Some images can never be ‘unseen’. Like India Today’s revealing cover of Baba Ramdev. What also can’t be unseen is the business magnate that Ramdev is today. He may not have a single share in his brand, Patanjali Ayurved, but his friend and promoter Acharya Balakrishna, has entered the Hurun India Rich List with a total wealth of Rs 25,600 crore (approximately $3.8 billion). No guesses to know who helped as brand ambassador and chief endorser of products!
While I may have my reservations on some of the views espoused by the gent (read: homosexuality is a disease that can be cured by yoga!) but there’s no denying Baba Ramdev’s role in popularizing yoga. Of late however, I take umbrage on his ‘swadeshi’ campaign.
Patanjali’s advertisements talk about the nation being robbed by foreign companies. He is talking about skewing up the bilateral trade between our country and others that gives foreign companies the right to sell and operate in India as long as they follow the law of the land and pay the requisite taxes.
The ads also denigrate other consumer brands, including ‘desi’ ones, to prop up Patanjali’s own offerings. Advertising industry regulator Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has already chided the brand for “false and misleading” information. A hole has been drilled in several of his products’ claims thanks to verification by the ASCI. (I guess it’s not Un-Indian to make unsubstantiated and often malicious claims)
Now for all these advertisements, whether it’s foreign company bashing or spreading “false and misleading” information, Patanjali has earmarked an advertisement budget of over Rs 300 crore. The yoga guru’s brand was the third most advertised brand on Indian television in November 2015, coming closely behind Cadbury and Fair and Lovely.
So today when I read Baba Ramdev’s interview in The Telegraph speaking of a clothing line including “swadeshi” jeans, I distinctly read a business magnate speaking of his plans. He will expand by taking his apparel brand, ‘Paridhaan’, overseas to Bangladesh, Africa, Europe and the US. Exporting the apparel brand and FMCG products has a lot to do with increasing the reach of the Patanjali brand, and not ‘Indianizing’ the Indian diaspora.
Patanjali Ayurved has grown five times in the last three years and currently, has a turnover of Rs 5,000 crore. It has a target of reaching Rs 10,000 crore next year. There’s nothing ‘swadeshi’ about it. It’s capitalism through and through. And that’s just bloody good business.
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