Intolerance of Modern Medicine

Sep 26, 2022

It may take a long time to see Ayurvedic doctors performing surgeries successfully, which certainly requires open-minded support from the surgeons practising modern medicine. At the same time, the unethical call for doctors’ strike showed how deeply the doctors were afraid of the new ways getting opened for their peers in the Ayurveda to do surgeries.

Two months after the Central government declared Ayurveda protocol for the treatment of asymptomatic and milder cases of Covid-19, the government opened a gateway for Ayurvedic doctors to do surgeries in future. The government has allowed postgraduate (PG) students to practise general surgery alongside orthopaedic, ophthalmology, ENT and dental.

The amendment in the Indian Medicine Central Council Regulations, 2016 has introduced formal training as part of the curriculum for postgraduate students of general surgery (shalya) and diseases of ENT, eye, head and ortho-dentistry (shalakya) specialisations. The amendment is going to set a radical change in the Ayurveda stream, which will bring India atop the world of medical science in times to come. The Indian Medical Association (IMA), however, protested against the government decision. It called for a one-day nationwide strike. A million doctors joined the unethical practice of strike on 11th December, unbecoming of the community. They violated the core of their social responsibility and morality. I have a simple question to ask: What has made IMA unhappy with the government decision? The government has not made modern medicines sacrifice anything for the sake of promoting Ayurveda. Let not the IMA gesture create a wrong impression.

The decision will only add to the talent pool of medical experts through harnessing the strength of India’s traditional medicine. Such a decision doesn’t mean a ploy for making modern medicine irrelevant. It has its own place, relevance and importance so long as human beings live on the earth. Ultimately, one must know the fact that only what is scientifically sound will survive the test of time, be it modern medicine or traditional medicine. One with full trust in the wisdom of science may relax.

Traditional medicine and modern medicine cannot compete with each other. Both the streams of medicines are engaged in the service of assuaging the pain of human beings. Ayurveda is unequivocally the traditional medicine of India, which treats all ailments human beings to suffer. Modern medicine is good for meeting the medical urgency that one requires in modern life. Victims of accident and trauma can be better treated by modern medicine as that happens in modern life. In fact, modern medicine is developed primarily for treating the eventuality of modern life. Let the people choose the best way of treatment between Ayurveda and modern medicine, by their comfort, capacity and urgency. A strong regulator is there in place to discipline the medical practices.

The resolute approach of the government in promoting Ayurveda despite strong pressure from the lobby of modern medicine is indeed admirable, though the action has come too late. India has lost many centuries in tapping the treasures of traditional medicine, which has proven its efficacy over the years as the experiences of patients explain adequately. In fact, we have lost the link with the vast knowledge treasure while sitting on the heap of dust that downed the Ayurveda deep into a fossilised state. Modern medicine has moved up unabated on the clout of hot capital, that is obviously oriented with business culture. The hot capital could chase modern medicine eventually to build a business culture around it.

I don’t say that is a forbidden capital. In a commercial perspective, that is good for its growth and innovation. But let’s not forget, even before the era of modern medicine, human illnesses were treated. Death rates among all age groups and the average span of life were the same.

No one can deny the fact that modern medicine, which can claim the legacy of fewer than two centuries, has come a long way to save some sick and make some sick sicker. But the culture built around it is hegemonic. That is true, a foreign culture. Indians even now call modern medicines as English medicines.

Foreigners, whom we received with an open-heart, finally ruled us, paying heavily for our receptiveness. Our openness enabled them to successfully impose their culture and lifestyle on us by the time we showed them the doors. By the time, they could successfully humiliate the natives. Everything domestic was rebuked, calling it “country”. The culture of modern medicine also seemed to have been equipped with the hegemonic sense. Their long years of domination, almost through the period of modern medicines origin and development, left us to feel inferior about anything Indian. We remained self-rebuked ever since. IMA’s protest calls and uneasiness over the government decision to promote Ayurveda seems to have emanated from foreign influence. I believe one shouldn’t be surprised with the irritation that the apostles of modern medicine showed after the government decided to turn around the Ayurveda from its centuries-long dormancy.

But IMA must not forget the legacy of modern medicine. The genesis of modern medicine lies in the 18th-century industrial revolution in the western world. As the economic activities picked up, the western powers moved around the world to expand their empire. No dispute, that followed hectic scientific activities too through the 19th and 20th century.

The discoveries of virus and bacteria were recorded in history after the industrial revolution. That shouldn’t mean viruses and bacteria weren’t existent before their discoveries and the era of modern medicine started. That again shouldn’t mean, all those were sick by virus and bacteria infections died because of no treatment available to them. The biggest pandemic flu that killed numberless people in India was recorded in the days of the western industrial revolution. Modern medicine was half just way through its legacy at that time. There was no remedy in modern medicine for that pandemic that swept through India after the First World War ended. Targeted medicine and vaccination appeared only many years after the pandemic was controlled. Before that, what used to control the spread of infection was the traditional medicines, which the protagonists called placebos and quackery.

It is undeniable, modern medicines have shown tremendous progress. No surprise then that the healthcare segment is dominated by modern medicine keeping traditional medicine far behind. Anything further for the betterment of mankind is not a sin or a blunder. People as intelligent as doctors must show a bigger heart to accommodate their peers if they mean service to those who fight for a healthy life by their profession.

Until the middle of the 19th century, there was no anaesthesia. But the history recorded that the first surgery was carried out by Sushruta, who lived six centuries before Christ (BC) and two centuries before Hippocrates. Greeks called Hippocrates the “father of medicine”. History also recorded the fact that Sushruta used inhalation anaesthesia for doing surgery. No one knew when was the knowledge of the surgery and anaesthesia lost in history. Still, as the history had hinted at anaesthesia being used by Sushruta, there could have been an attempt to explore its root and develop it further. That never happened, nor did the modern medical science encourage scientific exploration through the available information. Unless that was done, how could one presume, Ayurveda would never be competent for doing surgery? The foreign domination tore down India’s classical assets.

Instead of sulking over the decision of the government to make the most brilliant of Ayurvedic practitioners trace their roots and try out what the “father of surgery” is known to have done, the present-day advocates of modern the medicine must have encouraged peers. Hippocrates, who lived in a classical era, is called “father of medicine” even though every medicine which is used in the human world is developed only in the last half a century.