By Abhay Vaidya
Wouldn’t it serve a more pragmatic purpose if the nation looked at yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s ongoing campaign against black money and corruption as an exercise in Hasya Yoga? Laughter is definitely preferable over cynicism in these stress-filled times of 5.3 percent growth. Why then lose out on the opportunity to laugh as the top politicians of the country make time for the Baba and endorse his crusade against corruption and black money?
For example, did you LoL (laugh out loud, in digital lingo) when the ever-smiling Baba sought NCP President Sharad Pawar‘s support for his campaign? Did you further roll with laughter when Pawar announced support and described the Baba’s suggestions to deal with black money as “pragmatic”?
Imagine for a moment Pawar refusing to meet the Baba, as was done by the Congress. Did Pawar have the option of saying that he was against any campaign that would curb corruption and black money? That the Baba should restrict himself to yoga and meditation and leave such grave issues involving an estimated $500 billion of black money to the experts? That the Baba should not run a half-baked campaign and first get it endorsed by leading experts such as former Finance Secretary Vijay Kelkar and others such as Arthakranti promoter Anil Bokil (arthakranti.org)? Obviously, making intelligent noises before the Baba wouldn’t make sense for politicians.
Like Rakhi Sawant, the Baba has his own mass following and media presence and, therefore, it must have seemed pragmatic to Pawar to take time out for the Baba. After all, what is there to lose when the campaign is all hot air and won’t make a penny’s difference to the thriving culture of corruption or black money in India? And then, a Baba Ramdev would be preferable anyday to an Anna Hazare who, in the recent past, had actually got the politicians by their throats.
No matter what happens to the core issue, there’s a lot to be gained by the Baba and the politicians through this Hasya Yoga initiative. The most obvious is the enormous media publicity that results from every meeting that Ramdev conducts. One resounding success after another: First he got Nitin Gadkari, president of the nation’s principal opposition party to stoop and touch his feet. The next stop was Pawar, again, a page-1 hit for the media.
If the civil society crusader Aruna Roy was the countervailing force to Anna Hazare in the previous round of the Lokpal agitation, Baba Ramdev seems to be the one this time around, in the run-up to the 2014 general elections.
The Baba should take his Hasya Yoga initiative seriously and schedule meetings with former UP Chief Minister Mayawati and then with former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. To hear these worthies endorse his movement on black money and corruption would certainly provide much fodder to laughter clubs and stand-up comedians like Shekhar Suman, Kapil Sharma, Raju Shrivastava and others. Political cartoons or otherwise, we as a people need to laugh more for the sake of good health.
Since politicians have enormous practical knowledge on various aspects of black money and corruption; havala transactions, front companies, nexus with builders and throwing money to buy votes during elections, the Baba should continue his meetings with politicians.
He should give top priority to “celebrities” such as DMK leaders A Raja, Kanimozhi and Congress’s Suresh Kalmadi. All of them have had ample time to contemplate on the intricacies while in custody over the 2G and CWG scams.
Since black money and corruption involves all sections of society in India, the Baba should not restrict himself to politicians alone. He should take his campaign forward by meeting top businessmen, Bollywood stars, cricketers, doctors, so on and so forth…There’s no dearth of subject experts in India from various sectors with practical knowledge.
Each one of these meetings will inevitably be tracked by the media and make the Baba bigger by the day- far bigger than his competitors and rivals such as Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. Perhaps, at least then, Manmohan Singh and his boss, Sonia Gandhi would be forced to invite the Baba for “talks”.
If all goes well, the Baba could even aspire to become the President of India- if not the next one, at least, the one after. It’s a win-win situation for all: the Baba wins, the politicians win and the people win through laughter and good health…Did someone say something about fighting corruption and black money?