Millennium Post

Billionaire Baba

Indian mysticism has had a romantic appeal throughout the world. Both Apple Inc co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had come to India to spend time in select ashrams before finding their true calling. Apple products and social media platform Facebook have revolutionised and transformed the industry in which they operate. Members of the famous English rock band Beatles had spent time at Maharshi Yogi's Rishikesh ashram and many of the band's famous songs were penned during this stay. A large number of Indian saints and gurus have set up their centres all over the world. Beginning from Swami Vivekananda's famous Chicago address and the subsequent proliferation of Ram Krishna Math ashrams to the Autobiography of a Yogi written by Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India—Indian mysticism has had the world in its comfortable grip. Sri Aurobindo's understanding of philosophy and Osho's philosophy of understanding oneself had their international followers in a spell of enlightenment and spiritual orgy. The presence of the grand ISKCON and Radha Swami temples across the globe bring people closer to devotion and spirituality in a world where earning money and spending it frivolously is the motto of life. Besides these famous saints, gurus and their ashrams, there are a large number of spiritual masters with centres in the country who try to help people come out of their fear and rut of daily routine to lead a fearless and purposeful life, leading to moksha and salvation when the physical body stops functioning. Both Osho (drawing on Jaina philosophy) and Sri Aurobindo provide a very clear hypothesis of what happens thereafter. But in the long and illustrious history of Indian spiritual masters, none had the witticism of Baba Ramdev. He began with teaching yoga and ended up selling Atta, Chawal, Dal, and everything else in that category. He claimed Kapal Bhati – the simultaneous act of taking the stomach inside and exhaling noisily through the nose – can cure any disease and can supply continuous energy to the body even if the person does not eat anything. Thereafter, he started the business of Patanjali Ayurveda medicines for all the diseases that plague mankind today. He appears on TV in his loin clothes along with the slim and fit Shilpa Shetty as his company is ready with a new line of business in readymade garments including jeans. He is an ascetic but he would like his followers to eat out at a new of chain of restaurants he is planning to open soon. Multi-national companies in FMCG business like Hindustan Unilever (HUL) were on his target ever since his company Patanjali ventured into the FMCG business in 2007, now he has added McDonald's and KFC to the list. His chief grievances against the MNCs circumscribe the excessive profiteering by these companies. The two most famous Patanjali products, Dant Kanti toothpaste and Desi ghee, are priced at Rs 40 and Rs 290 for 100 gm and 500 gm packs respectively. Will anybody comment if they are any cheaper? Baba Ramdev's company Patanjali reported a turnover of Rs 10, 561 crores ($1.6 billion) for the year ending March 31, 2017. Dant Kanti's share in the overall turnover was Rs 940 crore, Kesh Kanti's Rs 825 crore, herbal soaps' Rs 574 crore, honey's Rs 350 crore and Atta's Rs 407 crore. And, on Tuesday, Baba Ramdev and his associate and Patanjali CEO Acharya Balakrishna shared the stage with Alibaba-backed Paytm's Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Softbank-funded Flipkart's Kalyan Krishnamurthy as the Sanyasi-duo announced a big bang entry into online retail. Thanks to these online retail platforms, Patanjali products will now be available in other countries as well. And, this brings Patanjali ever closer to foreign funds, foreign retail and the possibility of turning into a multi-national itself. Besides its own online retail platform, Patanjali products will be available on Bigbasket, ShopClues, Netmeds, Grofers, Flipkart and Amazon. The company expects the online business to contribute 15 per cent to the total turnover, which is more than Rs 1,500 crore at the current level of turnover. The colloquialism of running a business empire of the size that Baba Ramdev is having at the moment, and he plans to at least double the revenue this year, includes financial, marketing, banking and management jargons. So, Baba Ramdev's Patanjali is scouting for funds to drive growth, start a new business of fabric and garments, drinking water, restaurant chain, and more. He is reported to have been in talks with two banks for a Rs 1,000 crore loan. The sanyasi-duo of Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishna certainly need to find time from their busy schedule to practice yoga to keep their mind-body-soul in utmost fitness.
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