In January, at a meeting of the Unnat Bharat Yojana, the organizations that were identified to work with the IITs were Ramdev’s Patanjali Pith, Gayatri Pariwar (a religious sect), Swami Sampoornanand, Swami Muktanand, Swami Rajendra Das, Swami Vishudanand and Vanvasi Rashtriya (the tribal wing of BJP’s ideological mentor – RSS). The idea is to make technology reach Indian farmers to help improve their crop and lives – with each IIT adopting 10 ‘model villages’.
It’s worrying that all the organizations chosen are of a religious bent. There is no scientific agricultural group that can be counted on to work in an unbiased manner.
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev recently appeared on NDTV to clarify why he was an apt choice for the scheme. Speaking at a luxury farmhouse located on the outskirts of Delhi, Ramdev said, “I want to remove some misconceptions that the English Media people have. They assume that a saadhu, sant, fakir can have no connection with Science. I was born in a farmer’s house. An uneducated farmer’s house.”
Claiming that he can converse on medical science, Ramdev stated, “I’m a scientific baba. I live for Hindustan. I sleep on the ground.”
The minutes of the January meeting reveal that Ramdev pledged an offer of Rs 200 crore to the Unnat Bharat Yojana. Asked about the offer, he stated, “You are talking about Rs. 200 crore, I have already spent Rs. 500 crore on it (helping farmers)!” He drew attention to the setting up of Food Parks to ‘help farmers’ and became defensive when the Food Parks were described as his business.
“I will not give 200 crore to Srinivasan or IIT. I will give it for a village’s prosperity,” claimed Ramdev when pressed further about his offer.
When asked about some of the unscientific claims he had made so far, such as the curing of homosexuality and the manufacturing of a pill that guarantees male children, Baba Ramdev said that his work is “scientific, universal and secular”. He blamed the pill controversy on an old man who he claims has gone senile after sitting in parliament.
Though Ramdev claimed that he is not a BJP-created baba, he refused to comment on how the Modi sarkar had been doing its job for the past year, saying “I don’t want to give any statement and invite trouble.”