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Homeopathy as Ideology

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Criticism of the bullet train project shows our fear of scale is like mass hypochondria, where we fear real medicine and drift on with dainty, sweet, ineffectual pills.

Homeopathy, a relatively modern therapy, was invented in Germany by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. It’s been hailed, questioned, researched, rejected and mocked as a pseudoscience in developed countries since.

Only in India is it still a mainstream therapy. Every city, big or small, has its homeopaths and usually a most trusted one called “Dr Banerji”. The fad is nearly dead in its homeland, Germany. In India, it thrives and also gets sizeable Central government funding. The ‘H’ in the ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) stands for homeopathy. It is dangerous in our country to make fun of it. I bet some abuse and outrage is on my way already for coming this far.

There has to be a reason why Indians so adore homeopathy. Is it because it was designed for the pucca hypochondriac? At the first whiff of a health doubt, you start chewing those sugary, spirit-flavoured pills, often for months. You feel no effect of the drug, but in the course of time, you might believe you are better, even cured, and apparently with no side effects. Any stronger medicine, surgery, we dread.

A picture of Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of ThePrintAre we then a country with a homeopathic state of mind? Just that it seems to pervade our thinking in other areas too. Especially governance, and more specifically infrastructure-building. Do it in small, harmless doses, nothing bitter, sharp or bloody.

You have to mention a project of any size and a million jump at your throats predicting apocalypse. The foundation stone laying ceremony of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe this week evoked many such responses. Most emphatic was from the Congress party’s erudite lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Shah Jahan’s Taj Mahal, he said, left India in economic ruin, famines and starvation. The bullet train will run, he added, but the rest you can imagine. Immediately, in fact, I would now worry for New Delhi’s Shahjahan Road.

More such came from elsewhere: can India afford this, is it sustainable, will it make economic sense and, the criticism made with the greatest passion, that a country could not afford such a toy when it had 17,000 unmanned crossings and trains were derailing. Never mind that the same people would then complain that the top average speed of our trains hadn’t changed much since 1971, which is a fact.

Most interesting is the economic argument, that with air tickets so cheap, who’d pay for the bullet train. This totally discounts the fact that the only reason air fares have fallen is that privatisation increased capacity and supply. Changing aviation from an embarrassingly incompetent and expensive state monopoly to free markets has been a bold and successful reform. It has led to a spectacular democratisation of air travel. By the way, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport had again, in 2013, opposed plans to privatise six other major airports. Speaking on its behalf, now CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury had said, “we’re totally against privatisation and transfer of assets to private entities”.

Criticism of bullet trains by the same lot now conveniently presumes airfares will never rise and bullet train fares won’t fall, with economies of scale. Nor would they lead to a boom in land values and urbanisation. Or, that the real, virtuous switch may be from carbon-spewing cars on the highways. Stay within your means. Even the softest 50-year debt could ruin our future. It means nothing to the crores of our poor commuters and therefore a moral hazard.

This farce plays out whenever a project of scale is planned. The outrage, when E. Sreedharan began building the Konkan Railway and Nitin Gadkari as a young transport minister in Maharashtra (1995-99 when he was 38) planned the Mumbai-Pune expressway was similar. It will devastate the environment and government finances. Now you can’t imagine a world without it. And one of India’s first, albeit short BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer) expressways, is the inspiration for a mass highway-building campaign nationwide. Toll fully pays for the project. Yet, the real benefit has come elsewhere. The expressway has made Pune, a metro-sized sibling for saturated and tired Mumbai, and a magnet for IT/innovation/new economy. It has generated tens of billions of dollars of wealth. Konkan Railway is the pride of India and the lifeline of Marxist Kerala.

In the past, it was the Planning Commission that ensured any notion of scale and ambition was squashed before it could get off the file stage. There’s a real (not apocryphal) story of Yojana Bhawan dissing the Maruti project as a pipedream as their “projections” showed Indians buying no more than 50,000 cars per year. Hindustan Motors and Premier were already providing these, so why Maruti? It was wisely overruled. Today, India is a global automobile power. In fiscal 2016-17, it bought more than 30 lakh and exported 7.5 lakh passenger vehicles.

