Patanjali is not the only one in promoting unscientific health system

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By Dr Arun Mitra

That the government of Uttarakhand is dilly dallying action against Patanjali, despite Supreme Court’s order is a matter of concern but is not astonishing. The State Bank of India’s refusal to comply with Supreme Court order to submit details of electoral bonds by 6th March is a reflection of persistent efforts to undermine the authority of the judiciary.  It would be naïve to believe that these institutions are defying the Apex Court’s order on their own. Officials at that level would not dare do that without the patronage from the higher-ups at the helms of affairs in the Government of India.

Patanjali has been issuing misleading statements for long and claiming remedies to various diseases without any evidence. Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 states that “no person shall take any part in the publication of any advertisement referring to any drug in terms which suggest or are calculated to lead to the use of that drug for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any diseases, disorder or condition.”

The apex court has given order against Patanjali for its misleading ads. The Apex court in its order remarked that Patanjali’s ads present its products to people as a ‘permanent relief’, which is “misleading” and “a violation of the law”. The court referred  to provisions of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 (DMR&OA) and its Rules.

Ramdev’s connections with higher-ups in the government are well known. When he highlighted the role of Coronil, a drug produced by his company, for the treatment of COVID-19, it was none other than the Health Minister of India Dr Harsh Vardhan, an ENT Surgeon trained in the modern medicine, who approved of Coronil and addressed a Press conference along with Ramdev even though there was no scientific evidence to prove the efficacy of Coronil.

But that gave strength to the Patanjali group to issue more misleading statements about their products. He has come up with magical remedies for several diseases and has openly ridiculed the modern scientific medicine. He even blamed the use of oxygen as a cause of death of the patients during COVID.

 ‘Yog’ has been our ancient method of promoting good health, but to say that it is a remedy for various diseases including mental health issues is not correct. Mental diseases are a serious health hazard which needs to be treated with great precision by the experts. With rise in depression and suicidal tendencies it is all the more important to promote advanced methods of treatment for such disorders. Promotion of methods such as yoga will create further confusion and denial of timely scientific care for the needy.

The modern medicine tells us about innumerable resources regarding suicidal risk, its identification and management, including emergency care. There is enough evidence regarding the effectiveness of dialectical behavioural therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy in preventing suicides. It is in fact dangerous to promote yoga and such methods for anyone with suicidal ideation, and deny the evidence based critical interventions required for such people..

Despite several advances in the medical science and information mechanism, there are several myths and unscientific practices about diseases and their cure even among the literates in our country.

It is saddening that the government is not only apathetic towards irrational ideas on health on the contrary is subtly promoting them. Use of Cow urine, Astrology in the hospitals, the ‘Garbh Vigyan Sanskar’ by Arogya Bharti advising couples to recite Shlokas so as to have customized  babies of their choice – the Uttam Santati are few examples. Even some ministers have been seen to attend the conference of ‘Tantriks’ and felicitate them in Gujarat. Such acts lead to misconceptions in the minds of people and spread pseudo-science.

Let us not forget that during the last few years in the name of promoting traditional methods of treatment some absurd ideas have been promoted. Pragya Thakur, BJP Member Parliament from Bhopal said in the interview that she got cured of breast cancer by cow urine. Cow urine and cow dung have been mentioned as the treatment of not only COVID but several other diseases. The cow dung is also being said to prevent from the effect of nuclear radiations on human body. One gram of dried cow dung is claimed to counter 109 Hz Giga radiations.

Not only that, a special research project was launched at the IIT to go into the benefits of Panchgavya which is a mixture of cow milk, urine, dung, ghee and curd. This does not need any explanation that anything that has been excreted by the body is a waste product and therefore cannot be useful to our body.

 In 2014 while addressing a gathering of the doctors in Mumbai the Prime Minister had said that science in India in the ancient times was so much advanced that we could transplant head of an elephant on the human body. That Karan was born from the ear suggesting that genetic science in our ancient past was highly developed. That Kauravs were born from stem cell research. This was said by the Vice chancellor of Andhra Pradesh University Dr Nageshwar Rao at the Indian Science Congress held in Jalandhar in 2019. 

Therefore when it comes to Patanjli it is required that a list of others spreading or patronising absurd ideas and spreading pseudo-science should be prepared and they be taken to task. It is the duty of medical professionals and scientists along with rationally thinking people to counter such pseudo-science to save the country from being pushed to medieval times. Health care cannot be left to belief system.

Dr Arun Mitra is a Practicing ENT Surgeon in Ludhiana, Punjab. He is also the President of Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) www.idpd.org 

(Previously published on Countercurrents)

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I write because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, said George Orwell. As a writer, I never kowtow to the whims and dictates of the sacred godmen or godwomen, the political bigots and hypocrites, dealers of laymen, the dishonest and self-serving intellectuals, traders of religions, the betrayers of ‘other’ Indians who eke out a living by their sweat, who are living in fear for being lynched for this and that.

Articles: 106