Baba Ramdev is a phenomenon – no one can deny that. He appeared from nowhere about 20 years back and with him came the Yoga wave in the country. He is a Hindu Sadhu – there is no doubt that he lets in creep there. However, he hardly talks religion. He talks health and in the last few years, he talks business. His Patanjali brand of products has made a dent in the business of largest FMCG companies. Will this dent sustain and grow or will it fade away only time will tell?
Kaushik Deka is a journalist with India Today. He did a couple of big stories on Baba Ramdev for his magazine. I assume that is how the idea of doing this book must have been born. Kaushik does not mention this in the book. He did meet Baba Ramdev for magazine stories, but it seems he never met him for this book. He says Baba Ramdev speaks to him regularly and sometimes even seeks his opinion – indicating an easy access he has to him. A sense of easy camaraderie is what his introduction to the book tells us between the author and the subject. However, it is not an authorized biography of the Yoga Guru and there are reasons for that. Read on.
Baba Ramdev’s Journey
In this small quick read book, perfectly sized for the reader of this age and time, you do discover a few things about Baba Ramdev’s journey. The first thing that I noticed was his age – he is just about 52. On public platforms I have always seen him elude the question of age, maybe he thought he is too young for his kind of influence he commands. Or maybe he was just keeping a mystery around him. You get to read a bit about his journey – from his school days in rural Haryana to his dealing with his own paralysis.
Initial entrepreneurial days of Baba Ramdev and Acharya Bal Krishna are interesting. Patanjali may be the first known brand to come from the Sadhu community of India. Or maybe not – I think Rahul Sankrityayan wrote a book on the similar journey of a Sadhu.
Read More – Ghumakkar Swami by Rahul Sankrityayan
After the initial introduction to the background of Baba Ramdev, Kaushik moves to his business empire. He talks about the journey, he talks about what worked in their favor and where they took favors. He speaks in numbers like a true journalist quoting sources from advertising agencies to newspaper reports. You get a decent glimpse of the Patanjali as a business empire. You know the investors, you know the wide range of products already there those in their plans, you know their bestsellers and you know about their facilities in different parts of the country.
I have one issue with the books written by journalists. They write them like newspaper reports – meant at this point in time reading. The book publishing process takes much longer than a newspaper or a magazine publishing schedule. So, by the time you read the book, most data in the book is dated. Reporting style writing also presents the facts to you and then leave them to your interpretation. You never get to hear the author’s voice or his observations.
Having said that, Kaushik Deka does present a balanced view of Ramdev Baba and his business. He presents his USP as a yoga guru and the connect he has established with Indians through Ayurveda. He tells you about the controversies he has been in – including the irregularities in his businesses. And he talks about his quick business expansion but points out that quality of products may not be what Baba wants you to believe. I was surprised to know that his Cow ghee is made from butter sourced from different parts of the country. Personally, I used a few Patanjali products and have serious doubts about their quality.
He talks about his influence on the governments both central and state. He talks about his role in promoting Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate. Also, he talks about Baba’s potential disappointments with Modi as he has not implemented a lot he promised. His being a spiritual personality gives him access to almost anyone in the country and among NRIs. No wonder they lend him the support for all his initiatives. Kaushik Deka talks about Baba being media savvy and understanding the value of direct connection with the audience. Though we always see him speaking in Hindi and doing so with pride – it’s interesting to know he is practicing English speaking for the global audience.
Read More – Biography of Narendra Modi
The book overall gives you a good glimpse of Baba Ramdev and his journey to date. You get snippets of his success mantra. What we all need to see is if he can sustain this surge both in his popularity and his business. His intentions are good, his biggest focus ‘Swadeshi’ and make in India. How much India’s future be influenced by his ventures – we shall see.
Buy The Baba Ramdev Phenomenon From Moksha to Market by Kaushik Deka at Amazon.
An interesting point in time read.
Pick it up for a quick read on a 2-3 hour flight or a coffee break.