HT Editorial: Not Ayurveda vs allopathy
Baba Ramdev (born Ram Kisan Yadav) is, based on the camps and TV shows that made him a national figure, an excellent proponent of yoga, the ancient Indian exercise that is as good for the body as it is for the mind. He is, based on the success of his company Patanjali, a smart businessman whose understanding of his own brand equity and the failsafe concept of value-for-money, is unique. He is also a political figure — he was a key cog in the movement that resulted in the birth of the Aam Aadmi Party. And because of his following and his ideology, there is a certain natural alignment between him and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Perhaps confident of this association with the regime in power — nothing else can explain the timorous letter the Union health minister wrote to the baba, reproaching him for his recent comments — Mr Yadav has chosen to take on allopathy, even vaccines. But it would be a mistake to see this as a debate between Ayurveda and allopathy. No stranger to miracle cures — he has, at various times, promised cures for cancer and AIDS and even suggested that homosexuality is a disease that can be cured — the baba has his own interests to push. After all, he did try and pass of one of his company’s products, Coronil, as a cure for Covid before being forced to not label it as such.
Both Ayurveda and allopathy have their place, and both need to meet the bar of evidence-based science (something Coronil doesn’t, for instance). It is worrying to think that the yoga guru’s followers may follow his advice and recklessly shun allopathy or vaccines (or both) in the midst of a pandemic — but it is for the State to act on such reckless and dangerous advice. If it wants to.
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