GTA5

Need science, not superstition to fight Covid

Yoga guru and businessman Baba Ramdev has changed his yogic pose. Weeks after scornfully declaring that allopathy calls itself a `super science’ but is actually a ‘stupid science’ and announcing that “lakhs of  people have died after taking allopathic medicines,” the Baba now describes doctors as ‘god’s messengers’ and says that he himself intends to take the Covid vaccine. Earlier, Ramdev’s bizarre anti-allopathy public tirade had led to a shocked Indian Medical Association filing police and legal complaints. Justifiably so. A person of enormous influence railing against doctors and allopathic medicine in a pandemic can be dangerous. At this time, `anti-science’ babagiri should take a back seat to modern science.

It is modern medicine which is today saving millions, and it is scientists and doctors who have discovered, in a dramatically compressed time span, the only proven protection against coronavirus, namely the Covid vaccine. In a stunning achievement for science, the vaccine has been developed in less than a year. It is science which is enabling us to understand whatever little we know of SARS CoV-2 and its variants. Yes, allopathy (like democracy) may be an imperfect system, but in a health crisis it gives human beings the best fighting chance.

With power comes responsibility: Ramdev has since backtracked but his comments undermine Covid effort

Health minister Dr Harshvardhan’s criticism of Ramdev’s anti-doctor remarks — the minister used the anodyne words “unfortunate and inappropriate” — were surprisingly mild. The minister should have spoken up much more strongly in defence of India’s doctors, many of whom have sacrificed their own lives to treat Covid patients. But then Ramdev was once a key member of the India Against Corruption alliance which brought down the UPA and he’s part of the wider saffron establishment. Ramdev has launched his own Covid cure, the “Coronil kit”, even though the WHO has stated it had not certified any traditional cures for Covid, and Harshvardhan attended Ramdev’s Coronil press conference.

Those who pour scorn on the medical and scientific community’s struggle against Covid are delegitimising the scientific process. Science invites questions, submits to scrutiny and accepts evidence-based corrections if new data is proved valid. Science builds trust because its processes are transparent. Ramdev hasn’t provided scientific evidence on why he’s convinced allopathy doesn’t work, he simply dismisses it based on claims of absolute truth, religious dogma and his own magical certainties. Where science prizes accurate data, the ‘anti science’ mentality promotes a disregard of data and denial of factual realities. Disseminating this kind of ‘anti-science’ mindset is a terrible disservice to India and can lead to people venting irrational rage against medical workers.

But why blame only Baba Ramdev? Over the years, many politicians have confused medicine with mythology and science with superstition. Minister Shripad Naik once said yoga could cure cancer, while MP Sadhvi Pragya Thakur declared that cow urine could cure Covid although she was herself airlifted from Bhopal to a speciality Mumbai hospital for treatment. PM Modi cited Ganesha as an example of plastic surgery existing in ancient times. HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal once said an Indian sage had conducted nuclear tests and Tripura CM Biplab Deb asserted the internet existed in the Mahabharat. These may be myths and beliefs, but they’re not evidence-based facts.

India was founded as a modern republic based on the Enlightenment values of reason, rationality and evidence-based truths as guides to progress. Without these values and the much-maligned Nehru’s commitment to scientific temper, India would neither have a space programme, nor would its scientists and engineers be equipped to work in global scientific institutions. In a country where superstitions and unthinking practices can hurt the most vulnerable, leaders have a moral responsibility to spread evidence-based knowledge and not undermine public trust in science. If they do, semi-literate populations could lapse into quackery, blind faith, vaccine hesitancy and refusal of medical protocols.

Rants against “foreign” medicines in times of a global fight against Covid are also out of place.

There is no reason why yoga and Ayurveda with its dizzying array of remedies cannot easily co-exist with allopathy, each complementing the other. Traditions often have a modern resonance. The Krishna-Arjuna dialogue in the Bhagavadgita consisting of fearless open questioning captures the essence of the scientific temper. In a health emergency, India desperately needs cutting-edge science and skilled allopathic doctors with their proven abilities to save lives. This is not the time for prime time ‘babagiri’ or ‘anti-science’ diatribes against doctors, but a time to stand with our corona warriors. After all, Baba Ramdev and politicians are protected by celebrity status and special security, but who will protect the exhausted doctor toiling alone in hospital wards?



Linkedin


Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



END OF ARTICLE



Tags
Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also
Close
Back to top button
Close
Close