Ramdev’s ‘divine’ reaction against corruption


“Violating all temporal standards of morality, justice and freedom, Fascism claims divine sanctions.”— M.N. Roy

Thanks to Anna Hazare, the government was recently forced to confront the question of corruption in a fashion that it was left with no choice but to form an ‘independent’ representative institution tasked with graft control. Rama Krishna Yadav, aka Baba Ramdev, stood beside him. It was not the first time that the “Baba” was in politics. In mid 2010, he went on a rally with other ‘babas’ in Haridwar demanding the cleaning of Ganga. Ramdev, not unlike all others, is political. Now, however, he has come to be the embodiment of a particular ideology. If his projects are carefully scrutinised in the context of the Indian economy, the political-economic basis for his ideology becomes evident.

The Baba came into limelight because of his simple methods, which he called pranayams and asanas, for curing arthritis and ulcers and relieving stress. It was initially embraced as a practice by those sections of the Indian public that suffered from those physical/mental troubles without any hope of redress, thanks to the profit-centred and unhinged Indian healthcare system in its private and public avatars respectively. These ‘yogic’ practices proved to be helpful and the Baba became an instant hit. He held ‘shivirs’ (camps) throughout India and had thousands of people attending them. Ramdev became a pranayam guru. Then came the second phase when he claimed he could cure cancer. And in some television channels dedicated to ‘religion and spirituality’ you had people validating his claims. Ramdev has an ayurvedic ‘trust’ that sells powders, herbal medicinal products and so on. In a recent interview to Shekhar Gupta (NDTV Walk the Talk), the so-called baba claimed his turnover between 2006 and 2011 had been Rs 1,100 crore. This, according to him, had come from the 10 crore people who apparently believed in him. It must be noted here that the sale of Ramdev’s ayurvedic products has been on a steady rise. They can be found in all major cities. This is how Ramdev, the yoga guru, became Ramdev, the ayurvedic capitalist. Now he virtually owns several hundred acres of lands in the UK, to where his market has expanded. The costs Ramdev’s ‘trust’ charges for those products can be seen on the webpage http://www.pypt.org/35-membership.html.

Soon after the ‘Anna Hazare movement’ we now have the Baba Ramdev movement. Hazare seems to have passed the baton of anti-corruption rolled in Gandhian satyagraha to Ramdev in a relay movement of sorts. But clearly ‘the Ramdev movement’ has the compulsion to display a different kind of political dynamism.

And the specificity of this display of political dynamism stems from Ramdev’s capitalist project premised upon claims, and sometimes proof, that ancient Indian medical science is superior to modern medical science. He has been able to convince people on that count and hence his market is expanding. But when the question of ancient India comes, can the great defenders of that “great culture” be far behind? The ‘Ramdev movement’ has, not surprisingly, drawn the support of the RSS-BJP. A fascistic movement seems to be re-emerging, this time with a popular leader and a popular issue (anti-corruption) at the centre.

On May 13, Ramdev wrote a letter to the prime minister. The following are the three (sic) demands he put forth in that missive:

1. To bring back to the nation Rs 400 trillion (US$ 9 trillion) of black money that is national wealth.

1.1. Create a law to declare money stashed away in foreign accounts as national assets.

1.2. Create a law for foreign account policy where each citizen having a foreign account has to disclose complete information.

1.3 Sign US Convention against Corruption, thus paving the way for getting black money back. (He probably means UN Convention against corruption http://www.unodc.org/documents/treaties/UNCAC/Publications/Convention/08-50026_E.pdf.)

1.4. Recall high-denomination currency i.e., 500- and 1,000-rupee notes and make 100-rupee notes as sparsely available as possible.

2. To stamp out corruption fully by enacting stringent laws for a capable Lok Pal that should have three important points:

2.1. It should be able to punish any official irrespective of designation if found guilty.

2.2. Any person should be able to file an FIR against corruption and if proofs are provided then the Lok Pal should be able to take action against the guilty.

