News / Asia

    Popular Indian Yoga Guru Could Influence Election

    Rebecca Byerly
    Every morning tens of millions of people watch Baba Ramdev, one of India's most popular yoga gurus, on television. Internationally known for reintroducing yoga and good health practices to the subcontinent, Ramdev is now using his powerful platform to send a political message.

    Gopal Singh Bisht says he was healed from Hepatitis B under Ramdev’s guidance. He believes it’s now his duty to spread the guru’s message. Soon, he will join thousands of others in traveling across India to spread the guru's message of yoga and self-reliance, while also influencing voters in the 2014 national elections.

    “We want to preach to people and make them understand what is correct and what is wrong and what is only illusions they talk about," he explains. "This is how people will know the truth and select the best candidate.”

    Ramdev believes supporters like Bisht are crucial to help bring about change in India.

    “We will go in every house in every village and city," the guru says. "Our volunteers will talk to every villager. Coming five, ten, 25 years we will change. We want to change socially, economically, spiritually, and politically.”

    Ramdev has emerged as one of the country's most vocal anti-corruption crusaders. He says the greatest threat facing India is the illegal money many wealthy Indians keep stashed away in overseas bank accounts.

    A strong believer in Gandhi’s ideas of self-reliance, Ramdev wants Indians to boycott all foreign products and only buy Indian brands.

    “India has everything we need. We don’t need foreign support,” he notes.

    Haridwar housewife Arun Rathi has taken Ramdev's message to heart. She says her son has stopped wearing jeans and has become more politically aware.

    “We use products from India so that our own country gains," she says. "My son asks me before buying anything. ‘Is it an Indian product?’”

    But political activist Shazia IImi isn’t convinced Ramdev’s ideas are realistic. She, like some other political experts in India, believe Ramdev could be galvanizing support for the country's main opposition the Bharatiya Janata Party.

    "He can be seen as a force multiplier for the BJP in the elections," she explains, "So, his followers can really support BJP in a huge way.”

    “We don’t support anyone," Ramdev insists. "Who we support we will announce before the 2014 elections.”

    Bisht and Rathi see Ramdev as a political savior. They’re investing their time and hopes in what they believe is his ability to transform India -- one person, family, and village at a time.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: G Subhash from: San Jose, CA
    October 02, 2012 9:46 PM
    For those who don't realize this, Shazia Ilmi is a Muslim name. Although Muslims comprise 13% of India, they are a crucial constituency of the ruling Congress Party, and therefore, opposed to the BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party, meaning Party of the Indian Masses). They are also very suspicious of Hindus. However, the BJP's record when it ran India was strongly pro-business and pragmatic.

    Although derided by the Congress as the "Hindutva" or Hinduness party, it was the BJP that took India out of the the Congress' rut, called the "Hindu rate of growth". They also embraced Israel for the first time and embarked on a well-controlled nuclear weapons program as a buffer against China.

    The Western media have forgotten that the Congress is a socialist party dedicated to hand-outs rather than growth. India will do well to eject the Congress and elect the BJP. The country can't achieve its potential with socialism, central dominance, and a deeply corrupt elite in cahoots with givernment.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora