‘Godman to Tycoon- The untold story of BABA RAMDEV’- BOOK REVIEW
I finally got the time to read the book ‘Godman to Tycoon’- The untold story of Baba Ramdev by Priyanka Pathak Narian. I purchased it much before 8th August 2017, when the court banned the sale. It was there in waiting to be read.
A few nights back, between friends we had a fierce discussion on practices at Patanjali and its apparent threat to a reputed FMCG Company. It was enough for me to click open the book on my shelf in Juggernaut.in and read.
Today; Patanjali is a 10,000 Cr. turnover company; it is aiming for 20,000 Cr. by March 2018. Many believe; it will achieve the mark. Interest in the subject is natural. We have witnessed this growth storming Indian markets with a promise of Ayurveda. We have our own understanding and biases towards what’s wrong, what’s right and what the future holds for Baba and the brand? Unfortunately, book has no answers for the future. What it does best is to open incidences and episodes in the past and present it for your evaluation.
‘Godman to Tycoon’ is a short but deeply packed book with journalistic conversations. It brings alive what is in public domain and accessible to every probing person. It banks on conversations with people who have been associated with Baba Ramdev, and these are easy to trace.
There is hardly a place where the author pushes her point-of-view or tries to bias the reader. Nevertheless, there seems to be a skew in this reporting. And that is what makes Baba wanting to prevent you from reading it.
Priyanka Pathak Narian in one of her conversations says ‘When I started researching Ramdev’s life, I anticipated a spectacular rags-to-riches tale. Ramdev was born to a poor farmer and is now at the helm of an empire with over $3.6 billion! And, of course, I did find that story. However, I found so much more. There is no evidence linking Ramdev to these deaths, and he has consistently denied any involvement in the cases. Yet tragedy just seems to follow Ramdev everywhere he goes.’
As a reader, it makes you question circumstantial evidence and murky happenings. Ramdev’s life story is dotted by a mysterious murder, an odd disappearance, and a death under curious circumstances. He seems to have associated with people for his benefit and serving his ambitions. Once they have fulfilled the need and are no longer required, he has been quick enough to dissociate. The book makes him a power hunger political ambitious person lurking behind a legitimate or otherwise Ayurveda business. Good enough a description for a villain.
It is an account of a person’s life basis available information. Unfortunately for a man like me, always seeking new marketing and advertising links and insight, the book remains vague and silent on what really worked for Baba Ramdev and the brand Patanjali. It pushes the often quoted ayurvedic association, yoga guru larger than life image, trust, anti-MNC, swarajya, desi, low cost and low margin, free consultation and high-priced prescription, a thriving distribution network, outsourcing of material and production. He has been a large advertiser but one who does not acknowledge ASCI complaints. Just like it does not take any complaint against its product seriously. If one is to believe the book, quite a lot of it is without permissions and of debatable quality.
There is a short section where Patra (Ex CEO Patanjali) defines his days at Patanjali. There are stories of power struggle and groups fighting for control. Nepotism seems to have a field day at Patanjali. People drop out of game like the pawns on a chess bard. Baba Ramdev himself has many acts of omissions that are tough to explain and easily cast a shadow on his character and life. There are places where you start believing the super power and control that Baba and his gang seem to have over political parties, people and some part of legal framework.
Baba Ramdev comes across as a highly ambitious villain who never gets his hands dirty. His plans are tactical, and they seem to be working. Luck is on his side. There are enough unexplained enclosed chapters that no one is interested to read further. Whenever he has faltered and allowed the mask to fall, he has been able to cover lost ground. You have to give credit to the Godman, who is now clearly a business Tycoon. One who owns everything surrounding him, including a Scottish island called Little Cumbrae, yet, owns nothing.
You are left with a potent question. Will he be the next? There is RAM everywhere. And many may rejoice if it happens.