Baba Ramdev has much to be proud of. Then why is he angry? Patanjali Ayurved, of which he is a partner and brand ambassador, is the fastest growing company in recent times. It is slated to touch a turnover of Rs.5,000 crores. This kind of success against well established global giants has thrilled me and all Indians. Patanjali should be glowing with the halo of achievement. But the tone of its advertisement in yesterday’s papers was far from happy. It rants at imports in intemperate terms —
“Within just one year, foreign companies are looting our country of 26,60,495 crore Rupees through imports. Hence to rescue India from economic slavery and loot of foreign companies, pledge to use only Swadeshi goods and completely boycott goods which are made in China and other foreign countries.” The Baba’s asanas may be flawless, but some of his positions are dangerous.
Though it is presumptuous of an ordinary person to point out basic economic fallacies to a wildly successful yogi, I gird my loins to do it.
– ‘Loot’ means you have taken something by force without giving anything in return. If a value was given in return to a willing customer, it is called trade. It doesn’t matter if the seller is not from your own community, caste, or even country.
– If imports are bad, how can exports be good?
– In ancient times, India was the leading exporter in the world – cloth, ivory, spices etc. – were sold around the world. Does that make our ancestors looters of the world?
– Last year, Baba Ramdev had told a business magazine that Patanjali Ayurved was earmarking Rs.1,000 crores to expand retail outlets, e-commerce, and EXPORT.
– This month, Patanjali has exported products to UK, USA, Estonia, and New Caledonia. Does it mean the company was looting those 4 countries?
– As for the balance of trade fears, over 150 years ago, Adam Smith dispelled them in his seminal work, ‘Wealth of Nations.’ Just because gold or money goes out to another country it does not mean wealth has been drained. The goods you got in return are also wealth.
– There is no slavery when there is a choice. And more dangerous than a presumed ‘economic slavery’ is ossified mental slavery to out-dated ideas.
– About you pleading and us pledging to buy Swadeshi; this is not British India. Do not rake up a slogan that was meant for a particular time for a particular purpose.
Finally, I want to plead and ask you, Baba Ramdev to take a pledge: to flood the Chinese market with Patanjali products of a quality they can’t reach, at a price they can’t match. Not stretch down to the level of a rabble-rousing politician. You have a following of millions that places you on a pedestal. So please remember; with great power comes great responsibility. Don’t scare impressionable minds and rouse hatred of the ‘foreigner.’ Teach them to be fearless like Swami Vivekananda did: to welcome new thoughts, new challenges; and face them confidently with a (Dant Kanti) smile.