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EXISTENCE EXISTS

  • Aman Preet Singh

A Dissection of the Economic, Political, & Moral Vitriol of Baba Ramdev


Baba Ramdev, via his propaganda mouth-piece Patanjali, has been running a vicious ad campaign against multi-national corporations (MNCs) & foreign investment into India. A sample of his advertising on India’s day of independence in 2017 is shown above. Baba Ramdev is, first & foremost, an altruist at heart which often translates into a totalitarian & statist in politics. Man, by nature & by the grace of reality, is first & foremost an individualist. A reasoning mind, a thinking mind, is a selfish mind. A rational person, in his ethics is, first & foremost, rationally selfish whether he identifies it as such or not. It is the code of rational selfishness & the morality of rational self-interest that Baba Ramdev is out to destroy. As shall be shown in the ensuing paragraphs, Baba Ramdev is a crude demagogue with a guile & cunning that plays upon the envy, hatred, & power-lust of the masses. As odious as the endeavour is, to defang Baba Ramdev’s reptilian logic, a word-by-word dissection is imperative.


States the Baba,


“On the eve of 71st year of independence, let’s take the pledge to embrace SWADESHI and help our country attain economic freedom by completely boycotting goods by MNCs.”


The next few paragraphs begin with an underscored headline that states –


AN APPEAL TO ALL THE PATRIOTIC CITIZENS FOR ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE


Observe the cunning & guile with which the Baba has installed himself as sole representative of the economic tastes of patriotic citizens of this country. Multinational corporations do not force anyone to buy their products. The fact that they are hugely successful in India is a testament to the quality of their products & services. Therefore, in the twisted, warped worldview of the Baba, if consumers need the products that MNCs have to offer and are willing to pay the price that the MNCs demand, then, somehow, it is the Indian citizens who are held in bondage to the MNCs by the very act of offering a product or service that the citizens need.


Imagine that your spouse is ill & has been diagnosed with a rare form of colon cancer. An oncologist-surgeon, trained in Western medicine, performs a life-saving surgery on her & further prescribes rounds of chemotherapy with the latest patented, cancer drug by Novartis. The drug is expensive as was the surgery that your oncologist performed. But it took years & years of pain-staking, excruciating effort for your oncologist-surgeon to obtain an education notwithstanding the tens of thousands of dollars that he spent on getting that education abroad. Similarly, the MNC Novartis’s patented colon cancer drug took decades to develop & after having spent billions of dollars on research infrastructure & resources. You do not mind paying the cost of treatment, just so long as it extends your spouse’s life & brings her back to normalcy. According to Baba Ramdev, this is unjust & oppressive. Novartis, not the colon cancer eating your spouse from the inside, is the real oppressor here. It is Novartis who binds your spouse & you in economic slavery, & the only way for you to free yourself is to boycott Novartis’s products. What would you choose to do in such a scenario? Follow Baba Ramdev’s advice, & boycott Western surgery & Novartis’s cancer drug for a sure death of your spouse or let sanity prevail & get her the treatment immediately. This is not an academic discussion – these are the choices that Baba Ramdev is asking you to make, on a daily basis, in the guise of patriotism. Baba Ram Dev pits any genuine goodwill & sense of patriotism that you may possess for your country against the daily requirements of your survival & those of your loved ones. Would you embrace SWADESHI & let your spouse die or would you get your hands on the first Western medicine that could save her? These are the choices you would be forced to make should you embark on a complete boycott of all MNC products available in India.


The next sentence in the Baba’s vitriol goes such –


“We have to make India a SUPERPOWER by the year 2040.”


In a free society or a free country, there is nothing that private citizens are obligated to do or have to do. What gives the Baba the right to determine national objectives for private citizens irrespective of the degree of their patriotism? Further, why is it such a self-evident given that India has to be transformed into a SUPERPOWER by the year 2040, whatever the word ‘Superpower’ connotes or denotes. Even though India is the 5th largest economy in the world, based only on volume or turnover of trade, this number is attained only because of the large population of India. In terms of actual standards of living, per-capita income, or the level of aggregate development, India continues to be rated as a developing country. In terms of its political maturity or the quality of its laws or regulations, India lags even further. According to Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press findings for 2017, only 13% of the world’s population enjoys a free press. 45% of the world’s population lives in countries where the media environment is not free. The same findings rate press freedom in India as “partly free” & the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as “not free.” An analysis of country scores in these findings on multiple parameters is even more illustrative. For press freedom, on a score of 0 to 100 with 0 being the best possible rating a country could obtain & 100 being the worst possible rating, scores of India in comparison with other countries are as follows –


a. Norway (Most Free) – 8

b. Canada – 18

c. New Zealand – 19

d. Australia – 22

e. United States – 23

f. United Kingdom – 25

g. Tonga – 30

h. Italy – 31

i. Croatia - 41

j. India - 43

k. Botswana – 45

l. Nepal – 52

m. Pakistan – 65

n. People’s Republic of China – 87


For legal environment, on a scale of 0 to 30, with 0 denoting the best legal environment & 30 denoting the worst, scores are as follows –


a. Norway – 2

b. Netherlands – 2

c. New Zealand – 4

d. Australia – 6

e. Canada - 5

f. United States – 6

g. United Kingdom – 9

h. Croatia – 9

i. Tonga – 10

j. South Korea – 11

k. India – 11

l. Nigeria – 14

m. Bolivia – 16

n. Pakistan – 19

o. People’s Republic of China – 24

p. Somalia – 25

q. Russia – 25


For political environment, on a scale of 0 to 40, with 0 denoting the best possible environment & 40 denoting the worst, scores are as follows –


a. Norway – 3

b. Canada – 7

c. New Zealand – 8

d. Australia – 9

e. United Kingdom – 9

f. United States – 12

g. Israel – 14

h. Japan – 16

i. South Africa – 20

j. Bhutan – 20

k. Mozambique – 21

l. Nepal – 21

m. Lebanon – 21

n. India – 22

o. Nigeria – 22

p. Kenya – 24

q. Zimbabwe – 24

r. Cambodia – 27

s. Cuba – 28

t. Iran – 30

u. Pakistan – 30

v. People’s Republic of China – 35


For the current 2018 fiscal, according to the World Bank, India is classified as a ‘Low Middle-Income Economy’ with a GNI per capita between $1,006 and $3,995. Other countries with the same classification include Cambodia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nigeria, Pakistan, Zambia, & Myanmar. The People’s Republic of China is classified as an ‘Upper-Middle-Income Economy’ with a GNI per capita between $3,956 to $12,235. Other countries with the same classification as the PRC include Iraq, Russia, Iran, Botswana, Fiji, Mexico, Cuba, & Brazil. The highest classification is for ‘High-Income Economies’ for countries with a GNI per capita greater than $12,236 or more. This includes countries such as Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, Norway, United States, Taiwan, New Zealand, Singapore, & South Korea.


In 2013, the Economic Intelligence Unit formulated a ‘Quality of Life’ Index in an attempt to measure which country would provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life in the years ahead. The ranking on this index is depicted below on a scale of 1 to 10 with 0 being the worst. Eighty countries were ranked.



Rank

Country

Score

1

Switzerland

8.22

2

Australia

8.12

6

Singapore

8.0

7

New Zealand

7.95

9

Canada

7.81

14

Taiwan

7.67

16

United States

7.38

19

South Korea

7.25

25

Japan

7.08

27

United Kingdom

7.01

49

People's Republic of China

5.99

58

Iran

5.78

60

Egypt

5.76

63

Sri Lanka

5.71

66

India

5.67

71

Russia

5.31

73

Syria

5.29

75

Pakistan

5.17

77

Bangladesh


In order to transform India into a “SUPERPOWER,” the Baba offers a 5-pronged action plan which is instructive to dissect. The first point reads –


“Like our martyrs, Mahatma Gandhi, Chandra Shekhar Azad, & Bhagat Singh, let us take a pledge to opt for 100% Swadeshi goods. The wealth of this country should not go abroad. Save the country from economic slavery because only a financially abundant country is capable of becoming a superpower of the world.”


First, some history lessons. Mahatma Gandhi was not martyred in the cause of India’s independence. The British did not assassinate Mahatma Gandhi, Nathuram Godse, an RSS member did. He killed Mahatma Gandhi at point blank range & he did this in 1948 after India had gained its independence. In his final address to the court, Godse stated –


“Gandhi is being referred to as the Father of the Nation. But if that is so, he had failed his paternal duty in as much as he has acted very treacherously to the nation by his consenting to the partitioning of it. I stoutly maintain that Gandhi has failed in his duty. He has proved to be the Father of Pakistan. His inner-voice, his spiritual power and his doctrine of non-violence of which so much is made of, all crumbled before Jinnah’s iron will and proved to be powerless. Briefly speaking, I thought to myself and foresaw I shall be totally ruined, and the only thing I could expect from the people would be nothing but hatred and that I shall have lost all my honour, even more valuable than my life, if I were to kill Gandhiji. But at the same time I felt that the Indian politics in the absence of Gandhiji would surely be proved practical, able to retaliate, and would be powerful with armed forces. No doubt, my own future would be totally ruined, but the nation would be saved from the inroads of Pakistan. People may even call me and dub me as devoid of any sense or foolish, but the nation would be free to follow the course founded on the reason which I consider to be necessary for sound nation-building.”


Further, Godse was sentenced to death by a competent court in independent India, not by the British.


Chandrashekhar Azad, the second martyr that the Baba mentions was involved in such revolutionary activities as robberies of government property, notably, the Kakori Train Robbery in 1925 & an attempt to blow up the Viceroy’s train in 1926. He reorganized the Hindustan Republican Association under its new name of Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA). The HSRA gradually moved towards more Marxism & wanted to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat.


