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Medical Blasphemy

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A video of Swami Ramdev detailing the ‘shortcomings’ of the allopathic system in dealing with the Covid-19 infection has seriously riled the medical community in India. So strong has the reaction been that the Union Health Minister thought it necessary to pull up the Baba for his remarks at this crucial stage in India’s fight against the pandemic. ‘Defamation’ cases have also been filed on the issue.

This is indeed strange. Why are allopathic doctors so concerned about the opinion of one person? Ramdev also enjoys the right to freedom of expression. If he is not correct, the flaws in his thinking should be pointed out. After all, Allopathy is a system of medicine based strictly on science. It has emerged, of course, from the ancient and traditional healing practices which include the Ayurveda and Unani systems. These roots should not just be acknowledged but also celebrated. For some reason, however, a rivalry has emerged between the two. The reason very likely has to do with control over a very lucrative market which has seen inroads in recent decades of preventive and holistic practices that are gaining popularity among the public. In India, Ramdev has been, of late, at the forefront of this movement but is certainly not the only one.

In fact, the attempt by the Government of India to resolve the differences by tapping into the best of both worlds has been stridently condemned as ‘mixopathy’. It is almost as if these are ‘belief’ systems instead of science and blasphemers and heretics need to be punished. Of course, there are pitfalls in proposing that Ayurvedic doctors be allowed to perform basic surgery, but it also implies introduction of a common curriculum for a medical degree. There is a lot still not known about healing and even Queen Elizabeth II, who rules over lands that have among the best scientists and doctors of the world, has been a fan of Homoeopathy all her life. Almost everybody has stories to tell of how the alternative systems have benefited them. The scientific spirit requires that, instead of condemning these practices, they are properly studied and the exact benefits and shortcomings identified. Yoga, which is still resisted in some parts for being a Hindu spiritual practice, has spread to all parts of the world because of the visible improvement it brings in people’s lives. It is, therefore, very strange that the medical fraternity of India should feel insecure about the wisdom emanating from its own ancient heritage.