After backlash and lawsuits, India’s infamous yoga guru turned businessman Baba Ramdev on Friday said he is ready to take the COVID-19 vaccine, days after he tarnished modern medical practice and mocked Indian doctors who lost their lives fighting COVID-19.
But Indian doctors refuse to back off from their demand to arrest Ramdev, a strong supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for claiming ‘allopathic medicines’ are responsible for killing thousands of coronavirus patients.
“In a country where the resources are already so limited, comments like these will not only spread distrust and misinformation and the chances of violence against doctors will also increase”, Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti, national president of Progressive Medicos & Scientists Forum(PMSF), told Maktoob.
On May 29, thousands of resident doctors across India wore black armbands protesting to arrest Ramdev. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) filed a police complaint and sent a 1000 crore defamation notice to Baba Ramdev for calling conventional medicine a ‘stupid science’.
Baba Creates Fuss With Comments
The 55-year-old saffron-robed Baba said, “more than 10,000 doctors have died despite getting both doses of coronavirus vaccines.” Several videos of Ramdev’s addresses have gone viral on Twitter in which he can be seen mocking the conventional medicines. In one of the videos, he is seen ridiculing the efficacy of covid19 vaccines.
“If you want to become a doctor be like Baba Ramdev, a doctor with no degree but of divinity and dignity. What kind of doctors were they who cannot even save themselves,” he says while his audience laughs.
This isn’t the first time that Ramdev has made such controversial remarks. He claimed that modern medicines are ‘stupid and failed science’ and alleged that the drugs like Remdesevir had failed in treating covid infections.
The doctors at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) called out the statements of yoga guru insensitive and unethical.
The IMA later clarified that the country lost 753 doctors during the first wave of the pandemic when the vaccine were not available and 513 died during the second wave, “ no doctors could receive the vaccine in the first wave and majority of the doctors died in the second wave couldn’t take their vaccines for various reasons.”
Ramdev retracted his comments after a request made by health minister and the guru responded by saying he was merely reading out the people’s Whatsapp messages.
Speaking to Maktoob, Dr Faraz Adil, a Resident Medical Officer said, “Government should take strict action against Ramdev because doctors are risking their lives and these comments are not only insulting but they also break the willpower of the whole medical fraternity.”
Ramdev created a further outcry by claiming he does not need vaccination as he is protected by Ayurveda and Yoga, “I have been practising yoga and ayurveda for decades now and did not feel the need to get vaccinated. Ayurveda will be accepted by everyone in the coming time.”
The Coronil Controversy
On February 19, at an event at New Delhi’s Constitution Club, the FMCG Company Patanjali Ayurved owned by Baba Ramdev, announced the publication of clinical trial results and launched a new indigenous product for the treatment of covid19 infections. Sharing the podium with the company’s two founders were two members of the Union Cabinet, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.
According to the company’s two founders, Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna, the treatment was the ‘first evidence based’ medicine for coronavirus named Coronil. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan endorsed the pill and glorified Patanjali Ayurved’s research as establishing the role of Ayurveda in a comprehensive system of modern medicine.
Ramdev’s claim that Coronil had been approved by WHO was found to be false when WHO’s Southeast regional office denied on Twitter that it had granted no such approval.
According to New York Times, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ramdev share a close relationship where yoga guru directs his ‘Bhakts’ (followers) to vote for Modi’s political party and the Modi government reciprocates by pursuing policies that are beneficial for Patanjali Ayurved.
“This is nothing but an illusion; propaganda is created by fooling the citizens and taking the advantage of the pandemic. This system has always existed for the elites and when it comes to supporting the second class citizens, medicines like Coronil are endorsed to give them a false sense of protection”, said Dr Harjit Bhatti.
A follower of Ramdev Baba, Anil Sabharwal told Al Jazeera, “I don’t sell Patanjali products just for business. This is a matter of faith. Guru Ramdev shows us the way.”
Baba Ramdev’s company, Patanjali Ayurved is a multinational consumer packaged goods company based in Haridwar. The company sells everything from toothpaste to clothes, has its own TV channel and is worth $1.2 billion, ranking 13th in India’s most trusted brands 2020. He claimed that his company can treat cancer and can even cure homosexuality and AIDS.
India has a Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (Ayush) to promote traditional systems.