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Cola Yoga: A fizz for profit

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By Sidharth Mishra

On the ongoing controversy on Yoga trainer and entrepreneur Ramdev’s utterances against allopathy and futility of vaccination, a senior ruling party law-maker Sanjay Jaiswal had a very apt comment to make. Jaiswal, a medical professional, called Ramdev a yoga trainer but not a Yogi. “A Yogi is one who has control over all his senses and brain. What he has done for yoga is comparable to what Coca Cola did for beverages. Indians have been, for ages, consuming shikanji and thandai but after the advent of the soft drink giant, every home seems to be stocked with bottles of Pepsi and Coke,” Jaiswal said.

In articulation of his thoughts, Jaiswal has come to give a name -- Cola Yoga -- to a new trend in our society which belittles anything in the name of Bhartiyata (of Indian origin). The epithet of Cola Yoga is derived from what the researchers in economics and sociology identify as Coca Cola culture, which spreads a feeling of happiness for the purpose of maximising profit. It’s entrepreneur Ramdev’s quest of profit which keeps him ‘constantly happy’ and even happier at belittling the rivals in the market.

In the fitness of fair debate, it may be mentioned that this article is not a document to criticise Ayurveda. The writer would rather confess that he and his family have in the past 16 months lived on an admixture of a homeopathic medicine, ayurvedic immunity boosters and allopathic supplements to keep the dreaded virus at bay so far. The ayurvedic immunity concoctions are, however, not those packaged herbs claimed by Ramdev as elixir but drugs purchased off the counter based on an ayurvedic practitioner’s prescription.

In this ongoing controversy the biggest loser has been the Ayurvedic stream of science, for which Ramdev is not licensed to speak for. To practise Ayurvedic medicine one has to study the course of BAMS from a government approved college, undergo compulsory internship, then register degree with the Central Council for Indian Medicines and get a valid registration number to practice medicine. Ramdev has none of these credentials and is not qualified to speak for Ayurvedic medicine. If he doesn’t have the license, what makes him project himself as a practitioner of the famed Indian medicine?

The answer probably lies in the prevalence of, as mentioned earlier, a highly materialistic Cola Yoga Culture, which somewhere has the backing of government. Ramdev’s clout within the government is visible when he gets country's health minister Harshvardhan, a qualified allopathic practitioner and a long-time World Health Organisation expert, to endorse a packet of immunity boosters as medicine against the virus. Ramdev’s clout is further visible in him throwing the gauntlet at the government to arrest him for speaking against the life-saving vaccines. Prime Minister Narendra Modi may in public broadcasts applaud the role of allopathic practitioners and para-medic, call for vaccination Utsav (drive) but is still to either reprimand or his government act against the blabbering Baba.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his second tenure has made sufficient ‘class’ enemies and he certainly should not have the doctors and the paramedics lined up against him. Allopathy cannot be riled for having continental-Christian roots as some of his political rivals are targeted. Will we disown the vaccine made by Bharat Biotech and the anti-Covid drug made by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for being part of allopathy?

India is a blessed land where we have six evolved forms of medical practise -- Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani, Sowa Rigpa, Homeopathic and Allopathy, all recognised by the government. There are several instances of one stream supplementing the other. There are research-backed Ayurvedic drugs made by most credible laboratories co-existing for the past 100 years with allopathic pharmacies. Then why allow this present friction to fester for somebody’s material gain.     

(First Published in The Morning Standard) 


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