Bhagat Singh, the third martyr mentioned by the Baba, is well-known for his deeds. But certain facts are worth recounting –


a. He was a socialist in his political leanings & was a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA)


b. He is responsible for the assassination of 21-year old British police officer, John Saunders, in a case of mistaken identity when the real target was British police superintendent, James Scott.


c. In 1929, he proposed a dramatic act to the HSRA intended to gain massive publicity for their aims. Influenced by Auguste Vaillant, a French anarchist who had bombed the Chamber of Deputies in Paris, Singh's plan was to explode a bomb inside the Central Legislative Assembly. The nominal intention was to protest against the Public Safety Bill, and the Trade Dispute Act, which had been rejected by the Assembly but were being enacted by the Viceroy using his special powers; the actual intention was for the perpetrators to allow themselves to be arrested so that they could use court appearances as a stage to publicise their cause.


According to Neeti Nair, associate professor of history, "public criticism of this terrorist action was unequivocal."[1] Gandhi, once again, issued strong words of disapproval of their deed.[2]


The concept of Swadeshi is based on a deeply flawed economics, politics, & morality. Swadeshi, as an economic concept is anti-industry, anti-mechanization, anti-automation, anti-machinery, & anti-mass-production. It is perfectly in line with the radical ecologist’s vision of man subsisting at his bare minimum, at one with nature. Is it any wonder that the Ayurveda & Yoga champion Baba Ramdev whole-heartedly embraces the notion of Swadeshi? Swadeshi, as a political tool, leads to protectionism, high tariffs, socialism, & the license raj, exactly what India has been subjected to over the past eight decades. Swadeshi leads to sloth, inefficiency, poor quality of products – a hallmark of Indian manufacturing. As a moral proposition, Swadeshi is altruist in nature, it does not approve of the profit motive – it urges men to deny their self-interest in any business undertaking. Needless to state, Swadeshi does not advocate a free market, domestically or internationally. To opt for 100% Swadeshi goods is the literal equivalent of committing suicide.


When Baba Ramdev states that the ‘wealth of this country should no go abroad,’ he misleads the uninitiated at multiple levels. If multinational corporations, whose shareholders principally reside abroad, invest billions & billions of their capital in India, they have every right to the profits they earn & repatriate those to the countries of their origin. As was discussed above, this is not a bad deal for India either. In exchange for their profits, MNCs inject superior Western technology into India. They introduce high-quality products into the Indian market, they continually raise the quality & innovation bar for all economic participants, they infuse the Indian economy with much needed capital, &, as a consequence, contribute to building crucial infrastructure in every sector of the economy. There is a reason why India does not produce the equivalent of a Microsoft or Apple in the software sector; a Harvard, Yale, or Oxford University in the education sector; a Mercedes Benz or Rolls Royce in the automotive sector; a Novartis or Merck in the pharmaceutical sector; an IKEA in the furniture sector; a Cadburys in the confectionary sector; a Coca Cola or Pepsi in the beverages sector; a Ritz-Carlton in the hospitality sector; an Exxon-Mobil in the energy sector; a Lockheed Martin in the defense sector; a News Corporation in the media sector; a Citibank or Wells Fargo in the financial sector. The list goes on.


This is the scenario that the Baba terms as “economic slavery” of India. This is an unbridled hatred of the good for being the good; it is hatred for human achievement, hatred for progress, growth, & development as such. At another level, the Baba denies the role of the mind in the creation of wealth. If wealth is a static quantity, existing in nature, up for grabs by the first comer, then it is understandable why the MNCs are looters & economic masters of India. If wealth is a static quantity, then it is also limited in quantity. Then scarcity & conservation are to be the guiding principles of economics, as they are in most political and economic systems of the world, including India. However, this view of wealth & its origin is based on a flawed metaphysics & denies the role of human intelligence in the daily, economic affairs of men. The universe does not contain limited but infinite resources. However, it up to man to discover these & to determine their applicability to the furtherance of his life. This requires man to apply his mind & to exhibit intelligence. Titanium, the chemical element, prior to its discovery in 1791, had always existed in the earth’s crust. Only after it was discovered & analyzed, was it able to be put to use for science, engineering, & technological applications, & as a precious metal. Today, Titanium is used for aerospace, military, industrial, automotive, & medical applications. It is used for jewelry, dental implants, mobile phones, armor plating, spacecraft, & missiles. Titanium is considered an expensive metal & its high economic value is made possible only after it was discovered and analyzed.

[1] Nair, Neeti (May 2009), "Bhagat Singh as 'Satyagrahi': The Limits to Non-violence in Late Colonial India", Modern Asian Studies, Cambridge University Press, 43 (3): 649–681, doi:10.1017/S0026749X08003491, JSTOR 20488099, (Subscription required)

[2] Mittal, S. K.; Habib, Irfan (June 1982), "The Congress and the Revolutionaries in the 1920s", Social Scientist, 10 (6): 20–37, JSTOR 3517065 (subscription required)


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