Which Ayurvedic college did Ramdev go to? IMA and politicians also responsible for his rise

A WHO report had put the number of quacks in India at 57% of all medical professionals. IMA itself puts the number at a million or more. But neither IMA nor politicians objected to the rise of Ramdev

Baba Ramdev (File photo: Chirag Wakaskar/Getty Images)
Baba Ramdev (File photo: Chirag Wakaskar/Getty Images)

Faraz Ahmad

Even as the Indian Medical Association (IMA), upset with the saffron clad Ram Kisan Yadav nee Ramdev for insulting doctors and dismissing allopathy as stupid and worthless, has sought the arrest of Ramdev, he has contemptuously dismissed it with his typical obnoxious laughter saying “Arrest to unka baap bhi nahin kar sakta, Swami Ramdev ko', further infuriating the medical community.

There is reason for Ramdev's arrogance and supreme confidence. The entire BJP/RSS establishment stand solidly behind Ramdev, providing him the required strength to mock doctors and modern science.

On May 17 the Government of India launched a new product of Patanjali called 2-DG (2-deoxy-D-Glucose) as an “Emergency” cure for Covid which they claim would “reduce recovery time and oxygen dependency.” Earlier Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, himself an allopathic doctor with a MBBS degree, sat with Ramdev to launch his Coronil tablet, claiming not just that it was a panacea against Corona but that it had been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). WHO wasted no time in refuting this claim.

But undeterred by this rebuff, Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij announced soon after that Haryana was buying 1 lakh Coronil kits to distribute free to Covid patients. This coming from a minister who incidentally volunteered first for the vaccine and when he got infected by corona, instead of taking Ramdev’s Coronil kit, rushed from Ambala to the 'Allopaths' at new Post Graduate Institute of Medical Science (PGIMS), Rohtak and within two days dissatisfied with his own hospital, rushed to another set of Allopaths at the private, five star Medanta hospital in Gurgaon.

Ramdev knows that the entire BJP running the government both at the Centre and in so many states will not just protect but promote him and his products and why not? From the time Modi’s candidature was decided by the BJP and the Sangh went full throttle against the UPA government of Manmohan Singh, and launched their India Against Corruption (IAC) with Anna Hazare in the forefront, Ramdev also jumped into the fray in support of Modi and campaigned for Modi in the run up to the 2014 general elections on India TV of Rajat Sharma declared “Sarkar to Hum banayenge. (We will form the Government)” making no bones that the Modi government would be his government. And so it did. Thus, he has all the reason reason to dismiss the threat of defamation and arrest extended by his detractors.

Doctors are also to be blamed for the creation of this Frankenstein. Ram Kisan Yadav or Swami Ramdev as he now likes calling himself, despite building a billion dollar empire under brand Patanjali in collaboration with another of his ilk Balakrishna of Nepali nationality, patronised by Modi government, made no effort to pin down this guy when he was growing. No one for instance asked Ram Kisan Yadav where he studied his medicine to make drugs and market these.

Apart from allopathy there are other recognised streams of medicine including Ayurveda with regular colleges which prepares Vaids, Unani with Tibbiya Colleges preparing Hakims, Then there is the Sidha stream of medicine whch has their institute in Chennai. Has Ram Kisan Yadav studied any of these brands of medicine at any of these colleges? Is he really qualified to prepare and market drugs for various ailments? If not then naturally he comes in the category of a quack. Quackery is a punishable offence.

Parliament passed in 2010 ‘The Clinical Establishment Act, 2010 to put an end to quackery. But the former Health Secretary of India Shailja Chandra in her remarkable research report titled “Unqualified Medical Practitioners in India: The Legal, Medical and Social Dimension of Their Practice” that the Act made little difference to the existence and growth of quacks. She stated that a WHO report published in 2016 put the figure of UMPs or quacks at 57.3% of India’s total population of medical practitioners. A quack by its definition is a person not qualified to practice. In India, the report said, quoting Lucky Kumar, coordinator of the Delhi Medical Council’s (DMC’s) anti-quackery cell that quacks are predominantly purveyors of Ayurvedic or Homeopathic remedies.

