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‘Note ban is a step to bring transparency and reforms’

THE ASIAN AGE. | SHASHI BHUSHAN
Published : Jan 13, 2017, 1:31 am IST
Updated : Jan 13, 2017, 6:41 am IST

Patanjali is working for development, economic prosperity that can help in nation-building.

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev
 Yoga guru Baba Ramdev

Baba Ramdev, yoga guru, says that in the fight against black money, the government has started acting and will take more steps in future. In an interview to Shashi Bhushan, Baba Ramdev says that he is confident that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also act against cross-border black money.

How did this idea of Patanjali came to your mind?
Patanjali is named after the tallest yoga guru Maharashi Patanjali. We are simply working on the works of rishi Patanjali by spreading his adhyatyamik (spirituality) with adhunikta (modernity) along with prosperity, science and technology. About 25 years ago, we  started on a very small scale with an aim of breaking the dominance of multinational companies. We have not fully succeeded but we have definitely achieved a substantial success in our objective to achieve economic freedom for the country.

You speak of financial independence of India. You think MNCs are responsible for hurting India’s financial independence?
The East India Company came and established a colony of British empire and now these MNCs are coming and working for establishing economic colony. Today MNCs like Unilever, Coca Cola, Nestle, P&G have their presence in all sectors from FMCG to textiles and automobiles. MNCs are coming to India only to make profit and they have no commitment towards India. Patanjali is working for development, economic prosperity that can help in nation-building.

Why do you target MNCs?
These MNCs are taking away about Rs 50 lakh crores annually as royalty money to their respective countries. MNCs have no commitment towards India. To achieve our objective of economic freedom for the country from MNCs, we have made the Patanjali a “multi-dimensional brand” where “desh ka paisa desh mai (Country’s money for country’s development)”. I am an unpaid brand ambassador and Acharya Balkrishna is an unpaid CEO, MD and shareholder of the company, with a model of no dividend or no profit sharing. The 100 per cent profit earned by the Patanjali is used for charity to provide world-class quality and affordable products. We have provided one lakh direct employments and indirect employment opportunity to one crore farmers. In the next five years, our target is to provide direct and indirect employment to five crore farmers. It is a huge task and our only objective behind it is development and prosperity of our country.

Why Patanjali and its products are connected to patriotism and nationalism?
Why Patanjali and its products should not be connected to nationalism or patriotism? Every Indian must be proud of his or her country. The United States or British citizens are proud of their country. Our nationality is not a threat to others or anyone and we are not disrespecting others. Patanjali is using its 100 per cent profit for charity and we are simply asking MNCs to invest 20 to 30 per cent of their profits in India itself.

Questions are raised about quality of your products and there are also allegation that Patnajali’s products are repackaged or manufactured somewhere else?
I must commit to consumers that 99 per cent of Patanjali’s products are manufactured in-house. Only some work was awarded on contract to others, a practice followed by MNCs and others in India and rest of the world. We never compromise on quality of products and we sell only those products which I personally use. Some people or groups with vested interests are spreading these baseless rumours.

What are the new products or sector Patanjali is offering in future?
We have recently launched “Shishu Care” (baby care) products and energy drink “power vita” and we are getting a good response. We are increasing our capacity and within one year, power vita will take over other energy drinks like Bournvita, Horlicks and others. We are also starting work in dairy products having units in Maharastra. Soon Patanjali will be entering in textiles and puja samaghri. Patanjali is coming with several new products. For expansion, we are also joining hands with small units that make good quality products but are unable to build it as a brand.

By joining hands with such units, we will be making a group of small scale units as per our objectives to bring in prosperity, charity , love and compassion for all. It is a big goal and we can achieve it. In the next five years, five mega food parks will be operational and our production capacity will be increased to one lakh crore.

What is future expansion plan for pan-India presence of Patanjali?
For pan-India presence, we are aggressively expanding our network in South India, specially in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Kerala. We are roping in youngsters as yoga pracharaks and giving stipends to them. Now we are engaging 1,000 new distributors in these states and maximum are in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Patanjali is also opening 1,000 new stores in South India. We are planning 50 manufacturing units and we will ensure there is a minimum of one unit in each state of the country.

As social responsibility, Patanjali is opening university and schools in South India. Our schools, to be opened in every district of South India, will provide world-class modern education along spiritual and yoga education at nominal cost.

You have often called yourself as a “scientist baba”. Why?
The term “Scientist Baba” is used by people and coined by me as I do not believe in superstitions. People have created a pakhand (hypocrisy) with vested interest in the name of religion. I like to call myself as “scientist yogi or sanyasi” as I believe in vedic life science, where everything is established by facts.

How do you look at demonetisation? Do you think it’ll benefit India?
Demonetisation is a big, brave and historic decision taken by the government. There are some initial problems, which are procedural in nature. It is a major step towards bringing economic transparency, reforms, responsibility and accountability in the country. There are four steps, which required achieving the objective to clean black money from the country. First banking system should be made transparent. Second, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should behave responsibly. Then, the taxman whose role will be important and crucial from January 1 next year must ensure that not a single honest man is harassed.

The corrupt should not be spared. And people will have to change their habits and adopt digital transactions. It is very difficult to change ones hobby, habits and practice like use of cash transactions as it is a challenging job. By ensuring all the four measures together we will end the menace of black money from the country.

Do you believe there is lack of preparation, which lead to procedural problems?
There are some problems and government has rectified it from time to time. There was some confusion among people in the initial days due to regular changes in guidelines regarding withdrawals and other deposit rules which were changed frequently. This should have been avoided.

Before 2014 general election you talked about bringing back Rs 15 lakh crores of black money stashed abroad. Now you stopped talking about black money stashed offshore?
First of all, we must understand the economy of black money. Of the total black money, 85 per cent is internal against which the union government has acted in a way of demonetisation and 15 per cent is stashed away which is called cross-border black money. Government started acting against internally circulated black money.

To keep a check on crossborder black money, government must take three steps. First, the government must make declarations of names of ultimate beneficiaries or ownership of FDIs, as Rs 20 lakh crore of black money brought in as FDI has come through Mauritius route under fake names. Secondly, the government must ensure a complete ban on uses of participatory or promissory note route and lastly by changing banking secrecy law which is helping foreign banks to easily siphon off black money from the country. Implementing these three steps will make way for action against cross border black money.

In a fight against black money, the government has taken a step and will do more in future as well. At least, the government has started acting against black money and I am confident Narendra Modi will also act against black money stashed abroad.

Did demonetisation affect Patanjali’s business?
It did not have any effect on our business. Meanwhile, we have asked all stores (mainly in far flung areas) to adopt cashless and digital transaction.

Tags: baba ramdev, narendra modi, patanjali, patriotism, black money