A huge controversy erupted recently when Baba Ramdev’s video declaring allopathy as a hollow practice exploitating people went viral. The Indian Medical Association jumped into the frey, taking a strong objection to his remarks and threatening to move court if the Union Health Ministry does not take cognizance of the remarks made by Ramdev.
The Health Ministry promptly expressed its disapproval over Ramdev’s remarks, issuing a letter to the Yoga Guru to retract his statements. Ramdev complied with the request made to him by the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and withdrew his statements against allopathic medicines.
However, the war of the words between the Indian Medical Association and Baba Ramdev did not seem to abate. In fact, it only became shriller and more intensified. Functionaries of the Indian Medical Association, most notably the former IMA chief Dr Rajan Sharma and IMA secretary Dr Jayesh Lele, hauled Baba Ramdev over the coals in a TV debate after the Yog Guru shot 25 questions at them, highlighting the shortcomings of allopathy and asking them for permanent solutions to some of the most common diseases.
In the debate, Baba Ramdev was seen striking a conciliatory tone with his opponents, asking them to acknowledge the salutary effects of the Ayurvedic method of treatment, just like he recognised the contribution of the allopathic system in life-saving situations, grave surgeries and serious ailments. However, he was subjected to contempt and disdain by Dr Lele as he lost his cool over the Yog Guru. Dr Jayesh Lele’s angry outburst was celebrated by the left-leaning liberals, who hailed him for hitting out at Baba Ramdev and trashing his Ayurvedic system of treatment.
As the IMA received support from the liberal quarters, it continued with its intimidation tactics to bully Baba Ramdev into submission. The IMA then sent a Rs 1000 crore defamation suit to Baba Ramdev, asking him to withdraw his statements against the allopathic medicines. Baba Ramdev retorted back by sharing a video clip from Aamir Khan’s show ‘Satyameva Jayate’, where a guest named Dr Samit Sharma was seen explaining the huge price difference between generic and branded medicines. Posting the video clip on micro-blogging site Twitter, Ramdev dared ‘medical mafias’ to sue the actor if they can.
इन मेडिकल माफियाओं में हिम्म्त है तो आमिर खान के खिलाफ मोर्चा खोलें-— स्वामी रामदेव (@yogrishiramdev) May 29, 2021
वीडियो साभार-स्टार प्लस pic.twitter.com/ZpNT8CSohD
Tussle between IMA and Baba Ramdev spawns allopathy vs Ayurveda debate
The confrontation between Baba Ramdev and the IMA has inevitably sparked a debate between which is the better way of treatment—Ayurveda or allopathy. Several people have jumped into the debate, either in support of the Ayurveda and against the allopathic way of treatment or vice versa. The conversation surrounding the medical treatment has polarised to such an extent that it has turned seemingly binary—either you are with Ayurveda or allopathy—there is no room for people who possibly think either of the methods is beneficial in their own right.
The conflict between allopathy and Ayurveda is centuries old. It is widely believed that the use of modern medicine started in India in the 16th century. During that time and before that, there were hardly qualified doctors and patients were treated by millennia-old Ayurvedic methods. Ever since the advent of modern medicines, there is an enduring debate over which is the more effective way of treatment.
Ayurveda, one of the oldest methods of treatment, is made up of two words from the Sanskrit language Ayur and Veda. Ayur means life and Veda means science. That is, Ayurveda means the science of life. allopathy is said to have its roots in Greece about 2400 years ago.
While the Allopathic way of treatment has made tremendous leaps and bounds in terms of progress, especially in the 19th and the 20th century, the Ayurvedic treatment also made significant advances, providing cures for seemingly pervasive and common diseases that Allopathy has so far failed in finding permanent solutions to. The Ayurvedic system has proven to be effective, and there are cases abound where the patients have been cured of their chronic diseases through Ayurvedic treatment.
The recent tussle between Baba Ramdev and the IMA has reignited this centuries-old debate between the two methods of treatments. Allopathy is opposed by the Ayurvedic faction mainly because of the side effects the doses of medicines have caused among patients. While the Allopathy faction has rejected the Ayurveda method of treatment, calling it quackery and accusing it of lacking scientific evidence.
Baba Ramdev, for his part, has been critical against allopathic treatment and medicines, partly because of the allopathic doctors’ arrogant disregard of the Ayurvedic method of treatment. His comments against allopathy, which spawned the debate in the first place, were uncalled for and unwarranted. While he has been placatory since then and has acknowledged the advantages of modern medicines, the continuing criticism of allopathic treatment does not bode well for the morale of the doctors who are involved in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ayurveda and allopathy both can coexist, without having to discredit the other
It is a fact that allopathic way of treatment has contributed significantly to cure diseases and save ailing lives. A host of vaccines, surgeries, and treatment methods developed to ward off a multitude of maladies is a testament to modern medicine’s success. Even in the current pandemic, the doctors are doing their best to help people fight and recover from COVID-19, a respiratory illness that has proven to be highly infectious and staggeringly lethal.
The IMA and the allopathic doctors, on the other hand, are unnecessarily prolonging the debate, continuing to attack Baba Ramdev even though he has already retracted his comments on the allopathic medicines and doctors. Perhaps, the IMA sees the controversy as leverage to save its head Dr John Austin Jayalal, who is mired in a case for talking about converting COVID-19 patients to Christianity.
The vilification of Ayurveda and Yoga as quackery is unjustified, given that for centuries these methods were used by our ancestors to treat the diseased and help people lead a long life. In fact, the same Ayurveda and Yoga, which are scorned by the allopathic doctors in India, are now gaining traction in western countries. While in India, Ayurveda is subjected to ridicule, the western pharmaceutical giants are making a beeline to patent its methods and medicines for treating patients.
As India grapples with the resurgent coronavirus outbreak, both the Ayurveda and Allopathy practitioners and supporters need to realise that both treatments can coexist simultaneously, without the need to discredit the other. Both Ayurveda and Allopathy have unique characteristics that distinguish one from the other. It, however, does not mean that there should be a debate over the supremacy of one treatment over the other. Each of them has proven beneficial in treating patients, and therefore they both deserve to exist in their own right.
The coronavirus outbreak has proven to be an intractable contagion, even for the allopathic way of treatment that prides itself on being successful in fighting modern diseases. In such difficult times, India should use all its resources and expertise to stave off the threat emanating from the ferocious second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, instead of sparring over which is the more effective method of treatment amongst the two.
The coronavirus outbreak will not be the first time that India would fend off a contagion. For centuries, the Ayurvedic method of treatment had helped the country sail through the devastating bouts of plagues, flu outbreak and other severe diseases. At a time when the allopathic doctors are overburdened with COVID-19, a smidgen of humility towards Ayurvedic treatment would do them good and help the country combat the pandemic more effectively.