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Gospel over scalpel? IMA chief seems to prefer missionary position over medicine

Author: Abhijit Majumder
Publication: Firstpost.com
Date: March 31, 2021
URL:   https://www.firstpost.com/india/gospel-over-scalpel-ima-chief-seems-to-prefer-missionary-position-over-medicine-9484511.html/amp?__twitter_impression=true&s=03

Dr Jayalal has been at the forefront of protests to integrate Indian medical systems with western allopathic healing

His name is Dr Johnrose Austin Jayalal. He heads the Indian Medical Association, the best-known guild of doctors in the country.

But from his latest actions and utterances, it seems when he walks in with his scalpel, and his patients have much to save, particularly their faith and identity.

Dr Jayalal has been at the forefront of protests against the Narendra Modi government’s decision to integrate Indian medical systems like Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, homoeopathy, yoga and naturopathy with western allopathic healing.

This annoys Dr Jayalal no end. For him, a healthy mix of allopathy and Christianity should suffice. He considers Indian healing systems deeply inferior.

“The most common system is modern medicine based on scientific evidence. The government of India, because of their cultural value and traditional belief in the Hindutva, believes in a system called Ayurveda,” he said in a recent interview with Christianity Today

“For the last three or four years, they have tried to replace modern medicine with this. Now, you will have to study this alongside Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, homoeopathy, yoga, and naturopathy.”

The devout doctor’s grouse seems to be with Hinduness.

“They want to make it one nation, one system of medicine. Next, they will want to make it one religion. This is also based on the Sanskrit language, which is always traditionally based on the Hindu principles. This is an indirect way for the government to introduce the language of Sanskrit and language of Hindutva into the minds of the people,” he said in the interview.

“I am able to see, even amid persecution, even amid difficulties, even amid the control by the government, even among the restrictions we face in openly proclaiming the message, by various means and ways, Christianity is growing.”

He is steadfast in his mission. “As the leader of the Indian Medical Association, I need to continue filings against the government. We have organised various demonstrations and protests. In the last 14 days, I have organised a hunger strike across the country, and most of our modern medical doctors have participated. But at the moment, I am also seeking the wisdom and guidance of God Almighty about what I will do in this difficult time.”

It looks like for Dr Jayalal, the only syncretism that passes muster with medicine is Christianity. And that takes him to murkier and more dangerous territory of proselytising at secular spaces like hospitals.

“My primary concern when I work as a Christian doctor is to ensure that I have time to talk about the mental well-being and spiritual healing of the person. We need more Christian doctors to work more in secular institutions, mission institutions, and medical colleges,” he said.

“I am working as a professor of surgery in a medical college, so it is also a good opportunity for me to carry on the principles of Christian healing there. I also have the privilege of mentoring graduates and the interns,” he added.

Discarding the efforts by the government or secular, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist or Jain NGOs, Dr Jayalal believes it is only Christianity that came as the saviour of the Indian poor during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The majority of people who got sick were from the middle or top socioeconomic statuses. The people on the lower level — yes, it was a problem, but most of the time it’s really the churches who were taking care of them. The government has not come forward to support them,” he told Christianity Today.

In a bizarre defence, Jayalal said in a release under the IMA banner that he had been quoted out of context in the interview. Begs reason how one can be quoted out of context in an interview published in the question-and-answer format.

If Jayalal restricted himself to being a zealous pastor or an exploring evangelist, the problem would be limited. That he heads a very large and respected association of doctors and hides behind that exalted role to sneak in his bigotry is dubious and problematic.

It also casts serious doubt on his agenda to stop the integration of ancient and time-tested Indian cure systems, many of which like yoga and Ayurveda are immensely popular the world over. With such bias, one wonders if he is fit to objectively treat every patient, leave aside head a national medical body.


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