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Baba Ramdev crossed red line with false claims of curing Covid, calling modern medicine ‘stupid’: IMA president

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NEW DELHI, April 29: Baba Ramdev crossed a red line when he claimed he could cure COVID-19 and at the same time maligned modern medicine by calling it a “stupid and bankrupt science”, Indian Medical Association president Dr R V Asokan said on Monday.

This is IMA’s first comment since the Supreme Court’s tongue lashing to Ramdev and his multibillion-dollar consumer goods empire Patanjali Ayurved last month over misleading ads. It comes a day before the top court is scheduled to hear the matter next.

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The apex court is hearing IMA’s 2022 plea alleging a smear campaign against the Covid vaccination drive and modern systems of medicine. The court had asked Ramdev, his aide Acharya Balakrishnan and Patanjali Ayurved Ltd  last month to issue a public apology for not following its orders on misleading ads.

In an interaction with PTI editors, Asokan also said it was “unfortunate” that the Supreme Court criticised IMA and also the practices of private doctors. The “vague and generalised statements”, he added, have demoralised private doctors.

“We sincerely believe they need to look at what was the material before them. They perhaps did not consider that this was not the issue that was before them in the court.”

“You can say anything but still a majority of doctors are conscientious… practicing according to ethics and principles. It does not behove the Supreme Court to take a broadside against the medical profession of the country which after all sacrificed so many lives for the Covid war,” he added.

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Asokan was replying to a query about the Supreme Court’s observations in its hearing on April 23 that when it was pointing one finger at Patanjali, the remaining four fingers were pointed towards IMA.

During the same hearing, the top court questioned Patanjali’s public apology and asked whether it was the same size as that of the advertisements published by the company for its products. The matter related to the apology published by Ramdev and his associate Acharya Balkrishna will be considered on April 30.

Asokan said Ramdev went against the medical profession by saying “modern medicine is a stupid and bankrupt science”.

“He went against the national interest when the government was driving the vaccination programme. He said 20,000 doctors died after taking two doses of the Covid vaccine. And he was having such a high profile that you know people believed what he said. That was the unfortunate part of it,” he said.

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Asked what made IMA take on Ramdev despite him being a big name and politically connected, Asokan said, “He crossed a red line. We have been tolerating mediocracy in this country for too long. Our profession also has been tolerating this and we never wanted to prove anything to anyone. He crossed a line when he advertised about Coronil (a Patanjali tablet) and said WHO has approved it which was a wrong statement.”

“Our leadership thought he has to be challenged. It was in 2022 and we had to channelise it through the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act. What has happened in the Supreme Court is two-three years of hard work,” he said.

He said IMA has a strong leadership that thinks about the medical profession and steps that the association should take. The decision, he added, was taken at an internal meeting headed by senior member Dr Ketan Desai and attended by past presidents and current officials of that time.

“I was a past secretary general at that time. The secretary general at that time was Dr Jayesh Lele. So it was a common decision. We are a team and we see what is good for the profession. We also take a perspective which is good for the nation unlike any doctors association.

“The history of IMA is that we are born out of the Indian freedom struggle. We are part of pre-independence Congress movement. Today also our conferences are held on the same date, December 27, which used to be the Congress date,” he said.

Asked whether there was any internal or external pressure, he said, “There was no pressure from any side. But there was a huge backlash and abuse from social media in general because they did not understand what was happening…”

Asokan said IMA is not against traditional systems of medicine.

“We have lived with all these decades. We respect each other. But somehow some sections of the society thought we are anti traditional systems and, as for the public apology, it was to the Supreme Court. And it’s more about the contempt of the court than the substance of the thing.”

“I think the court has not said its final verdict. We need to wait.  Whether we are satisfied or not will depend on the verdict. It’s not about the apology that he has given, it is for the court to tell us whether he crossed the line by abusing modern medicine,” he stated.

According to Asokan, IMA is constantly briefing its members on the ethics and principles and the way to change.

“Ethics after all changes with time and space. Today what you perceive as right may not be right after 10 years. So this is a constant process and we keep on doing that,” he said.

IMA was established in 1928 as the All India Medical Association, and was renamed the Indian Medical Association in 1930. It has  around 3,85,,000 member doctors in 1,800  local branches in 29 states and UTs. (PTI)

 

 

 

 

 

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