How Trader Ramdev Leverages Coronavirus to Expand His Business

India's Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, visits the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi to review the Covid-19 preparedness on April 16, 2021. Photo: PIB
India’s Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, visits the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi to review the Covid-19 preparedness on April 16, 2021. Photo: PIB

Although Ramdev reluctantly retracted his statement, he claimed that his remedies using ayurveda and yoga have also saved many lives during the pandemic.

By Rakesh Raman

Ramdev – a local businessman – who is trying to leverage the coronavirus pandemic to sell his untested ayurveda drugs and orthodox remedy – has been forced to withdraw his obnoxious statement against the science-based allopathic treatment.

Of late, Ramdev – who has links with the present Indian government headed by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi – purportedly said in a video that “lakhs of people died because of allopathic medicines” during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday (May 23), however, he had to willy nilly withdraw his statement when India’s health minister in the Modi government, Harsh Vardhan, asked Ramdev – the founder of Patanjali Ayurved – to completely withdraw his objectionable statement. 

Harsh Vardhan – who has promoted Ramdev’s dubious Covid-19 treatment in the past said that his remarks against allopathy for Covid treatment can break the morale of doctors and weaken the fight against the pandemic.

Although Ramdev reluctantly retracted his statement, he claimed that his remedies using ayurveda and yoga have also saved many lives during the pandemic; which also should be respected. Ramdev shared his letter on Twitter on May 23.

Health minister Harsh Vardhan’s insistence for an apology from Ramdev had come when the Indian Medical Association (IMA) sought legal action against Ramdev under the Epidemic Diseases Act for his “vitriolic accusation” against modern medicine.

In fact, Harsh Vardhan and Ramdev are chips of the same block, as both have been misleading the people by spreading disinformation. Recently, naive Harsh Vardhan – who does not deserve to be a minister let alone health minister –  had asked people to consume dark chocolate with 70 percent cocoa content to beat Covid-related stress. His random claim was challenged by public health researchers.

As the Modi government has failed to contain coronavirus, it was reported recently that the government was promoting spurious drugs of small-time companies to treat the infection. According to reports, health minister Harsh Vardhan endorsed a product of Ramdev’s local outfit Patanjali, which falsely claimed that it is offering the “first evidence-based medicine for corona” approved by the WHO.

But WHO rejected the claims, saying that WHO has not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment Covid-19. After WHO’s clarification in February, Patanjali – owned by Ramdev who is close to PM Modi – retracted its misleading claim.

In this apparent quid pro quo case where Ramdev helps Modi and his party BJP in politics, the Modi government has tried to promote Ramdev’s untested (or may be harmful) medicine Coronil, which can be fatal on Indian consumers.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA), which is a leading association of doctors in India, has censured Modi’s health minister Harsh Vardhan who appeared in an event to endorse Ramdev’s Coronil.

“If Coronil is effective for prevention, why is the government spending Rs. 35,000 crore (US$ 5 billion approximately) for vaccination,” asked the IMA and demanded details of the so-called research or trial on the basis of which Ramdev’s company Patanjali had made the claim.

“Being a health minister of the country, how ethical is it to release such falsely fabricated unscientific products to the people of the country?” asked the IMA in its  statement. The IMA also objected to Ramdev’s derogatory statements about allopathic doctors and modern medicine.

According to a Times of India news report, at an event held on February 19 in New Delhi, health minister Harsh Vardhan and transport minister Nitin Gadkari were present when Patanjali founder Ramdev claimed that a medicine called Divya Coronil tablet is part of the treatment for coronavirus.

Since Ramdev is a supporter of the Modi government, no legal action has been taken against him.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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