Symbol of made in India


Symbol of made in India
Baba Ramdev

Ramdev plans to expand Patanjali overseas in a big way, starting, as many Indian businesses do, from Dubai

By Nithin Belle

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Published: Mon 14 Aug 2017, 6:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 14 Aug 2017, 8:00 PM

The driving time from Dehradun airport to Hardwar, where Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Yogpith is located in a lovely area - a distance of less than 70 km - does not usually take more than two to three hours. 
But that day last month was one of the busiest, and most unorganised days in Hardwar, with literally hundreds of thousands of pilgrims thronging the city for an annual festival. It took nearly six hours to reach his place, but the charming Ramdev waited patiently for the interview he had promised.
Not surprisingly, Ramdev began the interview by talking about his visits to Dubai and the way he admired the well-planned city. "I have been all over the world, to the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, Africa and of course the Gulf," he says. "But I've yet to find a better airport than the one in Dubai. Everything is well-planned - the design, the construction, the infrastructure."
Baba Ramdev is a great admirer of Dubai and its rulers. "They have planned for a city 50 years ahead of their time," he says. "In India, we cannot even think of planning for five years."
The yoga guru spent the International Yoga Day in June 2016 in Dubai. "There were nearly 50,000 people celebrating the event," he recalls. Ramdev describes Dubai as "an ideal and progressive city, where everything is praiseworthy.
"The rulers of Dubai think about the future - not just 10 to 20 years, but even 50 to 500 years ahead," he explains.
For a man who was born in a small village in Haryana more than 50 years ago, Ramdev has indeed travelled a long way. His Patanjali business group is one of the fastest-growing in India. Ramdev now plans to expand overseas in a big way, starting - as many Indian businesses do - from Dubai.
"Patanjali products are very popular in Dubai and other parts of the Gulf," he explains. "We want to meet their needs and will start exporting in a big way shortly."
Spelling out his business strategy, Ramdev says that is it based on three basic principles - world-class quality of products, low and affordable prices and distributing 100 per cent of profits for charity (including 70 per cent for education of the poor).
"About 25 years ago, when I started this journey, we did not have anything," he recalls. "Today, millions of people in India and other parts of the world have confidence and faith in us."
Ramdev, a stringent critic of multinationals operating in India, says unlike them, he does not have a hefty budget to spend on his customers or even potential new ones.
But of course, he has remarkable ambitions for the growth of the Patanjali brand and its product portfolio. "We have the biggest facility in Hardwar, which today has a production capacity of Rs100 billion," he says. "In Tejpur in Assam, we have put up a plant, which will churn out products worth nearly Rs200 billion."
Similarly, Patanjali is putting up an export hub in Noida, which will produce goods worth Rs100 billion. A few other units being set up in Nagpur, Indore, and one in Andhra Pradesh, will also produce goods worth Rs100 billion each, he adds. Ramdev wants to operate five of the largest food parks in the world.
"Besides the five mega units that are coming up, we are also developing 50 smaller ones," he says. And the excited Baba Ramdev talks about getting into other fields including milk dairies, textiles, natural medicines, about a thousand retail stores (each of 2,000 sq ft), homecare and personal care products
Patanjali's turnover would more than double to Rs200 billion by next year. "By 2020, our turnover would rise to Rs500 billion and by 2025, we would have touched the Rs1 trillion figure," he says proudly.
And after the expected success in India, he wants to diversify abroad. "I want to put up manufacturing units around the world - in Dubai, African countries, Nepal and Bangladesh. I have even got a proposal from Pakistan for setting up a plant."
But despite being aggressive in expanding his business, Ramdev says he is opposed to liberalisation. "I want decentralisation of power and prosperity," he says. "We will not bring in money from the developing world. We will do it from the developed world though."
Asked whether he plans to come out with a public issue of shares, Ramdev says it is not needed in India. "Just look at our track record over the past 25 years," he notes. "We have not taken money from others. We had taken some bank loans for five years, but repaid them within three. Today, nearly 25 banks are after us, asking us to take loans," he laughs. "Even international banks, including a Japanese one, are keen to lend to us."
He also wants to diversify his business. Recently, he's started off with a security business in a small way. "But we will expand it and over the next five years, I hope to have 50,000 to 100,000 people working in my security agency."
Education is another sector that he is looking at seriously. "We will put up one of the world's biggest universities in the National Capital Region," he says. "We already have a thousand acres of land for the campus. It will have 50,000 to 100,000 students."
Ramdev - who claims he does not have any money, bank account or assets - says his objective is to take India ahead. "We've have given jobs to 100,000 people so far," he says. "Over the next five years, I want to take this to half a million."
He also claims to have invested about Rs5 billion in setting up the world's largest Ayurvedic research institute, and plans to spend another Rs10 billion over the next few years.
Asked about his political ambitions, Ramdev says he has none. "There was a political vacuum in the past, with scams running into crores of rupees," he says. "I agitated for five years and the government changed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is governing the right way and the effects will be felt over the next five to 10 years. He is not building vote banks, but the nation."
Acharya Balkrishna, a close aide of Ramdev's and co-founder and general secretary of the Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust, Hardwar, has also visited Dubai often in the past. "We did a successful yoga programme in Dubai," he notes. "Yoga is not something religious, it is for humanity."
Referring to the business operations of Patanjali, Balkrishna says that one of the objectives of the group is to change the perception abroad that Indian products are not good. "Made in India products are good," he says. "At our Nagpur special economic zone facility, we are making products that compare with American and European standards."
Referring to the remarkable success of Patanjali, Balkrishna says one reason is that people from all classes buy the brand; the rich buy it because of its high quality, while the poor go for it because of its low price.
According to him, Patanjali products are priced low, as the company's focus is not on profits. "We don't have pressures of profits and return on investments," he says. "Our work is to serve the people, so we are not worried about profits."
With Patanjali focused on serving customers and providing products at low prices, the time has come when companies - including MNCs - will not be able to cheat them any longer, points out Balkrishna. "No one had challenged them in the past, but we have done it now," he says. "They will have to fall in line by giving good products at the right price, if they have to survive."
Balkrishna believes that the parallel economy and black money will be eliminated from India with the recent changes - including demonetisation and the introduction of GST - being launched. "We did lose money because of demonetisation, but it is a loss for the benefit of the country. If the country benefits, it is profitable for us. We should not look at these things as a business, but should consider it as a nation-building effort," he adds.

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