“You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They do not alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views.”
— Doctor Who (1977)
The Right-Wing has never been known to focus on logic and facts in any sphere of their existence. Political hypocrisy aside, the coronavirus pandemic has brought out the worst of them in a manner that is both degrading and dangerous. While the terror-accused MP Pragya Thakur has been notorious in the promulgation of the newfound delusional quackery of cow-science, the Ministry of Education has taken the false sciences (sorry, it is too false to be even called a pseudoscience) to new levels, introducing new courses and departments of cow-sciences in various educational institutes of the country.
Hypocrisy has always been their strong suit. BJP MP Pragya Thakur claims that cow-products cured her cancer but underwent chemotherapy and surgery to treat the same – maybe it just skips her memory in the interviews. Bengal BJP Chief Dilip Ghosh claims that Indian cows’ milk has something special in them that makes it “best on the planet”, “a cure for diabetes, obesity, asthma and joint pain”, and “contain trace amounts of gold” – all while refusing to entertain the corollary that such benefits could also be enjoyed by eating beef.
Nevertheless, the new lows have been achieved by the Ministry of Health – and that too in the most inopportune moment – in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. The Health Ministry and the Cabinet Minister for Health, Dr Harsh Vardhan (a doctor by profession, by the way), have advertised, subsidised and popularised the newest quackery by Baba (read Lala, meaning a cunning trader in Hindi) Ramdev – Coronil. The newest gimmick of the suspiciously unlisted company was claimed to show 100% efficiency in clinical trials on coronavirus patients. No data has ever been found to back up these claims. The Ministry of AYUSH denied having clearance to launch new drugs and asked Patanjali Ayurved to stop until the trial results had been examined. The Government of Uttarakhand’s Ayurved department further stated that the approval application for Coronil did not mention COVID-19. Patanjali later withdrew the claim that Coronil was a cure to COVID-19. The judge, in his ruling, also observed that Patanjali has been “chasing further profits by exploiting the fear and panic among the general public by projecting a cure for the coronavirus when their ‘Coronil Tablet’ is not a cure”.
Fast forward to February 2021. Patanjali claimed that Coronil had received approval from the Ministry of AYUSH and got certified by the WHO. These reports were celebrated at a press conference attended by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, and “studies” were released that Coronil was effective against COVID-19. These claims were later politicised by the self-declared flag bearers of the Sanatan Culture – the BJP – and all credit went, of course, to Modi. In response, the WHO on 22 February clarified that it had not “…reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment #Covid19”. Several news and fact-checking outlets debunked Ramdev’s claims. They proved that Coronil merely received a license for export and had not received any approval regarding its effectiveness as a treatment against COVID-19. Following this, the CEO of Patanjali Ayurveda, Acharya Balkrishna, admitted to all this on Twitter. Coronil had merely been granted approval by the Drugs Controller General of India for exports and not as a certification of effectiveness.
This assault on allopathy and doctors found its climax last week when Ramdev made stunningly ignorant remarks on how “thousands of doctors had died of COVID even after taking both shots of the vaccine” and how “doctors were doing nothing less than medical terrorism” and that allopathy is “a stupid science”. As expected, he later withdrew his comments and “regretted” the controversy. He currently faces an INR 10 billion (USD 138 million) defamation suit filed against him by the IMA (Indian Medical Association) for such accusations. Nevertheless, he still finds himself surrounded by the followers of his cult, who believe in everything he says and preach it day and night, but when things get tough, they find themselves in the hands of doctors. Hypocrisy does indeed run deep in the veins of the Indian Right Wing.
Evidently, all it took for the Indian Right Wing was just a few months – and they have changed their stance from showering flowers on doctors and banging thaalis for them to blaming them for the surging pandemic in the country. Let us hope the Indian Public does not have as frail opinions as they want it to be. Let us hope they remember all of it in 2024.