Thoughts on economics and liberty

Tag: Baba Ramdev

My position on Baba Ramdev, to clear the air for everyone

UPDATE: I have met Swami Ramdev later, in December 2012, and found a large number of commonalities of perspective.


I chanced upon the following view on Facebook, and would like to provide below a copy of my response, and also a few other observations.

रतन सिंह Shame on you that you dont know abt FTI…This is the same guy Sanjeev Sablok Who oppose every move of Baba Ramdev & wanted to stop his agitation by hook or crook ..Even he justifies the govt's cpwardly act to stop Baba Ramdev ….& you r liking his post ??? Popularizing him ???.

Sanjeev Sabhlok Ratan, you are welcome to misrepresent me and my work, that's up to you. I NEVER opposed Baba Ramdev personally. He is a fine person who wants to remove corruption. He and I have the same goal.

Indeed, he and I spoke a couple of weeks ago and had a very productive conversation about the changes needed in India. I might even work with him more closely in the coming years. Yes, I did oppose some of the statements he made and will continue to speak the truth about things that are incorrect. Many of the earlier ideas of Ramdev about removing corruption were simply wrong. He agrees now that we must follow Chanakya's Arthashastra more closely. What I'm teaching is pretty much what Chanakya said.

Further observations

When Ramdev fled, wearing woman's clothes, I was very angry at that act. But my position changed after I was told by eyewitnesses that Ramdev had offered to be arrested, and that the police refused to do so. I was told that his life was actually in danger. I therefore removed that post and wrote a post asking the Congress government to resign: Did Baba Ramdev offer to be arrested? If so, the Congress must resign.

I've always said Ramdev is a good man who sometimes does or says the wrong thing.

For instance, he is very good at yoga: Now, here's something Baba Ramdev is very good at. This is what I wrote: "Ramdev is therefore VERY good at transmitting ancient Indian knowledge. I give him much credit for what he is good at."

Unfortunately his followers expect BLIND SUPPORT. Anyone who asks questions is considered to be an opponent. But that's a very shallow and incorrect position to take.
I oppose CORRUPTION and BAD GOVERNANCE. I have opposed it publicly for FAR LONGER than Ramdev has. I have resigned from the IAS nearly 12 years ago (not voluntary retirement or some such convenient thing) to be able to speak freely against corruption, and to work towards a viable, sustainable alternative.
So both Ramdev and I are fighting against the same problems. And we have the same position on self-respect, Swabhiman. But I want India to quickly arrive at the right solutions.
I will be remiss in my duty towards India if I do not speak the truth about what will work and what will not. And so I speak (what I think is) the truth regarding policy matters, and will continue to do so. I cannot short-change India by becoming a blind devotee of Ramdev and not pointing out when his ideas won't work.

On yoga I'm happy to listen to Ramdev. On policy, he must try to listen to me.

I've said so many times earlier, e.g:  Baba Ramdev a good man, but how does one get him to understand good policy?  This is what I wrote: "This man DEFINITELY has potential. His heart is in the right place. What he needs is to understand how to create the economic prosperity that he talks about, and to get out of the shoddy policies he imagines will solve India's problems."

Baba Ramdev is very good in yoga but not very good at all in policy thinking. Just like I'm very bad in yoga and much better in policy matters.

He is now willing to accept this fact. The fact that he now thinks that Chankaya might have something useful to say on corruption is a sign that he is changing.

In the end the TRUTH wins. Satyameva Jayate. We need to find solutions that work. And Chanakya had found many of them. We need to rediscover Chanakya.

It is my job to continue to speak the truth. When India is ready, it will listen. Of that I'm sure. I'm glad that Baba Ramdev and I had a very positive and productive conversation recently.

I'm even willing to work closely with him subject to (a) verification that his accounts are totally clean and (b) detailed policy agreement.

He must also eschew any support for either BJP or Congress. He must stop supporting the reservations policy, and he must stop demanding a prohibition on cow slaughter.

Remember that Chanakya's Arthashastra does NOT contain any such admonition against cow slaughter. [Sanjeev: Actually, beef was officially permitted to be sold by the King during Chanakya's time] Indeed, there is every likelihood that in Vedic times, Indians ate beef. But that's neither here nor there. Let historians debate that. And I'm not asking anyone to eat anything or not eat anything. That's their private business.

The point is that Chanakya did NOT believe in prohibitions. We must ensure animal rights and accountability, and then allow people the freedom to be what they want to be.

We must learn from Chanakya. Then we can move further, together.

If we keep following half-baked socialist ideas, then I'm afraid we are not going to make any progress in India.

In fact, things will only get worse.

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Baba Ramdev is wrong to support reservations and expand to Muslims/Christians

The reservations policy – which has divided the already divided society of India, without doing ANYTHING to bring about equality of opportunity – has been long supported by Indian socialists of all hues, whether Congress or BJP (e.g. Advani is one of the staunchest supporters of reservations).

