If there is one thing that Baba Ramdev is good at besides doing asanas, then it has to be the yoga guru’s ability to make the headlines. Ramdev, who shuttles between being a fitness guru, political activist and business tycoon, heads Patanjali Ayurveda, whose impressive line-up of herbal and organic products compete with leading companies like Dabur and Hindustan Unilever.
Despite a slowdown in the Indian Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry, Patanjali is aggressively pursuing its expansion and marketing plans. However, Ramdev isn’t as politically cautious as one would expect an astute businessman to be.
Just a few months back Ramdev was in the news for threatening to behead people who disrespected Bharat Mata. “We respect this country’s law and constitution, otherwise if anybody disrespects Bharat Mata, we have the capability of beheading not one but thousands and lakhs,” said Ramdev at an event organized by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The architect of Patanjali International Yoga Foundation is back in the news courtesy India Today’s latest cover story. The photograph with Ramdev on the cover has invited the wrath of Twiterrati who have held it to be objectionable.
While some Twitter users have used the cover image to poke fun at Ramdev, others have questioned the very need of publishing it.
Sensing the backlash that their cover image has invited, India Today’s opinion website DailyO published a piece titled “Why I shot Baba Ramdev the way I did for India Today cover” by photographer Bandeep Singh.
“When India Today decided to do a cover story on Baba Ramdev, my biggest challenge was to create an image which people have not seen. An image that would arrest attention and draw you to pick the issue up to flip inside,” wrote Singh who happens to be the Group Photo Editor of India Today.
Singh mentioned that he had captured several clichéd images of Ramdev but wasn’t satisfied with them. “On our way back I hear my colleague Kaushik Deka and Baba Ramdev discuss his business mantra. I am doing the “ulta” thing of being my own brand ambassador. Now I am scheduled to do a photoshoot with Babaji doing yoga at his ashram. The moment I heard the word “ulta” it was an eureka moment,” explained Singh.
He added that the idea was to shatter stereotypes as a baba taking on multinationals and building his own line of products was a unique development. “It disrupts many stereotypes. It’s actually turning corporate logic upside down and in the process spirituality upside down – a shirshasana! I had my concept,” commented Singh.