By Bishakha Jajodia
Luxury brand Louis Vuitton’s (LVMH) co-owned private equity fund, L Catterton wishes to invest $500 million in Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali, one of India’s biggest FMCG company with a range of Ayurveda-based products.
To this offer, Patanjali CEO Acharya Balkrishna reacted by saying, “We won’t accept any money in equity or shares but when the country is using foreign technology for progress and if foreign money comes and gives us on our conditions we will accept”, as per a report by Times Of India.
At one end, Baba Ramdev quotes that Yoga, Ayurveda and Swadeshi are not professions but a mission for them and it is his Rashtra Dharm to strengthen Swadeshi by getting rid of all the foreign companies. But on the other hand, he encourages an investment of $500 million (₹3250 crore) by Louis Vuitton for expansion of his business.
Patanjali’s salience in the global world has been constructed due to the model Baba Ramdev has based his business on. The “Swadeshi Model” has left an impressionable footprint for the Patanjali products, alluring people towards them.
In its latest advertisement, Patanjali Ayurveda propelled the shopkeepers to give prominence to its products to help fulfill the dream of Mahatma Gandhi, the key proponent of Swadeshi.
The underlining feature of Swadeshi is self-reliance which entails both the funding as well as production.
However, the recent openness to the $500 million investment offer from Louis Vuitton contradicts the funding aspect highlighted by Gandhi’s Swadeshi Model.
Also, isn’t most of the technology with which Patanjali products are made, imported?
How does this indicate self-reliance?
The definition of Swadeshi propagated by Ramdev seems hypocritical.
Supposedly, the primary concern for him has always been health in terms of physical and mental well being. But the announcement by Patanjali to step into footwear and jeans manufacturing has stupefied the masses. How will shudh Swadeshi jeans serve the purpose of better health care?
When we already have dhotis as Indianised version of jeans, how is the concept of manufacturing western jeans “Swadeshi”?
Products like Maggi, Chyawanprash, honey, whole grain wheat, toothpaste, oil etc. have already been given an improvised composition under the Patanjali brand for better health.
Introducing desi jeans will be more of an expansion of the business rather than promoting the cause of health care by the Baba Ramdev.
Although Indianised fabric and design will be used, incorporating them with the concept of jeans makes it a heterogeneous idea and not the idea pertaining to India and Indianised products.
This throws forward a tangible argument whether there will be an upcoming announcement regarding Patanjali launching its shudh Swadeshi mobile phones against the ones imported from abroad too?
Moreover, Patanjali products have been in news for controversies around failing quality tests.
(Read about it here: Ramdev’s Patanjali products fail quality test, RTI inquiry finds)
On investigating herbal Ayurvedic medicines made by the Divya Yog Pharmacy owned by Baba Ramdev, for authenticity of claims, Department of AYUSH and CPI(M) leader, Brinda Karat claimed that these contained animals materials and human bones.
If the trust has already been breached and adulterated medicines been sold, it questions the concerns as well as intentions of the smart Yogi. If foreign technologies, foreign funds and foreign concepts are part of his business strategy, it doubts the very model which Baba Ramdev is so proud of.
These questions simply insinuate the aforethought of gaining malice popularity to establish a smart business.
Image Credits: Google Images