Yoga guru Baba Ramdev has a new mission — and it has nothing to do with any new contortions of his body that is sure to make some of us feel a little fatigued. Instead, the Baba of the flowing locks and saffron robe fame has decided to go on a fast, if need be unto death, from June 4, as part of the ‘Bhrashtachar Mitao Satyagrah’, a drive to remove corruption. Unlike Anna Hazare and his one-point agenda of the lokpal bill, Ramdev has a long list of dem-ands, as long as the scorching Indian summer. He wants the government to bring back Rs400 trillion in black money deposited in foreign banks; sign the United Nations anti-corruption convention, demonitise high-value currency denominations and that hoary old chestnut, a neutral and effective lokpal. Since timing is of the essence, the yoga master has worked out the dates perfectly: four issues, four weeks, the protest reaching its peak just ahead of the monsoon session. It’s a win-win situation for his followers too: choose any of the rallying points and join the chorus. This is the beauty of this age of competition: there’s a choice for everyone, even if it’s a bland political fast.
While we don’t doubt his good intentions, there is one question: how can a Baba fast unto death? Aren’t godmen supposed to stay alive by just breathing even our polluted air? We mean, last we heard that Baba Ramdev is just not any yoga instructor, he is someone with very special powers. So all we can tell the government is that if Ramdev hits the stage and the media joins the chorus, it’s going be one long haul.
Among his four choose-your-own protest offerings, the demonitising of high-value currency sounds a bit off-the-wall. Baba Ramdev says black money thrives because of these high denominations. We disagree. Corruption thrives because there are far too many unnecessary controls and a supply-demand mismatch. High denominations just makes this easier. Or may be the other way round… Ah, another chicken-and-egg situation.