As if to confirm his socialist leanings, and to worsen an already bad situation, Baba Ramdev has come out in support of reservations. Instead of demanding policies that will end state-based discrimination, Ramdev is looking to extend reservations to Muslim and Christian “Dalits” (whatever that means).

“I did not know till recently that Article 341 does not cover Muslims and Christian dalits. This is not fair. Dalit is a dalit, whether he is a Hindu, Christian or a Muslim. So, all Dalits should get equal rights. We will have to struggle to achieve this. We will launch a struggle (for this). I extend my wholehearted support,” he said.



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Now, here’s something Baba Ramdev is very good at

Jack pointed me to this video (below), which contains a range of assertions about curing eye diseases, and includes recommendations about use of a range of ingredients including cow urine.

Might sound a bit odd, but the video is a pleasure to watch. Ramdev is a great communicator. He can teach a lesson or two to the very best in the world on public speaking.  

Ramdev is therefore VERY good at transmitting ancient Indian knowledge.

Whether his recommendations work or not is a different matter. 

Given the TOTAL FAILURE of modern medicine in my case, I'm inclined to try out at least a few of his remedies (excluding the cow urine based). And pranayama is always great. 

Indeed, I had already discovered (on my own initiative) some useful properties of manuka honey and lemon juice, but not in the combination he describes. I've also used triphala a bit, but not as diligently as he has recommended.

When modern medicine totally fails, people have to resort to alternative medicine. No Restasis for me yet. $600 worth of medicine can lie in my fridge for another few months.

I'm very sceptical about a cure (since I've tried honey, lemon and triphala in the past and the solution was not permanent), but given the persuasive style of the Baba, I will seriously work on his recommendations.

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Hazare’s and Ramdev’s methods “the worst form of coercion” (so said Mahatma Gandhi)

It has become fashionable for deluded, half-baked Indian "leaders" (including Hindu gurus, one of whom recently died as a result) to undertake "fasts-unto-death" the moment their views are questioned by democratically elected representatives of India, or the onus put on them to contest elections, get elected, and change laws in the proper, constitutional way.

I've dealt with this issue on a number of blog posts (and indeed, have dealt with it in detail the draft manuscript, DOF, which has been under preparation for a number of years – noting that I have changed the views (on this matter) found in the current version, but not yet found time to change the text). Some of my posts on this subject include:

Gandhi’s views

But now, there comes a startling piece of information from from the book, Great Soul; Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India, by Joseph Lelyveld. Not only did Gandhi question the use of "fast unto death" by others on numerous occasions (see my research notes above), this book tells us that he actually knew that fasting unto death was the “the worst form of coercion”.
This I found from Christopher Hitchens's excellent review of this banned book
Banned? Yes, recall that this book is banned in India. No less than the "luminary" Narendra Modi has banned the book. This great hero of BJP and many "internet Indians", and communal fanatic, statist who opposes liberty (but is apparently a "good" administrator) banned this book because it might have made some true statements (Narendra Modi loses all credibility).  Surely Modi can't hide the truth just by banning the book. This is the internet world, Modi. Get real – you delusional, medieval enemy of freedom! Who cares about your ban! 
Indeed, the ban is all the more reason to buy this book (but I won't since I have many other things to read and I'm not "preaching" Gandhism but classical liberalism, and freedom). 
Let me admit I'm a bit disturbed by reading Hitchens's review, for it forces me to review some of my views on Gandhi. Lelyveld basically shows that Gandhi was a staunch conservative (but confused) Hindu. That's a perspective I've already noted in DOF (in relation to his use of the "Ram Rajya" slogan which put the spanner in his relations with Jinnah). But his treatment of the "Harijans" marks him out for further analysis when I find more time.
Gandhi was not a clear headed classical liberal (of which he did show some elementary knowledge – as I've outlined in BFN ). He was also not an anarchist, nor a socialist. He did have a rather Hazare-like view of himself, that he somehow "represented" everyone. A bit of megalomania surely suggests itself with some of his statements, such as: “I claim myself in my own person to represent the vast mass of the untouchables”!! 
Anyway, this blog post is not about Gandhi or his theories, but about those who practice "Gandhigiri" without having read Gandhi. (Has Hazare or Ramdev written extensively on the subject of "fast unto death"? How do these two justify their public attempts at suicide?)
I hope Hazare and Ramdev are informed that (as Hitchens writes) their threat to starve themselves to death involves them "in the deliberate and believable threat of violence". Thus they become votaries of VIOLENCE, not of non-violence.
And they shouldn't forget that they are, as Gandhi wrote, practicing the "worst form of coercion". They need to explain the logic of their coercive, violent actions. The only thing that currently distinguishes them from terrorists like ULFA is that they threaten to conduct their violence in public. That's a savings grace. But protectors of democracy, advocates of non-violence – that they are not.
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