2.3. Once a fast-track court declares a person guilty of corruption then he or she should be given harsh punishment like death sentence or life imprisonment if corruption involves crores or lakhs of rupees. The law should have the provision to declare assets of all such persons national assets.

3. To end foreign laws, customs and culture prevailing in the independent Bharat so that every Indian can get economic and social justice. We should follow Mahatma Gandhi’s book named Hind Swaraj that says that after Independence we need to remove the British system and adopt the Bharatiya system.

3.1. We need to abolish the Land Acquisition Act 1984 because by using this Act the government is exploiting farmers. A farmer who is the producer of food is not respected and is getting killed daily by wrong government policies. We need to impose a complete ban on genetically-modified food, which is dangerous for the health of citizens of this nation.

3.2. On the language issue the whole nation is suffering because 99% of people do not know English. When countries like Japan, China, France, Germany, Denmark, Russia, etc. educate their citizens in their own language and produce doctors, scientists, engineers, etc. then why cannot we do so in our own national and native languages. Each of our languages has more words than any foreign language. Why are we neglecting and giving such a low importance to our own languages. Technological innovations and inventions do not depend upon a language, it is a function of human intellect and mind and the world is a witness that Bharatiya’s thinking and mind is one of the best in the world. The language of law, justice, science, engineering, medicine and so on should be in our national or regional languages. Only then will smart kids of poor people be able to become scientists, doctors and engineers.

3.3. Why are we given Macaulay’s education, which was created to make Indians into Englishmen and why are 34,735 laws created by the British still imposed on this nation? Why are people of this country still tortured and humiliated by using those laws in the same way as the British would do.

3.4. When Bharat has given the world physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, all social sciences, law and justice system, astrology, astronomy, astrophysics, social structure, time (days, years), names of planets, economics, a cultured society and highly-advanced philosophy, and spirituality to the whole world then why are we always taught that everything is developed by the western world? We ought to give highest preference to our own culture.

3.5. Although the democratic system is best in the world but it has its demerits too. Had we not had this faulty law and order system in our country then such a big conspiracy would not have been created, and so much corruption would not have happened and our people would not be in such a bad condition. So it is imperative that those people, who are indulging this conspiracy in the name of democracy and are looting this nation through corruption, are changed together with the system. State-funding of elections, election of the prime minister directly by the citizens of this nation through mandatory voting should be there. Thus only honest people will come to power and then only strong democracy and a high-value parliament will be formed. We want to make it clear that we do not want to change the Constitution of India created by Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar but want to change the system created by the British and still followed. Example, Land acquisition act was not created by the Late Shri Bhimrao Ambedkar but by the British and so was Macaulay’s education system.

After that, the Baba went on a hunger strike demanding the fulfillment of his demands. On June 5, at around 1 in the morning, police attacked Ramdev and his supporters. Apparently, Ramdev’s demands might seem stupid and, at best, populist, but if one examines them carefully one will find in them a whole buffalo-nationalistic, imperialistic project at work designed to empower national capital. Whether this is the result of deliberate manoeuvring or spontaneous reaction doesn’t matter. What matters is that danger looms over the Indian working class. The ‘satyagraha’ and an attack on the ‘satyagrahis’ by the Congress-led Union government can be understood only if the social base of the Congress and its allies and the contradiction that exists between it and the social base of figures such as Ramdev and political groups such as the sangh parivar is taken into account.

If the movement unfolds we shall not only see the demon that has always been around — the Indian State and the current government that typifies it — but another more dangerous one in the making: the mass as a murderous mob under the ideological, if not political, leadership of sangh parivar and similar right-wing forces.

The Congress and its UPA government are doing the only thing it can do: defend the interests of its big bourgeois class base and its ideology. The bourgeois media, on the other hand, is doing its job well in terms of defending and promoting an “innocent” Ramdev. Meanwhile, the disaffection and dissent of the socially dominated working masses, in the absence of a revolutionary working-class ideology and force, inevitably ends up being articulated through and in that ideology of defence for a godman of reaction.

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