We love to hate Baba Ramdev
I recently came across this article by a renowned IIM prof where he reacts to the advertisement by Baba Ramdev and gives his justification as to why he is not anti-national for using MNC products. For whatever n number of times I had seen the ad, I had never seen Baba Ramdev using any word even remotely near to being “anti-national” for anyone who bought MNC products. So I looked at it again, and again and still could not find anti-national or its Hindi equivalent in any of its advertisements. Of course, this is a part of gimmick of playing the victim-card as being called “anti-national” and this missile is not hurled at just Baba Ramadev but several others who actually never used the word. But there also looks to be one more reason why this frustration is coming out against Baba Ramdev by the elites and India’s rising middle and upper middle class.
Every-time I see people or groups ridiculing Baba Ramdev or his business, I realize the kind of hypocrisy that we, India’s rising middle class is. For the MBA class and likes, Baba Ramdev is that Sadhu-Baba who has risen from farsh to arsh in non-traditional manner. He is the langot-clad guy who has given sleepless nights to the MNCs run by some of our most talented management pass-outs. He is giving a run-for-money and more to the Harvard and IIM prodigies armed with their excels, PPTs and analysis, a qualification that our middle class dreams of. It is understandable why and what Ramdev means to the management circles.
But the bigger question to us is, the aspirational class. For us, the only legit way to be rich is to study hard , getting to IIT/IIM, join an MNC and earn in hordes. Unfortunately, neither Ramdev himself is from the elite league, nor does he employ them in a conventional MNC way, in-fact I doubt if any employee is of the elite-league at all. Another fashionable way is to do a start-up, but then Ramdev does not even belong to that standard definition of startup where how great your startup is, depends on the angel investors and rounds of funding, not to forget, it has to be an e-commerce industry where you sell chai, coffee, Doodh, Patti at click of a button and everything else is just Baniye Ki Dukan. He just started something from scratch a few years ago, is somewhere above 5000 Cr and fastly heading to 10000 Cr. This is too disruptive to be disruptive and we don’t like it, AT ALL!
And lastly, we don’t like the way Ramdev markets himself and his products. We only believe in marketing gimmicks when they are made by beautiful and suave models, preferably adoring a bright white lab coat or sexy clothes. Of course both Ramdev and MNCs make equally broad claims, both far from truth, but then we ridicule him, because at some level we realize that is not what we aspire to be. We want to be fooled, but in the way we want. We will accept a foreigner when he says, charcoal is bad, we will again accept when he says charcoal is actually good, but we will ridicule a Baba and even our grandma who makes such a claim in the first place.
When a soft-drink sells itself in name of love, friendship etc and all emotions, we see nothing wrong, when a chocolate sells itself as the perfect symbol of Raksha-Bandhan, we have no issues. Any MNC can sell itself in name of sentimental crap and we are ready to buy let alone question it but there is something worth ridiculing when Ramdev wants to sell it in name of Indian-ness or as he says Bhartiyata, we want to take shots at him for taking refugee of Indian-ness. Everyone knows a skin crean does not make you fair, shampoos don’t give you the smooth silky hair they show, none of the restaurant-jaisa-readymix makes restaurant jaisi dish but we buy it, but when Ramdev sells in name of herbal, everyone from AIB to TVF and who-not are up and running mocking him.
I agree that a lot of his products are not upto the mark, in fact he just markets some of the products manufactured elsewhere, but some are really good and no matter what you or me think of it, he is here to stay for long, thanks to the actual Samajhdar public of India!