Cola Yoga: A fizz for profit – The New Indian Express

Express News Service

On the ongoing controversy over yoga trainer and entrepreneur Ramdev’s utterances against allopathy and futility of vaccination, a senior ruling party lawmaker 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 rise of soft drink giants, 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 is entrepreneur Ramdev’s quest for profit which keeps him ‘constantly happy’ and even happier at belittling his 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 ayurveda one has to study the course of BAMS from a government-approved college, undergo compulsory internship, then register the 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 licence, 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 Organization expert, to endorse a packet of immunity boosters as medicine against the virus. Ramdev’s clout is further visible in him throwing down the gauntlet at the government to arrest him for speaking against the vaccines. PM Modi may in public broadcasts applaud the role of allopathic practitioners, call for vaccination utsav but is yet to either reprimand or act against the blabbering Baba.

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

India is a blessed land where we have six evolved forms of medical practise — ayurveda, siddha, unani, sowa-rigpa, homeopathy 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 allopathy. Then why allow this present friction to fester for somebody’s material gain?

Sidharth Mishra
Author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice

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