04/14/2015, 00.00
INDIA
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Haryana: yoga guru becomes "minister" to promote (radical) Hindu values

by Nirmala Carvalho
Baba Ramdev is set to promote and supervise Ayurvedic practices in the State. The government wants to make yoga compulsory in schools. For Dalit rights advocate Lenin Raghuvanshi, the appointment is designed “to boost fascist forces and the concept of Hindu state".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The government of the Indian state of Haryana has named Baba Ramdev as the state’s ambassador for yoga and Ayurveda, a “status equivalent to Cabinet Minister,” Haryana's Health and Sports Minister, Anil Vij tweeted.

Lenin Raghuvanshi, founder and president of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), is an advocate for the rights of Dalits (untouchables). Speaking to AsiaNews about the controversial guru, whom he knows personally, he said that "The appointment of Baba Ramdev was made to boost fascist forces and the concept of Hindu state".

Minister Vij said that yoga would become mandatory in state schools. The government will build yogshala – i.e. yoga rooms – in every town and in some 6,500 villages, under the guru’s supervision. "The inclusion of yoga in school programmes will make Haryana a model, based on traditional Indian values,” said the politician.

More than a guru, Baba Ramdev is viewed as a business magnate. Since 1995, he has built a virtual yoga empire, stretching from India to a remote Scottish island, with a fortune estimated at 11 billion rupees (US$ 240 million). However, many have questioned the origin of this money.

At the same time, he has always been very close to India’s Hindu nationalists, who on many occasions have defended him.

"Baba Ramdev was very active when the anti-corruption movement was pushing for the Jan Lokpal Bill and the restitution of dirty money,” Raghuvanshi told AsiaNews. “What has happened to the bill and the anti-corruption fight?"

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