Will Storr, The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science (New York: The Overlook Press, 2015), 38-9.
[Storr is granted a ten-minute audience with Swami Ramdev, who is in London for a series of lectures on yoga.]
I move on to the reports that I have read in the Indian press of Ramdev telling children that Coca-Cola will turn their skin dark, a powerful message for vanity-conscious youngsters to whom pale complexions are desirable – and a statement that is unarguably wrong. I am curious to see if Ramdev will admit to saying this as, presumably, he is smart enough to realise that I know it to be untrue.
‘Did you once claim Coca-Cola darkens the skin?’ I say.
His eyes slide sideways, towards Shipra [his translator].
‘Even in the USA, the government has banned it in schools,’ he says.
‘But did you claim it darkens the skin?’
‘There has been scientific research that says it can be harmful to health.’
I put down my pen.
‘But did you say it darkens the skin? I just want to establish, for the record, if you’ve ever claimed this.’
He looks toward Shipra once more. I watch as a hot conference takes place between them in Hindi. Eventually, she tells me, ‘Swamiji just says that to the kids. It’s not necessarily true.’