Patanjali founder Ramdev on Sunday withdrew his comment claiming allopathy was a “stupid science”, hours after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan wrote to him in this regard.
In a letter addressed to Vardhan, Ramdev said that he was not against modern medicine and allopathy, and reiterated his clarification that he was actually reading out a WhatsApp message when he made the comment.
“If someone points out flaws in a branch of treatment, it should not be seen as an attack, and definitely not as opposition to science,” Ramdev said in his letter. “One should always introspect. Similarly, allopathic doctors should also refrain from referring to Ayurveda and yoga as ‘pseudo-science’, as even that hurts the sentiments of many.”
A controversy sparked off after in a video that went viral on social media on Saturday, Ramdev claimed that medicines such as remdesivir and favipiravir approved by the Drugs Controller General of India for coronavirus treatment had failed. “Lakhs of patients have died because of allopathic medicines rather than a shortage of oxygen,” he claimed.
After the comments were widely criticised, Ramdev’s organisation, the Patanjali Yogpeeth, said that his comment was taken “totally out of context”.
Balkrishna, the general secretary of the Patanjali Yogpeeth, said that the video in which Ramdev can be heard making the statement was truncated, and that the yoga guru has no ill-will towards modern science and its practitioners.
“It is necessary to mention that the event was a private event and Swami jee [Ramdev] was reading out a forwarded WhatsApp message received by him and various other members who were participating in the event,” his statement claimed.
It said that Ramdev had “utmost regards” for all doctors and supporting staff who have been working day and night during the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association on Saturday demanded that the Centre take action against Ramdev for his comments under the Epidemic Disease Act.
Then on Sunday, Vardhan tweeted a letter he had sent to Ramdev asking the yoga guru to withdraw his comment.
“Doctors and health workers working on a war-footing for the country are god-like,” Vardhan wrote in a tweet. “Ramdev has hurt the sentiments of the country by insulting the Corona warriors. I have written to him asking to withdraw his comment.”
In his letter, the Union health minister said it was unfortunate that Ramdev claimed that several coronavirus patients had died because of consuming allopathic medicines. He said that Ramdev’s social stature meant that his comments hold significance and so he should be wary of the prevailing scenario before giving such statements.
“You should be aware that allopathy has given cures for serious ailments like small pox, polio, Ebola, SARS and tuberculosis,” Vardhan wrote. “Even the vaccine that has proved to be a potent weapon against coronavirus is also a gift of allopathy.”
Vardhan also told Ramdev that the clarification issued by Patanjali Yogpeeth was insufficient. “You [Ramdev] have mentioned in the clarification that you do not have ill intentions for modern science and good doctors,” Vardhan wrote. “I do not regard this justification as a viable one.”
Ramdev and his company Patanjali Ayurved had courted another controversy earlier this year for promoting a product called Coronil, which the firm claimed was the “first evidence-based medicine” for coronavirus.
Vardhan had attended the event where Ramdev released a research paper on Coronil. The Indian Medical Association had strongly objected to the Centre’s endorsement of the “unscientific product”.
In an interview with News Nation, Ramdev even claimed that a World Health Organization team had visited his company and given Coronil the licence for sale in more than 150 countries. Several Bharatiya Janata Party leaders also backed Patanjali’s claim. However, the WHO later clarified that it had not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine.