The Chinese connection: Patanjali’s ‘phoren’ venture

‘Hyper-national’ Patanjali Group of Baba Ramdev signed an MoU with a Chinese industrial estate on Saturday. Group’s MD Balkrishna has called the move ‘proud moment for India’

Ashutosh Sharma

Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved Ltd has signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with a Chinese firm to promote ‘Ayurveda research and science’. Ironically, till last year Ramdev was campaigning for the boycott of Chinese goods.

Patanjali’s Chinese connections appear to preexist the MoU though, as media reported in February this year that the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence had seized tonnes of red Sandalwood belonging to Patanjali while on its way to China.

Even as the CEO and MD of Patanjali, Acharya Balkrishna, shared the news and photographs on social media from China’s Hebei province, where the MoU was signed, a section of Ramdev’s followers frowned on the Group’s international foray. While a few apprehended that the Group would be swallowed by the Chinese in a few years, others appeared unhappy at the collaboration by the Swadeshi company with not just a Videshi company but with an ‘enemy’ country.

A few felt let down at the use of English and Chinese in the MoU document rather than Chinese and Hindi! The majority of supporters by far, however, agreed with the Patanjali CEO that it was indeed a ‘proud moment for India and Indian culture’. Balkrishna also shared a thanksgiving video on Twitter, which can be viewed here:

“Under the MoU, the Government of China has promised to provide required resources and assistance to India in the field of art, culture, tradition, yoga, research for Ayurveda, herbal medicines, yoga centres, tourism, IT sector, education, media, and so on,” Balkrishna gushed on Facebook and Twitter.

“Five years from now, Chinese will buy Patanjali global business, mark my words,” remarked a user, Ramesh Runthala, replying to Balkrishna’s post on Twitter, adding that “Baba has shot himself in the foot (Baba ne apne paaon pe kulhari de maari). Jai Ho!”

Ramdev had established the Patanjali Ayurvedic Limited along with Balkrishna in 2006. The business has boomed after 2014 following the Modi Government and BJP ruled states providing sops, subsidies, tax holidays and highly subsidised land, enabling the Group to venture into Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and garment business as well.

Balkrishna with an estimated wealth of ₹57,000 crore, was declared the eleventh richest man in India by Barclays India Rich List in September this year. In the list, Anil Ambani was 44th, with an estimated net worth of ₹19,500 crore.

In the run up to 2014 Lok Sabha elections, a trust run by Ramdev — that spearheaded Bharat Swabhiman Andolan in the past — had pledged to promote “Swadeshi” in Indian economy and governance. During Doklam stand-off between India and China, Ramdev had asserted that India must be prepared for a possible war with China.

In the same manner, amid a lot of noise around Prime Minister Modi’s “Make In India” struggle, the bronze panels for Sardar Patel's mega statue—which was inaugurated on October 31—were cast in a foundry in China. And as the chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi had constantly launched a tirade against the then “weak” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over India’s stand-offs with China.

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Published: 16 Dec 2018, 12:11 PM