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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs