Controversial yoga channel guru challenges India on corruption

2011-06-03 07:34

New Delhi – India’s most famous yoga guru put pressure on India’s government today to accept his hard-line proposals to combat corruption as he prepared to go on a hunger strike at the weekend.

Swami Ramdev, who has erected a huge tent in the capital where he plans to fast in front of thousands of followers from tomorrow, has vowed to stop eating unless Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accedes to all of his demands.

Singh sent four ministers to greet the television star when he arrived in the capital on Wednesday and he has personally written to the man known to millions as “Baba” in an effort to avert another challenge to his authority.

The standoff is front-page news, with The Indian Express headlining “To Prevent the Fast, Government Works Hard on Baba Menu”, adding that ministers were preparing a last-ditch response to Ramdev’s “bewildering” demands.

Anger about corruption has been at fever pitch in India for the last year after a series of scandals involving the government and the ruling Congress party, notably a $39 billion (R262 billion) telecoms scam that saw a minister arrested.

Ramdev, a social conservative always seen in saffron robes open at the chest, has tapped this groundswell of discontent to launch his campaign, but he also has strong political ties with right-wing Hindu groups and a large organisation behind him.

His main request is that Singh’s administration forcibly repatriate so-called “black money”, cash in foreign bank accounts suspected of being used to pay bribes or other illegal transactions.

“When the black money is brought back, our economy will be so huge, our currency will be so strong that our one rupee will be equal to $50,” he said in an interview earlier this week with The Indian Express.

His other proposals to combat graft include introducing the death penalty for corrupt officials and withdrawing large-denomination 500 rupee (R67) and 1 000 rupee bank notes, which he says are used for illicit transactions.

He has also called for any bank that operates in a tax haven to be banned from India.

The bearded guru is anti-gay, against modern medicine and claims to be able to cure cancer and Aids through yoga and his natural therapies, which are a key source of his income.

His trust, based in the northern Indian hilltown of Haridwar in the foothills of the Himalayas, has declared revenue since 1995 of 11 billion rupees (R1.6 billion).

Ramdev, known to millions of middle-class Indians through his yoga channel that promotes healthy living and breathing exercises, yesterday held more talks with the government, but was adamant he would not compromise.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.