Check out the debate over the privatisation of big metro airports. Besides the usual Leftist mass-mourning over privatisation of state “assets” and thereby disembowelling their unions, there was talk of feasibility, over-capacity, scarce-resources. Today, Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru are already overcrowded and furiously expanding. Our aviation boom –and rock-bottom air fares – would not have happened without these. Even the Aerocity, the new hospitality district near Delhi airport, dismissed as a white elephant, is buzzing. The utterly idiotic CAG report on Delhi airport privatisation, which made a buzz, has faded away. Many similar arguments were used when the Delhi Metro was planned. Today, 11 cities are building metros and Delhi is completing its fourth phase. Footnote: transport expert and IIT professor Dinesh Mohan had said in 2002: “I don’t think the Metro will be able to survive till 2021 when all 5 phases are completed.”

There are also instances where the minimalists, or the homeopaths won. Mumbai’s sea-link was abandoned one-third built, just from Bandra to Worli, dumping Versova-Bandra and then Worli-Chowpatty that would have become its north-south jugular. New options have been caught in analysis-paralysis. In Delhi, the elevated east-west Barapulla corridor (caught in Commonwealth Games maelstrom) stopped halfway as the government lost the nerve to finish it. It is being taken westwards again now, seven years later, to realise its full potential.

Which brings us to that living showpiece of Indian mis-governance, the capital’s Rao Tula Ram strip which was built as a two-lane bottleneck connecting the ends of an eight-lane highway to the Delhi airport. One excuse was to save money as ” traffic projections” didn’t justify it. An unspoken reason also was that one particular privileged and powerful caste group, fronted by former President R. Venkataraman, also got a promise from the government, on the fear of the Lord, not to disturb the rock on which their popular Swami Malai Mandir was built. Within a few years now, it’s being rebuilt and expanded.

The Delhi-Jaipur and Delhi-Amritsar sections of national highways are being six-laned when four-laning had barely ended. The 8-lane Delhi-Gurgaon expressway was choked even before it was completed and government “planners” had rejected the idea that it be built with 12-lanes instead. The result is, all our infrastructure is constantly under construction. Planned on a lower scale, for creating shortages, and then expanded at added cost.

Planning by homeopathy therefore, isn’t harmless. It only makes the disease worse. The best thing about the bullet train is that the Japanese will control the project and the money. And whatever your quibbles with the Modi government, even its obsession with gigantism of statues, you can’t say that it has the chronic Indian fear of scale and speed. It’s another matter that it has enhanced its sarkari commitment to homeopathy.

Also Read: National Interest: Babuji dheere chalna – published on 18 July, 2009

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  1. hippocrates 460_377 BC known as father of western medicine said let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.alternative medicines curative power is a subject of great controversy and as convincing answers are not readily available public is mostly following modern medicine has to work himself to find some workable clues, encognitive dot com is dedicated site to answer about food items related natural cure stratigies.we are deploying all our resources on clinical tests and ignoring tests on food items available as to their nutrition value esp of milk.

  2. all questions about homeopathy are answered by novella saine one must go through pdfs and post debate question answers.aurum homeo dose clears neuritis of high status persons when they fail,fall from highest high is more painful than a fall from lower height,serious questions need serious answers and homeopathy if was farce ought to have finished from sight by now,it survives.

  3. Homeopathic effect was there from many years before independence and after, till now no one spoken or written against this the people who take these homeopathy as ideology take for instance mrs. Indira Gandhi ideology during 1970, that lady just divided one whole nation to many states then followed the rule divide and rule followed by Rivers where each state wants their own waters to flow into their own, till now this is going on,…. as far as i personally remember towards 1973 or 1975 there was an offer from the Russian government to link all rivers from Ganges to all the Rivers till the end edge of Hindustan like they did to Volga river which extended to end of Russian continent for Rs. 15,ooo. Crores only but our lady macbeath never allowed this to happen she did not want to Improve Hindustan GREAT IDEOLOGY

  4. It was some sort of contentment coming across your site the other day. I got here today hoping to find out new things. I was not dissatisfied. Your ideas upon different tactics on this topic were enlightening and a wonderful help to me. Much gratitude for leaving out time to create these things as well as for sharing your opinions.

