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Consuming Indigeneity: Baba Ramdev, Patanjali Ayurveda and the Swadeshi Project of Development

Jyotirmaya Tripathy
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Jyotirmaya Tripathy: Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, 
IIT Madras, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Journal of Developing Societies, 2019, vol. 35, issue 3, 412-430

Abstract: How does the discourse of indigeneity converse with the imperatives of economic and cultural globalization in a postcolonial state like India? The complexity of the question and the possibility of multi-layered responses become all the more intriguing when such a discourse is promoted by Ramdev, a yoga guru turned entrepreneur. Responding to the question, the article focuses on the role of tradition in normative development thought and its mainstreaming in a culture-conscious India, the postcolonial desire for Swadeshi (exemplified in Patanjali Ayurveda) and the possibility of a consumption pattern that goes beyond individual gratification. To begin with, the article draws from a recent controversy which brought into popular discussion the attitude of foreign companies vis-Ã -vis cultural sentiments. It addresses the question of tradition in Western development theory and how that theorization is interrogated in contemporary development practices. Then it traces the evolution of Swadeshi as an attempt at epistemic and economic autonomy and how such thinking is co-opted by Ramdev in advancing the fortunes of Patanjali. This deployment of Swadeshi vocabulary is then combined with the practice of consumption that is loaded with associations of indigeneity and nationalism. In the process, the article offers a template for reworking some of the common sensical assumptions about tradition, development and consumption.

Keywords: indigeneity; Swadeshi; Patanjali; Ayurveda; culture-conscious consumption (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1177/0169796X19873213

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