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Amidst Covid pandemic in 2020, IMA had endorsed a wall paint that claimed to kill 99% bacteria

Last year, the Indian Medical Association had faced criticism for endorsing a wall paint company that boasted to kill germs and improve immunity.

Baba Ramdev kicked up a hornet’s nest after his video criticizing the allopathy doctors and medicines went viral on social media websites. The remarks elicited a stern rebuke from the Indian Medical Association, which in turn led the Patanjali Ayurved founder to fire a set of 25 questions for the IMA to answer where he highlighted the shortcomings of allopathy way of treatment to provide permanent solutions for seemingly common diseases.

Amidst the ongoing war of words between the IMA and Ramdev Baba and questions being raised by the IMA doctors about Patanjali Ayurved’s Coronil, it is pertinent to note that the organization had in the past found itself in the soup for endorsing a wall paint, which claimed of killing “99% bacteria” on walls, reducing pollution and protecting immunity.

Last year, an advertisement by a wall paint company prominently highlighted that it was approved by the Indian Medical Association for providing protection from “viral transmissions” and reduce the number of harmful gases such as sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxide.

The advertisement went on to assert that the product would serve as a sanitiser for the house. Soon after it was aired on national television, many public health experts laid into the IMA for approving the product when the world was battling the menace of the coronavirus outbreak.

Many had then accused the IMA of sending conflicting messages amidst the pandemic. While it was talking about physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquettes, critics slammed the organisation for allowing brands to use its name and spread misinformation among the public.

An Asian Paints ad boasting it is ‘recommended by IMA’, image via beastoftraal.com

However, IMA Secretary RV Asokan defend the organization’s decision to endorse the wall paint brand, stating that it was done through a legal process in 2019. The IMA had certified the product as having anti-bacterial qualities and not anti-viral properties. Asokan had said that the organization had not issued the endorsement during the pandemic. The company, he said, had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the association and had every legal right to advertise its product with the endorsement for three years.

Back in 2019, an Asian Paints ad, featuring Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone endorsing the wall paints brand and announcing that it was ‘recommended’ by the IMA was pulled up by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).

The IMA is not a government body. It is a voluntary organisation of doctors who practice allopathy. For a certain amount of fees, a brand can ‘buy’ their endorsement, that is, they can announce in their ads that they are ‘recommended by IMA’ just like Asian Paints did.

Other such brands that have featured this IMA ‘recommendation’ in the past are Eureka Forbes water purifiers, Kent water purifiers, Dettol, and Odomos, etc.

The Asian Paints ad

IMA writes to Uttarakhand CM asking for action against Ramdev Baba

The controversy erupted after a video went viral on social media in which Baba Ramdev could be heard saying that allopathy is a hollow practice and that many people have lost their lives due to allopathic medicines.

To this, the Indian Medical Association took strong objection and even threatened to move Court if the Union Health Ministry does not take cognizance of the remarks made by Ramdev. As his comments sparked a furore, Baba Ramdev apologised for his remarks on allopathy medicines.

However, the controversy continued unabated. On May 24, Ramdev launched another attack on the Indian Medical Association firing 25 pointed questions at them. With these questions, Ramdev has tried to highlight the shortcomings of allopathy with him asking for permanent solutions to some of the most common diseases.

Smarting from Baba Ramdev’s comments on allopathy, the association then wrote a letter to Uttarakhand CM, asking for action against the Yogic guru. It is imperative to note that Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth, the largest yoga institution of India is located in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. A large part of Patanjali’s manufacturing units is also located in Uttarakhand.

The letter addressed to the CM suggests that Baba Ramdev’s derogatory remarks have ‘demoralized’ and ‘angered’ the medical fraternity. As a corrective and damage control measure, IMA has urged the state government to take ‘prompt and strict action’ against Baba Ramdev. 

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