Among the things I like about Narendra Modi is that he makes his critics’ worst fears come true. He, in fact, tricks them by hinting at a change of heart, and as the hearts warm, he gives them the cold shoulder. His critics cried hoarse about how the saffron surge meant the return of the jaded. Modi dumped the old and brought in a team that was younger, livelier and more committed to ideas that are jaded. He disappoints them; then gives them hope, only to disappoint them again. That’s the mark of a politician.
He made a doctor the health minister. A lawyer the law minister. Even his critics couldn’t find fault with them. No, nyet, nein, nada. Then he replaced the law-knowing law minister with a Gowda-knows-what-knowing rail minister who he replaced with a chartered accountant. In that same reshuffle, he replaced the medicine man health minister with a man with a fetish for homeopathy. And critics went Oh My Gowda! No, nyet, nein, Nadda!
Homeopathy is a science of faith. People have faith in Modi. BJP is charged with believing in politics of faith of a certain shade. India itself is a nation of the faithful: that is why following and propagating one’s faith is a fundamental right in the Constitution and promoting a scientific temperament is just a fundamental duty. We are a nation that calls chicken pox "mataji". We do not have a discriminating, patriarchal bully of a disease to call "pitaji" yet; but have faith, we will spot one soon.
Because faith works miracles; and that’s what we all need. What has reason and science given us apart from mobile phones, TVs, high-rises, coffee-machines, vehicles, high-speed trains, water purifiers, computers, cars, airplanes, life-saving drugs and a possible cure for cancer? Now, look at what faith has given us: gods of all kinds, temples, mosques, communal riots, sati, magic, babas, sadhus, mullahs, priests, dishonesty and homeopathy.
So, when JP Nadda became the health minister, it came as good news. Here was a man, who believed Himachal should have a homeopathic university, in charge of medical science. And the department that allocates hundreds of crores of rupees for the promotion of homeopathy was under some Goan called Sripad Naik. Homeopathy requires you to have faith in the doctor. The medicine, most agree, is a placebo that encourages your immune system to fight the disease.
I admire the placebo effect, where without taking any medicine, you think you are taking a medicine and feel better. It’s almost like our politics. No wonder our politicians love Hahnemann’s system of sugar pills. Who likes bitter pills? You announce a pleasant populist policy, and people already start feeling better. It is the safest method to rule, and nobody knows it better than the Congress party, which has made generous allocations (over Rs 100 crore per year) to the propagation of homeopathy. Did you know that the Delhi University has a homeopathy faculty? I mean what do they teach there? How to dilute a perfectly working drop of medicinal value to eternity and leave no trace of medicine in the medicine?
Since homeopathic medicine contains no medicine at all, it has no side-effects. It has no effect either, but would you like a medicine to leave you with nausea and a feeling of drowsiness? Homeopathy has been proven as a fraud in modern scientific tests; but then, these people also call our beloved Asaram Bapu a fraud. Science invented cameras to expose Sathya Sai Baba, who was passing off magic tricks as miracles. Such contraptions are western inventions only to discredit our ancient knowledge.
I can show you thousands of people who have been cured by homeopathy. I can also show you thousands who have been cured by "jhaad-phoonk" in remote villages with no medical facility. Our healthcare infrastructure is so poor that the poor end up in the hands of Baba Bangalis who utter some abracadabra, and lo, the patient is cured. My wife gave me a taveez (amulet) for good health. I refused to wear it because it defies reason as to how an amulet can guard you against possible diseases. In two days, I was down with a viral infection. She had a taveez on; and both the amulets connected and voilà, she had viral too. The power of the "ganda-taveez."
Dr Harsh Vardhan was cracking down on the tobacco lobby, thus attempting to kill a revenue source, which made no sense at all. Later, he started making sense. When word got to him that he shouldn’t get too adventurous, he even tried to mend his ways. He finalised a draft of bill that would authorise homeopathic doctors to perform abortions. Since midwives were allowed to deliver a child, they should be allowed to abort one as well. That sounded illogical enough for him to retain his ministry. But qualifications do matter. He was qualified to be the health minister, so he had to give up. Nadda will bring in holistic systems that will integrate homeopathic faith into medical science. That’s as holistic as it gets. Please note the spelling of "as" and the space after it.