Billionaire Acharya Balkrishna's credentials under the scanner
Acharya Balkrishna, 43 year old billionaire has been listed under the 'Hurun India Rich List' for 2016. He holds a 94% stake in Patanjali Ayurved and his wealth has been pegged at a mind-boggling Rs.25,600 crore. His association with Ramdev and the Patanjali brand dates back to the 1990s. Over the years controversies have swirled around him concerning his education, nationality and credentials.
Balkrishna: The Marketing maverick
He founded Divya Pharmacy with Baba Ramdev in the 1990s which provided Ramdev a public platform. Patanjali Ayurved was set-up ten years ago and by financial year 2017 it's set to cross $1 billion in sales. Balkrishna is the 'brainchild' behind Patanjali's stupendous success. He's responsible for the 'swadeshi' and ayurvedic branding of Patanjali's products that have rattled other FMCG majors.
Turnover up by 11 times
In 2012, Patanjali Ayurveda reported a turnover of Rs.450 crore. Within four years, the turnover touched a mind-boggling Rs.5,000 crore. The credit for this is attributed to Baba Ramdev who as the face of the company has been promoting Patanjali on TV and yoga camps.
Balkrishna: A low profile CEO
Balkrishna is known to prefer the simpler life. His use of technology is limited; he doesn't own expensive gadgets and prefers to read from printouts as opposed to a computer. He claims to work 15 hours a day, takes no leave and is hands-on with every aspect of the business from conception to development to packaging and nothing hits the stores without his approval.
Education degrees not credible?
Balkrishna, Ramdev's closest aide was his junior at the Khanpur Gurukul in Haryana. His qualifications were under the scanner; his high-school degree and Sanksrit degree from the Sampurna Sanskrit University, appear to be dubious as they don't exist on records. He came under CBI's radar in 2011 and was charged with cheating and criminal conspiracy for providing fake degrees for a passport.
Discovery of Sanjivani booti!
Patanjali Yogpeeth Ashram describes Balkrishna as a "great scholar of ayurveda, Sanskrit language and the Vedas" and have made intriguing claims that credit him with "rediscovering the Sanjivani buti" - the famed herb which was believed to have rescued Lakshman in the epic of Ramayan.
Passport forgery case
According to CBI's investigation in 2011-2012, Balkrishna's passport along with his academic degrees was forged. Soon after charges of 'cheating' were filed, he disappeared and his whereabouts remained unknown for long. Baba Ramdev stridently defended Balkrishna and denied all charges. The charges were dropped in 2014 when NDA came to power. An RTI inquiry revealed Patanjali had donated Rs.11 lakh to BJP in 2009.