(Note: Originally posted at CRI)
Note. This post is counterpoint to our guest post arguing for entry of Baba Ramdev. I am restricting myself to the specific question of Baba Ramdev, however the original post raises many interesting broader points, which I will defer for some at later date, as it is difficult to respond coherently to all the points in a single post.
Baba Ramdev, or to be more precise his foray into politics, is topic du jour among “the right wing ” netizens. He has managed to electrify lot of good and sensible people. To an extent that is understandable. Metaphorically speaking, he is taking fighting into the enemy camp which is any day a better strategy then trying to fire-bomb your own army (which is all what BJP seems to be capable nowadays).
Now I do concede that right wing could do a lot worse than Baba Ramdev. From what we know of the man, Baba Ramdev appears to be an honest and sincere man. More importantly he is a patriot, and this is what attracts many to him (but not me), apolitical.
Even conceding all that I don’t think his involvement in politics is such a good idea. Problem will Baba Ramdev, like most of the Indians, is that he believe in what can only be called as Underpant gnome theory of political science, going something like this
1. Elect a charismatic leader with personally admirable qualities.
3. Mission accomplished!
You see, the problem with this. If you guessed step 2 with the question marks , hey you just won a million dollar from a Nigerian dictator’s bank account.
Step 2, which to reiterate, Baba Ramdev (like most Indian) misses is the ideas. What are his specific political ideas, what policies he is in for, what are his specific proposals. We don’t know, because there aren’t any (to best of my knowledge).
So what will happen, when Baba Ramdev does win elections? Well as Edmund Burke said a wise man learns from the past, and as it turns out we have seen this movie before.
And this is why I am not swayed by him being apolitical. Truth is, politics is not reformed by apolitical people (by which I mean people who are not familiar with the politics and disdainful of it) entering into politics, but only by politicians.
There is another point, if Baba Ramdev does enter into politics, the event, will without doubt, raise expectations of middle class (excluding the cosmopolitan flotsam, ofcourse), what will happen to them when this experiment fails, as it surely will, like it always has? The disappointed and bitter middle class will sink even more into morass of indifference, fatalism and cynicism, thus making the problem even more intractable.
However, in my opinion, the most important argument against Baba Ramdev’s political foray, is that he is much more valuable outside formal politics.
I will explain it. I am a cultural nationalist. I hold that the real strength of India is not its army or democracy but its culture. If, to quote Iqbal, winds of time have not been able to destroy us, even as once mighty empires laid waste before it, it is to our innate spirituality to which the credit should go.
As long as we follow Dharma, no one can vanquish us, and if we let go of it, no one can save us.
We require, and are eternally grateful to Sadhus like Baba Ramdev for nurturing Dharma and making sure we do not forget our real heritage.