God Save India And Indian Democracy
The recent controversy over Baba Ramdev and the conduct of the Indian media on the issue has been confounding rather nauseating. The people of this country were very much aware about his yogic and therapeutic following and the agriculture and commercial backup he had created to support his yoga and ayurveda therapy mission. He neither claimed to possess divine powers nor people treated him divine. His personal lifestyle did not betray any hint of indulgence or opulence. With increase in popularity, there is a corresponding growth in any organisational setup to meet the demands and aspirations of the people. It is so with all religious and social organisations around the world.
The moot questions are therefore whether or not there is transparency about the organisational assets of the Baba and the purpose it is used for. Baba Ramdev’s yoga sessions were purely voluntary and there was no coercion or even persuasion to buy his ayurvedic formulations.
The media not only began to question the assets of the Baba, but also ascribed political ambitions. Ironically, some of these foremost media organisations are controlled and funded by Church organisations. The details are easily accessible on the internet.
We Indians have been hardly mindful of criminal, financial and dynastic route to political power, but have generally disfavoured purely religious route to politics. Therefore, if Baba Ramdev was to use his yogic and curative attributes for gaining political power, the people of this country would have dumped him. It is doubtful that even Gandhi with his ways and moral and religious convictions would have been of any significance in electoral arena.
There can be little doubt that Baba Ramdev simplified Yoga and took it to the masses, to the extent that some countries began to declare yoga as repugnant and blasphemous to their dominant religious beliefs.
Baba Ramdev’s yoga and his yogic message endeared him to the people. This author has met scores of people, both educated and uneducated, who had benefited immensely from his prescribed yogic exercises. No Indian ever tried to create the halo of ‘godliness’ around the Baba. The discerning and educated people ignored his claims that they thought were inadequate and unempirical and focused on his strengths, which he has in plenty.
Baba Ramdev exuded a deep patriotic fervour and pride in India’s past, its ancient wisdom to include yoga, ayurvedic therapy and way of life. His sense of nationalism can be debated, but cannot be denied. He spoke of unity and stressed on transcending caste and communal divide. Significantly, Ramdev, born in a Yadav family, proved that caste in India is superficial and Indians do not distinguish based on merits of birth when it comes to accepting someone as Guru. He validated the ancient Indian saying “Jat na poochiye sadhu ki, pooch lijye gyan”never ask the caste of a sadhu, concern yourself with his wisdom.
What is more important the message or the messenger? If the messenger is more important then every parent or teacher forfeits the right to enjoying upon children to outperform them, or not fall prey to habits, which they regret and find difficult to kick. If the message was correct, then why has the media gone to abysmal levels in vilifying the Baba in what clearly is a motivated campaign. There have been bizarre comments from some politicians that the Baba should continue with his primary profession of that of a ‘yoga guru’ and keep away from politics and matters of national interests. If this comment is applied to the political class, then many of them should have continued being barristers at the time of independence and post independence as lawyers, doctors, gangsters, criminals, police inspectors, waiters and waitresses. Unlike politicians in power, at least the people of this country have a choice with regard to babas.
There is much ado about scientific basis of various forms of medicine prescribed by Ramdev. It may be remembered that of the around thousand primary allopathic drugs only around 40- 50 are based on empirical studies, the rest have evolved by the basis of trial. Some of the biggest names in various disciplines of medicine in India, I know have been seeking treatment from Baba Ramdev for ailments that they have spent a lifetime in specialising. If nothing else, the babas and the spiritual gurus are the Indian version of psychotherapists.
Baba Ramdev’s campaign against corruption particularly Indian money stashed in Swiss bank has been on for three years. He did not pull the agenda from thin air. He only stepped in to ride the rising anger over unprecedented and unbridled corruption that is consuming the country. The haggling and deals for portfolios by politicians and coalition partners was not lost out on the people. The intransigence of the DMK over certain portfolios during the formation of the current government was clear indication that the party was going to go for the kill right from the outset. The 2G scam therefore did not come as surprise. What angered people was the dithering and denials. People do have the simple intelligence to figure out that when a politician roots for a particular portfolio, it is not merely for power but money as well. Neither are the people blind to the role of money in electoral manipulations and the high life of politicians and their cronies including those who have ceased to be legislators.
People are also not unaware about the politician-bureaucrat nexus. Today most bureaucrats and judges do not retire. There is hardly any retired DGP of police who does not have half a dozen serving policemen as domestic help. Public sector enterprises have become personal fiefdom of politicians and bureaucrats. Indians having money in Swiss bank is not a new phenomenon but what has outraged people is its magnitude and government indifference.
The common man has to contend everyday with the state apparatus. Their frustration has acquired explosive levels because the very institutions they relied to reform the system themselves became corrupt or abettors of corruption. They began to view national security threats and terrorism from the prism of corruption. They began to construe cases of corruption as acts of anti-nationals. It is in this environment that Ramdev emerged.
Corruption affects one and all. Its greatest and ultimate victim is government. Corruption alienates, derides and brutalises the very people politicians claim to represent. The symbiosis between corruption, crime, communalism and terrorism is becoming increasingly intricate. The government and all other political parties should have been therefore part of the anti-corruption campaign. The people of India were yearning for that kind of response.
Instead, the government adopted an adversarial attitude. For some reasons it looked vulnerable, uncomfortable and defensive right from the outset. It then resorted to dirty tricks. It tried to neutralise Ramdev’s campaign by foisting Anna Hazare on unsuspecting Indian people. The sudden emergence of Anna Hazare and his team of so-called ‘Civil Society’ representatives till today remains a mystery.
As the deadline approached, the frequency and vulgarity of threats from the Government increased. Ramdev calculated that come morning, it would not be possible for the government to use force to disperse the very large gathering expected to have congregated by then. The very next morning, he was to press the government to release the names of the list of Indians having money in Swiss Banks, reportedly sent by Germany.
Then there was the crackdown and vilification campaign against Ramdev by third rate politicians and a section of the subverted media.
We have come to a stage where being nationalist or patriotic has become disqualification or blasphemy. God save India and Indian Democracy.
By RSN Singh