I bought this book off Amazon before the Delhi high court swung into action and banned its sale.
It’s a quick read – not more than an hour and a half – that summarises his ‘life so far’.
The author’s admiration of Ramdev and how far he has come couldn’t be clearer. She continually talks about the ‘rags to riches’ part. His personal charm. His business acumen. His ability to spot an opportunity. His marketing prowess. Everything except spirituality. Those robes of saffron clearly don’t mean much – either to Ramdev or to the author. It’s merely another accessory in the marketing arsenal. Something that provides more cachet to his ‘swadeshi’ and ‘sewa’ platform.
Unfortunately, I am not able to share this enthusiasm for success at all costs. It was distracting to see the author constantly trying to strike an admiring tone. A chapter might well end with how Ramdev’s behaviour at a press conference after his guru, Shankar Dev’s disappearance was strange, but she will go back to striking an admiring note in the very next chapter. I understand her quest for balance – but where is the balance in admiring a man who is a fraud at this level and writing about him as a possible inspiration for generations to come?
This may read as a criticism of the book and make it seem like I didn’t like it. I did like reading it. But it made me very uncomfortable. It reminded me that my perch as an urban, educated woman, is not a very stable place. That twig I’m holding onto is a dried up one rooted shallowly in a dry land. It reminded me that India is a scary society where the brutality exhibited to a young Ramdev is routine. That lack of education and opportunity are the norm. The only path out of this hell is to lie, steal and cheat. And the scariest part – a book like this makes it seem like this norm is something we must accept. And that all the thuggish behaviour on display is to be admired.
I would recommend reading this book. But I would recommend selective absorption of the author’s attitude.