Patanjali Founder Balkrishna Enters Forbes World s Richest List
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev's close aide Acharya Balkrishna has come a long way since 1995, when he and his mentor approached the authorities to get Patanjali registered as an organisation.
The two men had only Rs 3,500 in their pockets while the officials demanded a fee of Rs 13,000. The duo borrowed Rs 5,000 each from their friends to pay the fee.
Twenty-one years later, Balkrishna has stormed into India's richest 100 club with a $2.5 billion net worth based on his 97% stake in the fast-growing Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, while e-tailer Flipkart's co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal lost out.
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev's close aide Acharya Balkrishna has come a long way since 1995, when they started this business with only Rs 3500 in pocket
Balkrishna on Thursday made his debut on the annual Forbes list of India's 100 richest people at the 48th position.
The Bansals who were ranked 86th last year with a net worth of $1.3 billion have missed the boat this year with a dip in their company's valuation.
The Flipkart co-founders did not offer any comment on the matter.
Balkrishna is among six newcomers on the list, which is topped by Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, for the ninth consecutive year.
Patanjali has grown into a company with annual turnover over Rs 5,000 crore and is targeting a Rs 10,000- crore turnover for next year
Asked to comment on start-ups like Flipkart, Balkrishna told Mail Today: "I don't know about start-ups…I don't know what this list means. I only know one thing that even with an unlisted company like ours, we have achieved a spot in global rankings like the one issued by this business magazine. I dedicate it to the 20 crore consumers of Patanjali products. Both Flipkart and Patanjali are new businesses, but with contrasting styles of functioning."
"While Flipkart is a modern-day technology-driven company providing a purely trading platform, Patanjali draws on traditional Indian knowledge to produce goods for the market."
Balkrishna points out that now Patanjali is a talking point at malls and showrooms in big cities as well as in kirana shops in small towns
"Whatever we have achieved is without making any compromise, by following a two-pronged strategy to give the right price to farmers and sell the goods at an affordable price to consumers," Balkrishna said.
Forbes said the combined net worth of India's 100 wealthiest is $381 billion (nearly Rs 25.5 lakh crore), a rise of 10% from $345 billion in 2015.
Patanjali has grown into a company with annual turnover over Rs 5,000 crore and is targeting a Rs 10,000- crore turnover for next year.
The Forbes list is topped by Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, for the ninth consecutive year
Balkrishna points out that now Patanjali is a talking point at malls and showrooms in big cities as well as in kirana shops in small towns.
Speaking of the growing demand of Patanjali, he says: "We are not able to provide enough supply. We have to increase our production this year."
But will there be a change in his lifestyle to complement his new-found fortune?
"No way," says Balkrishna. "I have been a yogi and a sadhu, who wears a pair of slippers and mostly travels by road… I will continue living that way."
So what next after feeding Indians? "We will feed the cows," he says.
At a time when gau-rakshaks are grabbing the headlines, is Patanjali walking a path to prove a political point?
"No," says Balkrishna. "We are working to improve the breeding of Indian cows to tap the dairy potential and for that we are now getting into cattle feed production in a big way."
Flipkart's co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal lost out of the list
India's potential in dairy is huge and such is the demand that it easily outstrips the supply, said Balkrishna, indicating that his company is ready to take on global dairy giants, http://iliriapublications.org/index.php/iir/comment/view/520/0/5445 rearing to enter the market.
Despite being a 97% shareholder in Patanjali and worth Rs 25,000 crore, he gives all the credit to Baba Ramdev.
"It is all his vision, he said. "I am only the executing officer."
Though Ramdev holds no share in the company, he is the de facto brand ambassador, while Balkrishna runs the operations, Forbes said.
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The other is mass cultivation of herbal products. Giving a glimpse of the swadeshi manufacturers eating into the profits of multi-national food and consumer giants in the country, the Patanjali hinted at an "all- out war against the foreign brands".
He says: "First Gandhiji did it in the freedom movement. Then we read this in gurukul classes that MNCs only benefit their own countries. The time has come to pack them off."
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