‘Is India only a place for Pak artists to earn crores and not comment on terror?’ : Baba Ramdev

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New Delhi | Published: October 30, 2016 6:24:10 AM

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, founder of Patanjali Ayurved, was the guest at Express Adda held in Delhi last week, where he spoke about politics, yoga, religion, global economics and Patanjali’s expansion plans as it forays into dairy and textiles

(From left) Anant Goenka, Executive Director, The Express Group, yoga guru Baba Ramdev, and Vandita Mishra, National Opinion Editor, The Indian Express (From left) Anant Goenka, Executive Director, The Express Group, yoga guru Baba Ramdev, and Vandita Mishra, National Opinion Editor, The Indian Express

On joining politics

Apart from being an ascetic, I am also a citizen of India and I am answerable to my country. That is why whenever there is a political crisis, I should do what I feel is best for the country. Politics is not my full-time occupation. In 2010, I announced a political party, as the country had come to a political standstill. I’m just a man from a village and have no political ambitions. Like they would say in my village, Sonia Gandhi ne meri koi bhains thodi na khol rakhi hai, which means we have no animosity against her. As far as the question of a political alternative goes, when I first started my movement in 2009, there was no strong political alternative and that is when I said there needs to be a respectable political institution in place, something I believe in till today.

On PM Modi

I have known (Narendra) Modiji for 15 years, and we have had some meetings before the 2014 elections. During those meetings, he told me that he supported my vision for a beautiful India by rooting out black money, not 100% but 200%. And as you know, I’ve said not once but several times that I have no political ambition. I have no desire to become an MP, CM or PM. I just want my country to prosper and am prepared to do anything to make that happen, but I will not brook any political partnerships. That is because of my resolution to provide the country with a strong political alternative and as I came to realise that Modiji was that alternative, I put all my trust in him as has the rest of the country. We all hope and believe that he will prove to be the most successful prime minister the country has ever seen.

On his business interests

We have just launched four verticals in the market for which there are around 4,500 distributors and an entire supply chain has been set up. There are various production units and R&D facilities where we’ve employed 200 scientists. We’ve already invested R250 crore and we’ll be putting in another R500 crore into research. People say Babaji still sleeps on the floor but he has employed scientists at salaries of R50 lakh to a crore per year. We’ve launched four verticals—foods, beverages, natural cosmetics and home care. We also see a lot of room for improvement in the dairy sector so now we’ll work towards that. We have no problem with Amul or any other domestic organisation, but who is Nestle to sell milk in our country considering the farms, farmers and cattle are all ours. We got 230 acre of land from the Maharashtra government for food park through an open tender. I even invited other people to join, at half the rate, but nobody came forward. I think that’s what the government and Modiji should do now—offer land to Indian enterprises with some subsidies, so that India becomes world’s largest manufacturing hub. Maharashtra gave 400 acres, Akhileshji (UP CM) is giving more than 400 acres to us in Noida, which he just got approved by the state cabinet. Tomorrow, Mamtaji will give us some land. So it’s not like we have any political barriers or obligations.

On competition

Till my last breath, I will not target any Indian company. If competition occurs between the brands by itself, that’s all right, but we won’t actively pursue them. Yes, we will help control their prices for the benefit of the consumers. We’ll show them the way to do it, that is the work of a sanyasi.

On e-commerce

We will bring Patanjali into the online market slowly. We have prepared an online bridge for that, which you

will see in a few days. We are also in touch with other international retailers and we will begin soon. We are trying to create a channel which will only retail Patanjali.

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