours are that if the talks reach the dead-end, then the government will use the stick and deny the Baba the permission to hold the fast anywhere in Delhi.
But then, the Baba is not worried. He told the Press on June 1, “I have the support of the people. The campaign is against corruption, to bring a change in the system. All discussions are in the interest of the nation. Talks with the government on all issues have been positive. I can proceed with talks with government when on fast as well,” Ramdev said. He and his supporters sounded confident of the mass support. They say that the recent burst of scams and the complete negligence and irresponsible behaviour of the political and bureaucratic classes have created a perfect atmosphere for a people’s movement.
Eminent political thinker and activist Govindacharya says: “When society rejects any system, then it is called a movement. Since the conditions changes with the time, the type of movement also changes. Today if we examine, we will find that there are many clashes and movements growing against the different wings of the system. The maximum clash is observed on the issue of land acquisition. Similarly, many clashes are seen on inactiveness of police and injustice done by the administration. Third issue is corruption. This issue very easily catches the attraction of common people. People not only associate themselves with the movement but also want quick solutions. Therefore, wherever they see any possibility, they get associated with that movement.”
A GARGANTUAN PROBLEM
The UPA, for the last seven years on the black money front, has led to popular resentment among the masses. This resentment has also led to the loss of credibility about the political fraternity. This is a dangerous trend and in the longer run may undermine the citizen’s faith in the democratic setup. I would urge the Prime Minister to take immediate action and instill faith among the citizens.
The renowned Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev’s decision to undertake fast unto death from June 4 in New Delhi, against rampant corruption in higher echelons of the society, has sent shockwaves across the world. We in the BJP, have every reason to believe Baba Ramdev’s assertion that black money—to the tune of Rs 400 lakh crore—is lying in several international banks. His assessment has been corroborated by several experts in this field.
The BJP strongly feels that the government should initiate immediate measures to track this national property and get it back so that this money can be used for developmental projects, to ameliorate the deprived sections of the society. Now that the Yoga Guru has decided to take the fight against corruption to the next level—by resorting to the extreme step of fast unto death from June 4 and that 10 crore people of this country will be joining him—the BJP can’t remain a silent spectator. I would earnestly request the Prime Minister to personally intervene and accept Baba Ramdev’s just and reasonable demands for urgent steps to get the black money back, punish the tainted and make strict anti-graft laws. The government should also procure the list of the Indians who have parked their black money abroad and investigate how this money was taken out of the country.
The government should also give a categorical assurance to Baba Ramdev that those arrested recently for corruption in CWG, 2G scam, etc., would be punished and the government would start the process to recover the money. I am glad that the seriousness of Baba Ramdev’s decision to go on fast unto death and its frightening consequences were discussed by the Prime Minister with his Cabinet colleagues. But mere creation of a wing under the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to track and prosecute economic offenders is not going to solve this monumental problem. Nor would issuing appeals to the Yoga Guru to give up his plan is going to defuse the threatening crisis. The government should invite Baba Ramdev for a meaningful dialogue, before it is too late and assure him that an effective foolproof mechanism on the lines suggested by him will be put in place immediately.
(Based on Nitin Gadkari’s letter to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh)
By Nitin Gadkari
Bhrashtachar Mitao Satyagraha
Baba Ramdev has started his nationwide movement against corruption for a long time. In fact, it is noteworthy that Baba Ramdev has initiated his movement against corruption months before that of Hazare. He recently completed one lakh km of Bharat Swabhiman Yatra. During that Yatra, he met lots of people at shivirs in various villages, districts, cities and towns of the country. Then he organised a massive rally against corruption on February 27, 2011, in New Delhi. In that rally many eminent personalities including the “India Against Corruption” showman Anna Hazare. More than one lakh people had participated in that rally. Then Baba Ramdev announced his Bhrashtachar Mitao Satyagraha which includes fast unto death against corruption.
Supporters of Baba Ramdev claim that more than five lakh people will participate in this fast in Delhi, while more than one crore people will participate nationwide. It is estimated that more than 10 crore people will support this satyagraha from more than 100 countries, making it the biggest revolution in all known history. Ramlila Maidan is booked for one month to run the movement. A close associate of Baba Ramdev and a renowned Chartered Accountant Gopal Agarwal says: “Swamiji has created high level of awareness about swadeshi, yoga and ayurved. This movement has brought hope to the masses. The current phase of the movement started with the holding of the joint rally at Jantar Mantar on November 14, 2010, in which most of the present representatives such as Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, Anna Hazare, etc, participated under the leadership of Swami Ramdev.”
CORRUPTION: ROOT CAUSE OF ALL OTHER PROBLEMS
Baba Ramdev has been playing an excellent role for quite sometime to bring the public servants to senses but despite his relentless efforts, there is no heed. Since he is burning inside due to many evils over-powering the humanitarian structure and happy living in the country, he has to take this extreme step of going on ‘fast unto death’ from June 4, to demand black money stashed abroad be brought back and also to alleviate corruption. Though the country is suffering from chronic diseases such as people living below poverty-line (40 crore), inflation, unemployment, illiteracy, rapid population growth, lawlessness, etc., the prime cause of all these menace is corruption—which very few people realise. If corruption is not there, the prosperity is bound to be everywhere.
