South Asia

India yoga guru Baba Ramdev vows anti-graft fast

Baba Ramdev on stage
Image caption Baba Ramdev is India's most popular yoga guru

Indian guru Baba Ramdev has decided to press ahead with a hunger strike on Saturday to protest against corruption, after talks with the government failed.

The yoga guru says his fast is to protest against the illegal funnelling of wealth abroad by Indians for tax avoidance.

Baba Ramdev called on his many followers to join the fast.

The move follows April's hunger strike by activist Anna Hazare demanding tough anti-corruption laws.

Anna Hazare ended a 96-hour hunger strike, known as the "fast unto death", after the government agreed to all of his demands and forced the government to change the way its new anti-corruption law was being drawn up.

Baba Ramdev was one of the high-profile supporters of the April protest.

Now the guru, who runs a huge yoga and health empire, says he will begin his own "fast unto death" as part of his campaign to bring back the illicit money - or "black money" as it is called in India - allegedly deposited in banks abroad.

"India's money stashed abroad should be declared the wealth of the nation. And the act of stashing away illegally-got money in foreign banks should be declared a crime against the state," Baba Ramdev told Tehelka magazine in a recent interview.

"The nation's wealth stashed in foreign banks should be brought back by India which should sign on to the UN convention against corruption."

The US-based group Global Financial Integrity has said that India has lost more than $460bn through the illegal flight of capital since Independence.

Almost three quarters of the illegal money that comprises India's underground economy ends up outside the country, it said in a report last year.

Authorities say the government is taking measures to bring back the illegal money, but there are difficulties owing to confidentiality treaties between countries.

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