The current spat between the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Baba Ramdev of Patanjali is like a modern version of Charles Dickens’ famous novel A Tale of Two Cities, that led to the French Revolution. The Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA) has decided to execute a Black Day on the 1st of June against the controversial statements made by Baba Ramdev against Allopathy and the video shared by him on Twitter. These activities by the allopaths are only goes on to strengthen the value proposition of Alternative Therapies and Indian Traditional Medicine in the minds of the consumer and view IMA and the Allopaths with suspect. The louder the decibel in media the faster would be the Medical Revolution against Allopathy.
Having led the world’s first Integrative Medicine Partnership at the Institute of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (IAIM) and served their Advisory Board, I would like to request both sides to set aside their differences and work towards delivering innovative integrative solutions between the two systems for the consumers before it is too late that the consumers bring about a Medical Systems Revolution. Here are some of the points and issues that I would like to lay down for the jury of the consumers to judge and adjudicate.
Investor Perspective: Larger Flow of Investments in Indian Alternative Therapies
Investors and companies invest in opportunities where they see money and value proposition for the consumer’s needs. Let’s understand from the consumers point of view the world over which is becoming more and more skeptic of the allopathic system and their preference towards Indian Traditional Medicine or Alternative Therapies and Medicine for treatment and wellness. Our annual Healthcare and Sciences Heatmap 2021 Investment Heat Map | Kapil Khandelwal (KK) every year is measuring the investment in different sectors including Alternative Therapies. Our conclusion is that Indian Alternative Therapies and Medicine have been gaining wider consumer acceptance and affirmation leading to increased investment activities. Apart from the shift from Allopathy towards Some of the key drivers for investment in this sector are:
- Economic growth and rising incomes
- Rising per capita expenditures on healthcare products
- Low cost of production
- Improvements in the distribution network
- Increase in accessibility in both urban and rural regions
- Awareness programs and subsidies
- Rise in non-communicable and chronic diseases
It’s not Baba alone who is the key enemy of the allopaths As per our analysis over 60 corporate groups, pharma and consumer companies, including Multinational Companies (MNCs) have diversified into Indian Alternative Therapies and Medicines with an overall investment of over INR 80000 crores. Moreover, as a boost to this sector, the government recently introduced an economic stimulus package under the Atmanirbhar Bharat and has allotted INR 4,000 crore to the sector for promotion of herbal cultivation. The move aims to cover 10 lakh hectares (24.7 lakh acres) under herbal cultivation over a period of two years
Defamations Cannot Muffle Consumer’s Choice
Nearly 75 per cent of Indian households already use some form of Ayurveda to treat a variety of problems. The writing is on the wall for Allopathy during the current Covid Pandemic, when those who were the forbearers of medical treatment had no answers to treat Covid and the consumers themselves had to search for home made solutions to build immunity and treat mild forms of the infections themselves. Rather than take the prescribed Allopath Doctor’s prescription of artificial vitamins, zinc and tablets, etc. consumers preferred gilroy, kali mirchi, methi, nimbu pani, turmeric, kada, etc. Where was IMA hiding in 2020 with a mass campaign to debunk all these stuff that the consumers were ingesting based on Indian Alternative Therapies and Medicines. I am sure with the current spat between the Baba and IMA allopaths, pharmaceutical companies, doctors and others seem to fear that their dominance is at stake is very apparent.
Indian Alternative Therapies and Medicine are Learning from The Chinese Traditional Medicine
Indian Traditional Medicine and Chinese Traditional Medicine are equally older than Allopathy. However, Chinese export over 5 times more in value their traditional medicines to the world than the Indians. The Chinese were able to lead this sector globally by publishing and sponsoring enough research on quality, effectiveness and safety of their traditional medicine. Moreover they were able to invest aggressively in research in combining their traditional medicine with western medicines into integrative medicine. Why is there no spat between Chinese and the large pharma companies of the West?
India is learning from the Chinese catching up by investing heavily on:
- Product innovation is the core to the healthcare solutions that consumers are seeking against allopathic medicine
- Study Ayurveda and Alternative Therapies by using the methods and means of western medicine. (As a side note: I know for sure that the same Baba recruited one of my ex-colleagues who was from allopathic drug discovery having worked in US and India to set this up at his Patanjali Research. I am sure he has some aces up his sleeve when he is challenging IMA in the courts rather than just tendering an apology.)
- Innovate the basic theory of Indian Alternative Therapies. Different from the western medicine which starts from the molecular biology, Ayurveda is researched and developed based on systematic biology of Kafa, Wada, Pitta. Clinical trials and research is strengthening this potential
- Big Data solutions into health informatics to empirically proving where Allopathy stops and Ayurveda starts. At IAIM, there is a large initiative to collect data to prove what limits Allopathy and where Ayurveda benefits the consumer.
- Integrating genetics with the systematic biology of Ayurveda leveraging the big data. Apart from the phenotype, genotype and other information is strengthening innovation in the products.
So, my concluding comment on this is spat between Ayurveda and Allopathy is that it’s a lose-lose for both not just in India but internationally giving the Chinese Traditional Medicine a chance to grow its pie internationally. The win-win solution for both the sides is not to prove who is right or wrong on their claims and counter claims and defame both the systems of Medicine in India but to work out an integrative medicine solution between the two. Else we are heading down to the wire on a medical revolution like the Tale of Two Cities dictated by the consumers choice and preferences.