FII is now on Telegram
6 mins read

Co-authored by Saranya

The Constitution of India in Fundamental Duties under Article 51 A(h) reads: It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform. Although we are obligated to promote scientific temper, scientific temper seems to languish in a corner amid the raging pandemic.

Throughout the varied phases of the pandemic, we have witnessed everything from the manufactured hype on social media about COVID-19 remedies, with some groups claiming that vibrations generated from the clanging utensils and claps would destroy the deadly virus to the fancy imaginations reckoned as theories backed by politicians explaining how heat from lighting candles would kill coronavirus. Nonetheless, the number of cases went up and these fancy hypotheses collapsed.

Fast forward one year: the disastrous COVID-19 second wave caught India off guard and the nation was left gasping for oxygen. Rumormongers were back in business. In a dire state of helplessness, some people chose to hurriedly forward the prescriptions in circulation through WhatsApp University to their relatives and friends that directed inhaling the vapors coming off a pouch (potli) of camphor, clove, ajwain, and eucalyptus oil to increase oxygen levels. A set of health experts and bodies had to step in again to discard another claim that two drops of lemon can help increase oxygen saturation level in the body and prevent COVID-19 infection. While India is trying to prevent another catastrophic wave, the job of the medics becomes more tiring and difficult because of reasons like hot rumours such as “those who take the jab die” and thus the reluctance in getting vaccines adds to the ongoing woes.

Also read: Why Is There A Shortage Of Nurses In India?

As if this was not enough, we had another difficulty staring us in the face- Two instances of physical assault on doctors made news last week. Among several similar cases, on June 3 a doctor in Karnataka was brutally assaulted by the relatives of a six-year-old boy after he died at another hospital.

Spate of assaults on doctors

As if this was not enough, we had another difficulty staring us in the face- Two instances of physical assault on doctors made news last week. On June 3, a doctor in Karnataka was brutally assaulted by the relatives of a six-year-old boy after he died at another hospital. Dr. Deepak CE cycling back to his home was seriously injured and shifted to a hospital in Shivamogga. Another doctor on COVID-19 duty at Udali Covid care centre in Assam was attacked by a mob comprising the relatives and friends of a patient who died at the health facility. Dr. Seuj Kumar Senapati was mercilessly punched, kicked, and pounded with metal trash cans and bricks by the relatives of the deceased. In May-end, a video of assault on a female doctor by a COVID-19 patient’s kin at VIMS hospital in Ballari, Karnataka went viral on social media sites with netizens demanding strict and immediate action. Unfortunately, five such incidents of attack on medical officers at VIMS were reported in the previous week.

Become an FII Member

Karnataka Association of Resident Doctors in a letter to chief minister B S Yediyurappa stated that, “There are more than 12 registered incidents of assault on healthcare workers in the past 8-10 months while the unnoticed, unregistered assaults, and also incidents of verbal abuse, threats, and hampering of duties, can amount to hundreds”. The number of registered assault cases doubled from April to May, as per data available on Medical Dialogues. There have been several incidents of assault on front line workers in India amid the coronavirus crisis. In 2020 alone, India reported the highest number of such attacks on healthcare professionals in the world, with 128 out of the 412 incidents.

Also read: Baba Ramdev: Manipulating The Masses Using Social Privilege

Coronil and the Ministry of Lies

Meanwhile, on May 22, the Indian Medical Association wrote an angry letter to Ramdev attacking him for his characterisation of modern medicine as a “stupid and bankrupt science.” The yoga guru had carelessly blamed drugs such as Remdesivir and Fabiflu, which have been approved for use by the Indian government, for the “deaths of lakhs” of people during the pandemic.

In a video that went viral, Ramdev claimed that more than 10,000 doctors in India have died even after getting both doses of the coronavirus vaccine, the Indian Express reported.

That wasn’t all. In a video that went viral, Ramdev claimed that more than 10,000 doctors in India have died even after getting both doses of the coronavirus vaccine, the Indian Express reported. In this regard, recently the Delhi High Court issued summons to Ramdev on a plea accusing him of making statements against allopathic medicines and claiming Patanjali’s Coronil kit is a cure for COVID-19 but refused to restrain him at this stage saying the allopathic profession was not so fragile. This came after the suit was filed by Delhi Medical Association (DMA). The DMA, on behalf of its doctor members, submitted before the court that Ramdev’s statements are misleading since Coronil does not cure corona virus.

Medical association Vs Baba Ramdev: 5 things to know about the controversy  | Business Standard News
In a video that went viral, Ramdev claimed that more than 10,000 doctors in India have died even after getting both doses of the coronavirus vaccine, the Indian Express reported. Image Source: Business Standard

That wasn’t all. In a video that went viral, Ramdev claimed that more than 10,000 doctors in India have died even after getting both doses of the coronavirus vaccine, the Indian Express reported. In this regard, recently the Delhi High Court issued summons to Ramdev on a plea accusing him of making statements against allopathic medicines and claiming Patanjali’s Coronil kit is a cure for COVID-19 but refused to restrain him at this stage saying the allopathic profession was not so fragile. This came after the suit was filed by Delhi Medical Association (DMA). The DMA, on behalf of its doctor members, submitted before the court that Ramdev’s statements are misleading since Coronil does not cure corona virus.

The Ayush Ministry had made a statement that Coronil was not a cure for COVID-19 and could not be advertised as such and had held Patanjali accountable to give details. Following this, Ramdev declared it an immunity booster. While the court is of the opinion that the clarifications made by Ramdev later should settle the grievance, the issue at hand is about so much more: that Ramdev has a large following and how such irresponsible remarks and chimeric marketing lies to sell his products perpetuates a psyche which makes it relatively easier for people to attack doctors over questioning the efficacy and science behind the many products marketed by the likes of Ramdev.  

Why resist the spirit of scientific inquiry?

In what is yet another instance, comes the inclusion of Ramdev-promoted Patanjali Ayurved’s Coronil in the Uttarakhand government’s COVID-19 kit amounts to mixopathy”. The Uttarakhand unit of the Indian Medical Association raising strong objection to the proposal. Pointing out that Coronil has not been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and that it is not included in the central government’s guidelines, the doctors’ body said, “The addition of Coronil with allopathic drugs shall also amount to mixopathy (cocktail of ayurveda and allopathy), which is not permitted as per the rulings of the Supreme Court, and using it would be contempt.”

Coronavirus treatment: Ramdev's Patanjali launches Coronil kit for ₹545
Ramdev-promoted Patanjali Ayurved’s Coronil was proposed by the Uttarakhand government to be included in COVID-19 kits.

It is in times like these that one has to contend with questions like to what extent is this anger justified when simultaneously we are comfortably closing our eyes to the remarks made by some faith-healers advising against vaccines and pushing the masses away from developing a scientific temper. On top of that, many among us complacently accepted Coronil as an equivalent of the vaccines. What can be a better way than this of not only deriding the community of scientists and doctors but also of making their job even more difficult?

Finally, we must remember what these instances reflect. They are a mirror to a deep-rooted deficit of scientific temper in our society even today. The pandemic has only exposed this deficit further. But, most importantly, we must ask ourselves who suffers most in this. It’s those who we now know as our “front line warriors” who are forced to bear the brunt of growing distrust. If these are our warriors and you believe this is a war against a virus, then by making it difficult for our ‘warriors’ by resisting the spirit of scientific inquiry, who are you siding with?


Saranya is a Chinese language Expert with keen interest in Public Policy.

Featured image sourc: FT.com

Follow FII channels on Youtube and Telegram for latest updates.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here