New Delhi: Yoga Guru Ramdev, reacting to NDTV's report about his involvement in a government scheme meant to link the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to rural India, said it was wrong to dismiss his credentials for the programme. "I am a scientist Baba," he argued.
At a meeting of the 'Unnat Bharat Yojana' in January, the organisations identified for the IITs to work with included Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Pith, the religious sect Gayatri Pariwar, Swami Sampoornanand, Swami Muktanand, Swami Rajendra Das, Swami Vishudhanand and the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, which is the tribal wing of the BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
In an interview at a luxury farmhouse on the outskirts of Delhi, Baba Ramdev said: "I was born in a farmer's house. And the work that we have done, we have connected Yoga with science. You can talk to me about botany, about medical science."
He said that his company has devised "a way of processing crops", which, he said, would be shared with farmers.
The minutes of the meeting record an offer from Ramdev of Rs 200 crores to the government's Unnat Bharat Abhiyan. Asked whether he did make that offer, he scoffed: "You are talking about Rs 200 crore, I have already spent Rs 500 crore on it (helping farmers)."
Ramdev bristled at the suggestion that in the past, some of his views have been unscientific; for instance, that he has the expertise to "cure" homosexuality, and that his company manufactures a medicine that guarantees a male child.
He denied having ever made such a statement, saying "all my work is scientific, universal and secular."
But the normally outspoken Baba, who has in the past been open in his support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, was oddly muted when asked how he rated the performance of the government. "On this, Babaji's no comments!" he said.
Then he clarified: "Scams should never happen anywhere. Unless everything becomes clear, I don't want to give any statement and invite trouble."