According to the Indian Medical Association (IMA) there are more than 10 lakh such quacks in India, The Clinical Establishment’s Act 2010 –enacted in 2012- aimed at the elimination of quackery, the Shailja report stated, adding however that the law has made little headway in terms of implementation.

Vaids or Hakims or Homeopaths who put in years of study in their respective streams of medicine at proper Ayurveda or Tibbiya colleges, may disagree with allopathy and are entitled to believe their science to be better or superior. We may disagree with them but can’t take it amiss. But then which Ayurveda college or Siddha institute has Ramdev studied in?

Shailja too underlined she was not denigrating or belittling qualified Vaids or Hakims. They are enrolled on the medical register maintained by the Central Council of Indian Medicine set up under the Indian Medicine Central Council Act 1970. The Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery (BAMS) course of five and a half years duration.

The Indian Medical Council Act 1956 (Referred to as MCI Act 1956) lays down in Section 27 that any person who falsely assumes that he is a medical practitioner or practitioner as defined in Clause (7) of Section 2 shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend up to three years or with fine which may extend to Rs 20,000 or with both.

The various sections of the IMC Act, 1956 made unlicensed medical practice an offence punishable for cheating and impersonation and forgery or misrepresentation.

There is a Bhartiya Chikitsa Parishad (BCP and its branch in Delhi known as DBCP: The Secretary of the Parishad stated before this report researchers that they take action against the practitioners of the Indian systems of medicine without possessing the qualifications specified in the Act. Doesn’t Ramdev come under the same category? But no one took notice of his activities, leave alone an action.

In April 2005, Ramdev’s Divya Yog manufacturing plant in Haridwar came under the scrutiny of CPM Politburo member Brinda Karat when Ramdev dismissed from service 115 workers. Since the CPM trade union CITU had a unit there, she visited the site to show solidarity with the workers in May 2005. The agitating workers also alleged that Ramdev’s plant was using human skull and animal parts to prepare his various ‘medicinal’ concoctions.

The workers had obtained samples of the two preparations from the yoga trust's hospital, Brahmakalp Chikitsalay, in Haridwar, along with payment receipts. Then in July 2005, with Brinda’s support they started writing to various state officials claiming that crushed human skulls were being used in a preparation (Kuliya Bhasm) intended for epilepsy and testicles of the Indian otter was being used in a preparation (Yauvanamrit Bati) to treat impotence in men. They handed over these samples to Uttarakhand Principal Secretary (Health), Sujit Das, who forwarded these to the central government agencies saying that the state had no testing facility.

The Union Health Ministry passed the samples to Departments of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). AYUSH found evidence of human and animal DNA in the samples. The final report said that Ayurveda allowed usage to those materials, but the pharmacy was in violation of licensing and labelling laws under Indian Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

On 3 January 2006, Brinda Karat, backed by a letter from Shiv Basant, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry, accused Ramdev of adulteration and labelling violations. Ramdev immediately held a press conference denying the charge and instead accused Brinda of siding with drug MNCs to defame his firm. On 5 January, supporters of Ramdev attempted storming the CPI(M) headquarters A K Gopalan Bhawan, while the then Health Minister, himself a MBBS, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, confirmed existence of human parts in the sample submitted by Brinda.

Immediately UPA leaders then Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh Yadav, and Sharad Yadav sprang to Ramdev’s support making common cause with Sangh/BJP leaders like Ram Madhav, Prakash Javdekar and Subhas Chakraborty. While the support of Sangh/BJP leaders made sense because to date Ramdev has been a vocal supporter of RSS/BJP, the Yadav leaders of UPA might have seen a fellow Yadav in Ram Kisan. Also an Uttarakhand Minister Dhirendra Pratap attacked Brinda and sought an play an apology for denigrating Indian system of medicine.

Uttarakhand then had a Congress government led by Narain Dutt Tiwari who finally landed in the BJP. Poor Brinda clarified that she was not against Yoga or Ayurveda as was made out by Ramdev bhakts. Later in 2013, Brinda told the Frontline magazine in an interview that the investigations were deliberately botched up because of Ramdev's proximity to the then Uttarakhand Chief Minister.

The crux of the matter is that when this quack mocks the IMA, he is confident that no one dare trifle with him, for he enjoys unqualified support of this government.

( The writer is a senior journalist and commentator. Views are personal)

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