News / Asia

Indian Yoga Guru Ends Hunger Strike

An old Indian woman offers food to yoga guru Baba Ramdev to break his fast in New Delhi, India, Aug. 14, 2012.
An old Indian woman offers food to yoga guru Baba Ramdev to break his fast in New Delhi, India, Aug. 14, 2012.
VOA News
NEW DELHI –  In India, a popular yoga guru leading an anti-corruption campaign has called off a six-day hunger strike.  The anti-corruption crusade began as a civil society movement last year, but is now taking on partisan political overtones.
 
Baba Ramdev sipped lime juice Tuesday as he ended a hunger strike calling for the repatriation of illegal money he alleges is stashed by Indians overseas.
 
Cheered by thousands of followers, the saffron robed, bearded, yoga guru said he will renew his campaign before the 2014 general elections. Ramdev has vowed to throw out the governing Congress Party, which he holds responsible for widespread corruption.
 
As he attacked the ruling party, he was joined by top leaders of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party during his six day protest.
 
Political commentators say the yoga guru’s targeting of the Congress Party and the presence of BJP leaders on his stage underlines his political agenda.  
 
“Ramdev is clearly a politically-supported, politically-sponsored, politically-intended movement, that is what comes out very clearly. It is so obvious,” noted Bhaskara Rao, who heads the Center for Media Studies in New Delhi.
 
The yoga guru's protest was the second anti-corruption campaign in New Delhi recently. Earlier this month, another popular social activist, Anna Hazare, went on a hunger strike in a renewed push for a powerful anti-graft ombudsman. But he abandoned the protest within days, and announced that he would launch a political party to fight graft.   
Civil society activists Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev emerged on the public stage last year as a series of multi billion dollar scandals grabbed headlines and public anger against corruption boiled over. The movements evoked massive response as they promised a revolution to clean up governance.
 
But a year on, popular response has been much more muted. And what began as civil society movements are headed towards a political stage.
 
Kiran Bedi, one of the most prominent faces of the India Against Corruption Movement led by Anna Hazare, says the government’s continued inaction about their demand for an anti-corruption ombudsman prompted them to enter the political fray and fight the system from within.
 
“We realized that the government was being totally insensitive, it was not responding," she explained. "Some of the members were very keen that agitations are leading us nowhere, we need to step out.”
 
Political analysts say the civil society movements played an invaluable role in flagging corruption as an issue that needs urgent attention. But not everyone is convinced the move from social to political activism will help the cause of cleaning up India’s pervasive corruption.
 
Rao says the anti-corruption movement faces the risk of losing momentum in the rough and tumble debate among India’s political factions.   
 
“We already have too many political parties, and all of them preach, there is too much rhetoric about corruption," Rao said. "This will add to the existing rhetoric. Actual curbing of corruption, how do you go about on that agenda, is not coming out.”
 
However,  India Against Corruption activists are optimistic that they will widen the range of options to voters in a country that has become cynical about politics.    
 
Bedi hopes the anti-corruption civil society activists will successfully make the transition from a grass roots movement to a grass roots political party.
 
“Maybe they could offer a new alternative, the right alternative," Bedi suggested. "Politics was never dirty pre-independence. It was considered an element of supreme sacrifice. I am being optimistic, that the new outfit may move toward finally giving an ethical outfit.” 
 
Some of the thousands of ordinary men and women who joined the huge crowds at the protests last year are watching with trepidation. They welcome the entry of new faces in the political arena, but also fear their leaders may end up becoming a part of the system they criticize.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid