On Thursday, more out of curiosity than anything else, I tagged along with a friend who was heading to Delhi’s Ram Lila Maidan. Baba Ramdev who was, till now, trying to clean the body through yoga, is now out to cleanse the body politic (thanks for the line, rama). And has consequently announced that he will begin a fast, from saturday onwards, till the government agrees to to his suggestions on how to crack down on corruption.
The whole thing is fascinating. Like Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev is fasting not to get his grievances registered. But to have his recommendations accepted as policy. You, dear gentle reader, can read about his demands, in this quick and dirty story I filed after that little traipse through Ram Lila Maidan.
I am still processing what I saw there. Talk to the people there and you hear one uncomplicated narrative repeatedly: India was once a ‘Soney Ki Chidiya’ — the golden sparrow, the need to restore that state of affluence, the allusions to an ancient, akhand bharat that also comprised Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan and Nepal, etc, etc, etc. My friend Rama calls this Vedic Nationalism. I need to understand this way of thinking. Hmmm.
Also, I switch on the TV and I hear talking heads banging about the illegitimacy of Ramdev as a leader. Or mocking the views of these people. To me, Ramdev seems to be as legitimate a leader as any — a large bunch of people have voluntarily agreed to follow him. As for the views, the fact that they think differently from us English speaking elite doesn’t mean they are wrong. Right and wrong, as my academic friends would say, are premodern concepts.
Am heading back there later today. More for my own understanding than anything else.