Therefore, I very much agree and support movement against corruption and other evils. There must be more and more stringent movements teaching good lessons to the people at the helm of governance. For, corruption is the single major threat and root cause of all other problems. This can be very much reduced, if not totally alleviated, if the public servants are sincere. Public servant is a term given by Mahatma Gandhi and enshrined in the Constitution of India and it includes all MPs, ministers, bureaucrats and others who derive the least benefit even one rupee a month from the exchequer. Now, are they our servants today? No—they have become our masters. Bureaucrats are equally responsible for the malady, since they illegally support their masters. They are the ones who make rules, regulations, policies, procedures, etc. They are the real tools in the hands of politicians doing so much damages. Corruption, black money and all other evils are growing rapidly and continuously because the public servants have no morality and consideration about their duties and responsibilities towards the public who provide them power and bread. Collecting money by hook or crook has become their prime motto i.e., money must come; let the country and aam aadmi go to hell.
Most of the political parties have come to power at one time or the other but none had sincere and genuine concern about the uplift of the people. They keep befooling them and keep them in dark all the time, with bogus promises and allurement because they know most of the janta living in villages and labour class in urban is illiterate, innocent and poor, having very little or no knowledge to distinguish between the good and the bad, hence they take undue advantage and keep on befooling them all the time. Changing government means putting different wine in the same bottle under the present Constitution, which has become outdated. The sincere Constitution framer of that time did not apprehend the present situation by the crooks.
Corruption is normally at government level, but private sector is not immune from manipulation and exploitation particularly in business, industry and professions. Unless there is a bribe giver, how will the corruption take place? But businessmen being selfish by nature, have to indulge in this dirty practice. In fact, politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen or industrialists have in collusion looted the country, thus creating irrecoverable misery to the masses. Today it is “the government of the politicians by the bureaucrats and for the wealthy or affluent class”.
By Dr Sitaram Jindal
Emergence of Ramdev as National Leader
Baba Ramdev has emerged as an unquestionable mass leader, who has the ability to challenge and change the system. Initially he taught only yoga for health purpose. While teaching yoga, he had to lay stress on the lifestyle of the people because yoga is not merely a remedial therapy but it is a lifestyle. Besides, Baba Ramdev is not a simple sanyasi, rather he is a sanyasi of the tradition of Maharshi Dayananda—the founder of Arya Samaj. Baba Ramdev started to talk about the swadeshi lifestyle and use of swadeshi products in his yoga shivirs attacking junk food and soft drinks and, thus, some multinational companies. These attacks brought him to limelight, as well as on the target of their opponents too. He has started to raise a number of political, social and economic issues through his yoga camps. Most of the issues raised by him demand a drastic change in the governance policies of the country.
Predictably, Baba Ramdev has been critiicised by many for his interference in the political and social system of the nation. However, it is noteworthy that all that criticism was and is from the media and political class only. General people of the country have largely supported him for his ideas. Gopal Agarwal says: “There is a very thin line between social movement and political movement. The only difference is the participation in the electoral process. In a democratic setup, these activities are only means of creating public awareness and therefore can be equally used by social or political activist. There is nothing wrong in Baba Ramdev’s taking part in social reforms. We have a very long history of sanyasis taking up social reform activities. I think that in the present situation only a sanyasi can occupy high moral ground of checking this corrupt setup where there is complete trust deficit.”
For changing governance policies, Baba Ramdev had initiated a movement named Bharat Swabhiman Andolan along with Rajiv Dixit, the famous orator and leader of the movement named Azadi Bachao Andolan. His Bharat Swabhiman Trust does not talk about yoga and ayurveda, it talks about socio-political issues. Its tone seems similar to that of RSS, and opponents of Ramdev depicted him as a new face of the saffron brigade, which is meant for helping BJP. But soon, it became clear that though Ramdev is supported by RSS workers, he is not controlled or guided by RSS leadership. He has his own agenda. As a part of campaign, Baba Ramdev has been organising yoga camps across India to create awareness amongst people against corruption and black money. He has organised shivirs specialised for different sections of the society including doctors, engineers, software professional, advocates, chartered accountants, ex-soldiers, teachers, etc. In those shivirs he got massive support for his issues and ideas. As famous journalist Ved Pratap Vadic says: “Baba Ramdev is the mightiest person of our country. He is mightier than our Prime Minister too. He is the wealthiest person in terms of money, knowledge and public support, but still he is humble enough to take ideas from anyone. This is his quality, this is his power. He can change the nation.”
Challenges for Ramdev
When Baba Ramdev initiated Bharat Swabhiman Andolan and started debate over several governance-related issues—which were supposed to be debated by the political class only till now—he was often asked if he wanted to participate in the electoral politics. He has clarified many times that he has no political ambitions and is not interested in starting a political party. Now it is a challenge for him as to how he protects his movement so that it would become a tool to change the existing system.
As Govindacharya says: “Every movement has two aspects, confrontation and dialogue. The viability and durability of the confrontation along with outcome of the dialogue and transformation of differences into results, these two decides the fate of any movement. If Baba Ramdev can make a balance between confrontation and dialogue, he will become successful.” The main challenge is whether Baba Ramdev would be able to change the present system or not. India has witnessed the Sampoorna Kranti movement led by Loknayak Jai Prakash Narayan. It was meant for total change in the system but at the end we got only change in the persons in the power. Therefore, it is a matter for observation in what direction the movement led by Ramdev goes?
By Ravi Shankar