‘If you can’t respect, at least don’t mock’
An open letter to Baba Ramdev
India is still battling a deadly pandemic and we are nowhere near the end. I am writing this letter grasping the reality that I have lost another friend and a doctor to corona. She was due to deliver her first child.
Healthcare workers are scurrying for bed, oxygen cylinders and medicines to save patients. People with access to the internet have turned to social media to find leads for beds and oxygen cylinders for their loved ones, a job expected from the government. Meanwhile, rural India is collapsing to the virus without any resources to help them.
The second wave of COVID in India has left a trail of devastation. Every other person you speak to is likely to have a tale of loss and grief tugging at their heartstrings. However, the worst affected are our front-line workers who are overworked, exhausted, sleep-deprived. The people working with minimal assistance from the government. The one compromising their physical and mental health.
When you reduce them to mere numbers with a nonchalance that questions your empathy, you might need to know some of the facts. Yesterday WHO announced that 1,15,000 health and care workers have died due to COVID since the pandemic began. I will give names to some of those numbers hoping that these names will force you to think before you speak.
Starting from the youngest,
- 26 year old Dr Anas Mujahid
- Dr Dimple Chawla who was pregnant with her second child
- Dr Jagdish Mishra who served 50 years in Prayagraj imparting knowledge to hundreds of student
- Dr KK Agrawal who has spread education till his last breath
- Dr Manisha Jadhav leaves a child and distraught family behind
- Dr Pradeep Bijalwan, a messiah for starting a street medicine program for the underprivileged met a tragic end as he was unable to arrange oxygen for himself.
The list is extensive. I dread looking at my phone. It could be another frantic call from someone who wants to ensure that his/her loved ones are recovering. Sometimes I return a missed call just to know that person is at cremation ground performing last rites to the only family he/she had.
Any person who has an iota of conscience will be able to empathize with the situation. Instead, you chose to disregard the basic respect for the people who have died performing their duties by disseminating misinformation.
But before I expect any form of understanding from you, let me ask you a few important questions which the anchors of the mainstream media have conveniently left unaddressed.
- Which stream of medicine/ which ‘pathy’ do you associate yourself to that enables you to comment on modern medicine?
- According to you, hypoxia is an unnecessary complaint because oxygen is available all around us. We just need to use our lungs and breathe.
In a video that has surfaced, you can be heard saying, “People are looking for cylinders outside while God has given you two cylinders right here inside you. Use them, fool!”
How do you plan to guide the ‘stupid’ doctors on how to extract that for a patient whose oxygen levels are critically low?
- You go on to further claim that people whose oxygen levels dropped to 80 did kapalbhati and anulom vilom pranayama on your instructions and recovered their oxygen saturation. In that case why didn’t you come ahead and use your influence to include that as a help to the thousands dying?
- You were upset about the ‘negative environment’ created by people constantly complaining of oxygen and bed shortage. In that case, can you explain the official data which puts India third in the world for number of deaths due to Corona?
- Why did you change the status of Coronil from a ‘cure’ to an ‘immunity booster’? Does it have anything to do with WHO publicly refuting your claims of approval and license?
- Don’t you supply other problematic drugs that claims to ‘cure’ homosexuality and ‘helps’ women conceive a male child? How do you like to defend these drugs?
- In December 2016, Patanjali was fined Rs 11 lakh for “misleading ads”, “misbranding” and “misrepresentation” of its products. This was done after samples of Patanjali honey, salt, mustard oil, jam and besan failed to meet quality standards. This was after the advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), had already pulled up ‘Patanjali Dant Kanti’ for “misleading” and “unsubstantiated” ads in July earlier that year. Why should we believe in anything you say when you yourself are accused of various kinds of fraud?
- How are you treating critical patients at your 150 bed COVID ICU at Haridwar? With Coronil or real doctors? Newslaundry did a story based on the letter by Dr SK Soni, the centre’s chief medical superintendent. He has raised the issue of absence of staffs leading to lack of treatment, hygiene, and functional x-ray machines. Do you have any explanation?
- Ramdev you run a multibillion empire and thousands of your followers still trust you with their health and well-being. We expect you to either not speak in the areas where you don’t have the expertise or at least refrain from mocking the people who are trying their best. The misinformation you spread might end up taking lives, if you care for it at all.
Doctors are not superheroes. They are humans like the rest of us. Many feel agitated, helpless and unprotected. With a lack of access to personal protective equipment and vaccines, their job is getting tougher by each passing day. They don’t deserve to be disrespected by someone with tainted credibility. Don’t expect us to be silent in the confidence of the power you think you have.
Your apology is shallow and ridicules the services by millions of healthcare workers trying to save the world from a raging pandemic.
And yes if at all a need comes for you to avail services of modern medicine, doctors will treat you with utmost dedication and professionalism.
Dr Pooja Tripathi