An assortment of ?liberals? and the Allopathic lobby are targeting Swami Ramdev for obvious yet unacceptable reasons. Swami'sfirst ?sin? is that he has popularized yoga as no one else did in recent times. Secondly, he has given a boost to Ayurveda?the Indian system of medicine that has been grossly neglected by the State since Independence?and has succeeded in convincing the people to a great extent that Ayurveda is a better system of curative medicine. It is a monumental failure of the governments since Independence that while massive funds were pumped in for R&D in the Allopathic system, the traditional Indian system was almost totally ignored. More important and third ?sin? committed by the Swami is that he is spreading the message of social harmony and patriotism through the tenets of Hindu Dharma during his yoga lectures and demonstrations. That is why he is on the hit-list of ?secular-liberal brigade?. The CPM leader Brinda Karat first targeted him by making unsubstantiated and wild charges against his manufacturing units. She was rebuffed by all and sundry and chose to lie low, at least for the time being. A section of the media that is competing with each other to cash in on Swami'spopularity too didn'tlag behind. They see in every move the Swami makes to set up research institutes for research in Ayurveda and yoga a ?conspiracy? to grab land that should have been used for rehabilitation of farmers dislocated by dams and other development projects. It is to the credit of the Swami that he has taken all these attacks in his stride and is devoting his time and energies to his mission. That has made him a hero in the public eye.
The Swami also offended certain self-proclaimed followers of Mahatma Gandhi with his innocuous remark that though the Mahatma made a big contribution to the freedom movement, the role of revolutionaries who didn'tbelieve in non-violence was no less. A storm broke out. ?Gandhivadis? organised dharnas and demonstrations at various places in the country and threatened to show the Swami black flags if he dared to visit their cities. The Swami stood his ground. Asserting that there was no question of insulting the Mahatma who he hugely admires. He clarified that he had only underlined a historical truth that had been obfuscated by the government and the historians that are in a denial mode. The Swami'sobservations were neither insulting nor out of place. He made that statement while addressing the uniformed men who had assembled to learn yoga from him. It was the right place and occasion to tell soldiers that India won Independence not by non-violence alone and that freedom is won and defended by a nation that has a strong force comprising men and women who are prepared to give up their lives defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The agitation died its natural death as all agitations that are launched with ulterior motives and without a valid cause fall flat.
The latest in the series of attacks on Ramdev is the notice issued by the Union Health Ministry asking him not to claim that yoga and Ayurvedic medicines can cure serious ailments. No one should make false claims about curing ?incurable? diseases. There can be no exception in this regard. However, the ministry, obviously under the influence of Allopathic lobby, issued a formal notice to the practitioner of yoga and Ayurveda while turning a blind eye to advertisement by pharmaceutical companies making astounding claims about the effectiveness of their products through advertisements in TV channels and print media. Some of these advertisements are shown as news?an unhealthy practice criticised by the Press Council of India on several occasions. The Swami'sresponse is that he never makes tall claims and that it is only the patients who say they were cured by yoga and Ayurvedic medicines. ?Yoga has the indisputable power to render the mind and body disease-free?, says Swami Ramdev and claims that he has proof to support his contention. Swami'scontention may be right but he would do well to advice his patients to be a bit more restrained while making claims on TV channels that Swami'smedicines had a magical effect on their health. Understatement is the key to sustained credibility.
Swami has rightly taken on the Health Ministry on its war against AIDS and sex education in schools. He called upon the government not to propagate ?safe sex? on a massive scale that lends credence to the popular perception that government is in fact encouraging ?free sex?. He wants the government to advocate a ?system of restraint? to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Let it be understood that the Swami is talking about ?a system of restraint?. Most importantly, the government needs to adhere to the Swami'ssage advice to introduce yoga shiksha instead of ?yaun shiksha? (sex education) in schools. The Swami is articulating the anguish of millions and millions of Indians who have signed petitions against sex education in schools?a movement launched by Shiksha Bachao Andolan and several groups of concerned citizens.