My Exchange With Baba Ramdev on Twitter

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My Exchange With Baba Ramdev on Twitter

Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev at IIT Delhi


New Delhi:  Yoga guru Baba Ramdev tweeted NDTV today to state there's nothing controversial about his potential role in a new programme anchored at IIT Delhi that is meant to help the government with development in rural India.

Baba Ramdev was responding to NDTV's Truth Vs Hype program which reported this week on how a slew of Hindutva organisations, including Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Pith, attended a meeting in January at IIT Delhi, where the focus was heavily on right-wing themes like the importance of the cow. In his comments, Baba Ramdev said the IITs must study the genetic code of cows and bulls.

The occasion was a meeting of the core group of the government's Unnat Bharat Yojana or scheme, developed by the Human Resources Development Ministry and anchored in IIT Delhi. The campaign says it wants to leverage the technical knowhow of institutions like IITs to help develop rural India.

But the minutes of that meeting show that IIT professors would, as follow up, be paired with organisations that are either affiliates of the Sangh Parivaar, or are quasi-religious.

Baba Ramdev made these points on Twitter today:
       
As the person who reported the story, I'd like to make the following points.

First, I appreciate Baba Ramdev's response, and am more than happy to take part in a debate with him on his potential contribution to the rural development scheme.

Second, nowhere does the Truth Vs Hype report abuse religious heads. It simply raises the question of the credentials of the partner organisations mentioned in working in the area of agriculture/rural development. According to the minutes, those are: Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Pith, the religious sect Gayatri Pariwar, Swami Sampoornanand, Swami Muktanand, Swami Rajdendra Das, Swami Vishudhanand and RSS's tribal wing Vansvasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA). While organisations like the VKA have a history of work in tribal districts, the guests at the IIT meeting appear to be related more by their ideological affiliations than any sustained work in rural development.

Third, as for the description given by Baba Ramdev of his karyakartas or volunteers carrying messages from IIT to rural India, that did not figure in the minutes of the January meeting.

Finally, we have some questions of our own:
 
  • The minutes record that Baba Ramdev offered Rs 200 crores to the scheme. Was the offer accepted?
  • What experience does Patanjali Pith have that makes it qualified to contribute in the area of rural development/agriculture?
  • Also, what precise role will his Patanjali Pith play in Unnat Bharat?

The answers are awaited.


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