Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved Ltd is all set to win a multi-crore contract to manage mid-day meals in Uttar Pradesh schools, reports quoting sources say.
Ramdev and his men have been actively lobbying for the Rs 700-crore contract in New Delhi, reaching out to influential cabinet ministers and making representations as to why the group is best placed to execute the project, according to a Firstpost report.
The contract is currently being managed by 10 entities, including some NGOs. It involves offering Panjiri (a mixture of sugar, ghee and wheat), fruits and milk to at little over 10 crore students in India’s most populous state.
Ramdev’s meteoric transformation from the guru of good health to a business magnate has surprised some of the top multinationals operating in India. His business empire has been rapidly expanding. Only in July, the company had won an exclusive, mega contract to develop Ayurvedic plants in Uttarakhand and fix their prices.
Patanjali Ayurved is now considered the fastest-growing consumer product company in India. However, there have been controversies too. It has to be remembered that the group has more than once got into trouble with the Advertising Standards Council of India for misleading advertisements.
In April, The Economic Times reported that canteen stores department of the Indian forces stopped selling Patanjali’s amla juice after it found out that the product was “unfit for consumption”. Further, earlier this month, a local TV channel reported that Patanjali distributed expired products to flood victims in Majuli, Assam.
Seen in this context, if the group wins the Uttar Pradesh mid-day meal contract, it will be celebrated as a major victory by the company. The contract will make Patanjali the sole distributor of high-protein food for the state schools. The sources confirmed officials of Haridwar-based Patanjali Ayurved were also lobbying with senior bureaucrats and ministers of the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in the state for the contract. The deadline for submission of tenders for the contract was extended to mid-October recently.
SK Tijarawala, spokesman for Patanjali Ayurved and Patanjali Yogpeeth, said the group aims to serve healthy food across India, and its venturing into the mid-day meal project is purely a business decision. “We have always propagated the importance of consuming healthy food at schools,” said Tijarawala.