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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

What feeds Ramdev's lifestyle empire

IANS  New Delhi, June 09, 2011
First Published: 18:58 IST(9/6/2011) | Last Updated: 19:02 IST(9/6/2011)

As his multi-crore rupee business comes under the scanner, the spotlight is on yoga guru Baba Ramdev's vast health and lifestyle empire, fed on low-fat, low-cholesterol, organic and herbal products.

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From multi-grain wheat to ayurveda medicines, it's a rich basket and claims to offer cures for lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hyper-tension, blood pressure and disorders of the digestive system.

Amid an announcement by Ramdev, 46, that he would declare his assets, a mood of despondency was palpable at the yoga teacher's ayurveda pharmacies in the capital. One of the largest facilities, Patanjali Chikitsyalaya in south Delhi at Laxmi Bai Nagar market, wore a deserted look.

Officials at the healthcare centre were tightlipped about the week's volume of business and trends. However, a devotee close to the seer in the capital said "nothing could touch Ramdev's ayurveda initiatives".

The most popular health food brand marketed by Ramdev is health wheat, Arogya Atta, a shopkeeper in the Chandni Chowk Market in old Delhi said.

"It is made of a combination of nine grains, including bajra, corn and lentil extract. Breads rolled out of wheat is a whole meal in itself," the shopkeeper said.

Last year, several union ministers visited Haridwar to inaugurate Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurveda Hospital.

Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay inaugurated a herbal and organic food park spread over 95 hectares. The Rs.500 crore park had begun growing and extracting compounds of aloe vera, Indian gooseberry, citrus fruits, vegetable and herbs.

Ramdev's first ayurvedic medicine counter, Divya Pharmacy, was set up in Haridwar in 1995. Since then, it has spread across the country.

Statistics cited by Patanjali Yogpeeth say that New Delhi and the national capital region have 30 pharmacies that sell at least 50 varieties of medicines made of herbs.

These have not been without controversy. Over fice years ago, Ramdev was accused of using bone extracts for his drugs but the allegations died down.

Most of the drugs bearing traditional names like Divya Arashkalp Boti, Divya Ashmarir Ras, Divya Udar Kalp Churna, and "ivya Churna are prescribed by the 'vaid' at the pharmacies in combination with strict diets of bottle gourd juice, bitter gourd juice, gooseberry juice, herbal pastes, neem extract, turmeric, multi-grain bread, low-calorie vegetables, fruits and milk.

The 5,000-year-old science of ayurveda, as prescribed by Vedic scholar Patanjali, scaled new heights under Ramdev and his aide Acharya Balkrishna, of course riding on the alternative lifestyle fad in India.

The hugely popular yoga guru, who has become a familiar face due to TV yoga, has been in the limelight since a police crackdown on him and his supporters in the capital last weekend that also saw him evicted from Delhi.


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