India’s yoga guru, Baba Ramdev, is on a hunger strike starting yesterday, along with 100,000 of his followers including some in Houston, Texas (click on the prior link to catch the Houston Chronicle‘s Kate Shellnut comparing Ramdev’s popularity to that of Oprah or Joel Osteen!). He’ll fast to the death, Ramdev says, if he has to. His demands?
Mr Ramdev has called for the death penalty for corrupt officials, the abolition of the 500 rupee ($10) and 1000 rupee notes, the banning of Western medicines, and the complete dismantling of the systems of government, taxation, education and justice inherited from Britain.
The practice of hunger striking, often on the doorstep of the offender (or in Ramdev’s case, at festival grounds in New Dehli), goes back to 400 to 750 BC and is mentioned in the Ramayana. However ancient the practice — and odd the demands — Ramdev’s followers will live more than two months without food. That should give the government enough time to negotiate terms.
Update: It seems there’s now some confusion as to whether Ramdev reached terms with the Indian government or not. The strike was raided by police today, the guru swears he will carry on, despite his removal from the grounds in New Dehli.