Yoga guru Ramdev wants to enter politics, decries ‘weak leadership’(Interview)June 2nd, 2008 - 1:36 pm ICT by admin
By Madhusree Chatterjee
Hong Kong, June 2 (IANS) Indian yoga guru Swami Ramdev, who has helped popularise ancient fitness regimens and traditional ayurvedic medicine in different parts of the world, wants to contribute to politics now to realise “the India of my dreams”. “I have political ambitions, but not to grab power. I want to change the way of life and thoughts of those who are in power,” the 55-year-old guru said.
“I hate the country’s political system. It paints a negative picture of our country abroad,” Swami Ramdev told IANS in an informal chat aboard the Superstar Virgo off the South China Sea.
He is conducting on board the luxury cruise ship a five-day course in yoga and pranayam, a breathing exercise, for 1,000 people from 15 countries.
Seated on the deck of his luxury suite on the 10th floor of one of the world’s largest luxury liners, Swami Ramdev said he wanted to see the reins of the country in the hands of those who are “farsighted, humble, enterprising and transparent”.
“The leadership is weak. People are not willing to listen to the leaders. The current crop of politicians is thinking short term and is trying to divide people in the name of caste, creed and religion. It cuts across party lines,” he said.
The guru, who came across as introspective and deeply concerned about the state of Indian polity, said India was the only country where a peon (office messenger) was punished for a crime and forced out of job while murderers and criminals with police records were allowed to become legislators or MPs.
“I want to create a leader from among the masses that control 50 percent of the country’s wealth. The lawmakers will have to be accountable, have clean minds and must put national interests above everything else,” he said.
According to him, politics had become a business and India badly needs a “king who is restrained, honest and universal in approach to politics”.
Swami Ramdev said one way to ensure clean governance was to make voting mandatory. “Thirty-two countries across the world have 100 percent compulsory voting, so why not India?”
The guru said the revolution in thought that he wanted to bring about was possible through yoga.
“India has 600,000 villages and for this I intend to take yoga to each and every village by the end of the decade.”
He has set the process in motion through his trust, the Patanjali Yogpeeth in Hardwar, which has a network of 535 centres across the country.
“I will train 100,000 teachers next year from the grassroots in Sahaj Yog and pranayam so that they become master trainers and teach people in their respective villages.”
The training will be held from April 6 to July 20.
The guru’s ultimate goal is to take yoga to every corner of the world.
“Don’t call it branding or corporatisation of yoga. It is a way of life,” said the guru, who is planning to send a few teachers to China next year.
“For the Chinese, yoga is the only spiritual alternative because it does not clash with their political ideology and faith,” Ramdev told IANS.
Swami Ramdev has already made inroads into poverty-stricken and strife-torn heartlands of Africa as well as among the movers and shakers in the US, Britain and Canada with his brand of simple yoga and holistic living.
What makes him tick?
“My childhood has been an abiding influence into making me the person I am today. I was born to illiterate parents in Said Alipur village in Haryana’s Mahendranagar district and studied with second-hand books in the lamp light. But I was always at the top of the class,” he recollected with glee.
“I learnt early in life that there were deep imbalances in health, education and wealth distribution in the country.” Since then the motto that “health is the fundamental right of all human beings” has been the guiding principle of his life.
(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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