  5. The general population is incapable of describing how and why Homeopathy works much like they are incapable of understanding the long proven Quantum Theory. The people in the West have been well propagandized with Allopathic drugs and surgery as the only healthcare system that matters or works. They ridicule everything else. The last thing big pharma wants you to know is that the placebo effect in clinical trials is often the winner. They also manipulate the success results of cancer treatments to make themselves look good. If you survived cancer treatment and then died on the 6th year, they will only count to 5 years to claim success. They’ve lobbied to outlaw even things like the now accepted Chiropractics and Acupuncture and I will remind you that the same arrogant bunch used to bleed people in the old days. I hate to think of what they have to say about Rife and other energy medicines or devices like the SCENAR! That will probably really push them over the edge!

  6. Mr.Shekar Gupta,
    Please do stop spreading wrong things without knowing fully about it. It is a dangerous attitude as a person & being a journalist it’s a very harming thing for the society.
    Republishing in a well known magazine is like strengthening the wrong idea about public. Please be responsible towards the society.

  7. The article is excellent and quite unexpected coming from Mr Shekhar Gupta.
    My only disconnect is with homeopathy as described by him. I was born with an ear defect – pus used to come. No allopathic treatment was available and operation was not a sure cure – my grandfather was a surgeon and was an FRCS. I was not allowed to swim.
    At the age of 9 an homeopathic doctor gave me one medicine for 30 days and I was cured. Since then till now, some 55 years later, despite swimming extensively no recurrence.
    Hence I can never accept that homeopathy is all hocus pocus.

  8. Dear Sir,
    I’m sure you are a well known man of the “press”, however, even that does not allow you to comment on topics without having knowledge of it, which to say is basic logic.
    Homoeopathically treated cases, that have been documented so well, as to show cure have found ridicule with minds like yours ( but with medical degrees) and the explanation given is very commonly placebo effect, or natural regression even “magic”( this is a true comment by a well known neurologist). When a disease like psoriasis, vitiligo (incurable according to textbook of medicine, which you may not know of)etc are seen to be cured, by a homoeopath, and they are labelled placebo effect or natural regression, then a fundamental question arises, are all those homoeopaths that lucky to have been visited so?? It takes only luck for all “hypochondriacs”( according to your article) to accumulate at Homoeopathy clinics.
    That scenario so produced, sounds absurd, it would to anyone.
    Many allopathic Drs( with good practice, and hatred towards Homoeopathy), have turned to Homoeopathy, do you really feel them to be hysterical? Many surgeons use Thuja ( Homoeopathic remedy) for warts, do you believe it’s to treat with placebo therapy?
    Please stay well informed to have sound views. Try to experience Homoeopathy, because science still has to wait a couple of centuries to find an explanation.
    I hope you understand, at the least, my elaborate reply, let alone Homoeopathy.

    Dr Mohinaz Kandolkar

  9. Dear Shekhar Guptaji,

    Today your article we read in Sakal, Marathi News Paper, translated by Swapnil Jogi.

    Your article can end up killing few cardiac patients who are being successfully treated with Homoeopathy. The cause of death may be shock of taking “ineffectual treatment”- the one in fact was proving effective for them.

    Also many would be beneficiaries of the Homoeopathic treatment may get dissuade sheerly by utter negativity about Homoeopathy that is seen through your article. Wouldn’t you feel bad that would be beneficiaries would loose opportunity to get better by your negative publicity founded on half data?

    Your this one article on Homoeopathy that you have written needs further data about what is positive in Homoeopathy.
    If you are seeker of truth, and I believe you are, then you need to invite cases of efficacy of Homoeopathy and judge from the kind of response in positively treated cases that are beyond usual doubt of placebo effects. If you wish, i can send you such cases of Men and Animals and they would give sure evidence of positive therapeutic effects of Homoeopathy.

    My mobile number is 9022165333/9326665333

  10. This shows some people in our society have very negative mentality ,and the writer of artical shows his childish and immature , irresponsible , journalism, such person who can coment like this is totally out of his senses , he should apologize to entire homoeopathic practitioner, patients and of government also , for spreading such baseless things in society about great science and art of human being.

  11. A delightful factual account of our mindless protest by professional protesters. Almost every protest of large projects done in the name of India’s poor and how the money could be better spent for them rather in the project. But the mass, poor or reach rarely protest against such projects, thankfully. The best way Govt should respond is to ignore such manufactured and motivated protest. Other big risk factor is PIL and their proponents. This class of professional protesters are more dangerous since they have the capacity to influence court and delay the project or may even get the courts to order closure. In the context of bullet train, I remember these homeopathy lovers also protested in the name of poor in mid eighties when Rajiv govt. introduced color telecast in India!

  12. Shekhar Gupta sir u wrote a nice article we homoeopath thanks u. Thanks to u that u write something about homeopathy either its criticize. Homeopathy got second position in india offcourse Allopathic first. But unani, ayurveda, herbal medicine are older than homoeopath years. Ayurveda get fame after marketing by Patanjali and some authors tv anchor like u give ayurveda fame. Ayurveda is most older science homeopathy derived from it. The principle of homeopathy similia,similibus currentur derived from ayurveda. But now a day ayurveda is not accepted all over world. U r talking about bullet train why didn’t u talk about steam engine. Say bullet train is very harmful for ecosystem we should use bullockcart instead of it. It is eco-friendly good for environment. Homeopathy is a modern science and art. For understanding criticizing homeopathy u must should know about the nature, ayurveda, unani, Allopathic, yoga, siddha. Then u will understand homeopathy. This is the nature of this world that if u can’t understand anything criticize it. Pardon me if my any word hurt u what I understand about homoeopathic I told u.

  13. Shekhar Gupta has only given examples of other now famous infra projects that were opposed initially, but has given no specific justification for or the benefits flowing out of this chest thumping extravaganza of high speed rail project. It is this fallacy: “All big projects were opposed initially but proved their worth subsequently. This big project of high speed trains is opposed now and therefore logically it is bound to be a resounding boon later”. In a country where thousands of basic amenities in every sector are crying for scarce funds, even Rs.20000 crore that India is required to dump into this guzzler of a project initially (at current estimates) appears a burden for chasing this mirage of a miracle project. He hopes that there will be benefit of scale of economy. So how many more such projects would be funded by Japan to give us this benefit of scale, sir? Our PM dreams grand projects perhaps dreaming that these would project a grand Him. Apart from this I just can’t see any benefit from this project for a few generations to come.

  14. Senior journalist shouldn’t do such comments unless u know everything about homoeopathy. It seems he relates political issue with homoeopathy and its laws but his interpretation is completely wrong. He is challenging principles of homoeopathy without knowledge. I think he is doing only for popularity purpose. He is completely misguided soul . Get well soon

  15. Mr Shekhar Gupta each and every pathy have a scope and limitations and u told about Homoeopathy is a art and science.According to WHO is a 2 largest pathy in world Mr Gupta think always positive because u r journalist.Thanks for your Negative cooperation about Homoeopathy.?

  16. I have a 1 year old patient who got better in 6 months for his skin complaints…is it placebo effect?? First learn about Homoeopathy Sir. Some people need scientific explanation for everything. When we get born we are given a name after some rituals and also in marriage we perform some rituals, do they have in scientific explanation?? Homoeopathy is science , first go through it and then see yourself what it is actually. No offense to anybody.

  17. Have u gone through any homoeopathic treatment….how can u blame this pathy like this.u can blame irresponsible doctors but not homoeopathy.

  18. The nation has had giant dams like Bhakra and Hirakud , Rajasthan Canal , Atomic Energy , Numerous giant I.T. and IT-related companies , network of flyover in many of our metropolises and so on and so forth ! The list is long ! Unfortunately , the speed and frequency with which such development has taken place in upgrading our infrastructure has been meagre vis-a-vis the requirement as per our huge population ! Also , our inherent style of corruption too has dug into the quality of workmanship to be of lesser than required standards ! Imagine the infrastructure being what we have built so far but our population was equal to that of any one of the developed countries of the world today ! In that case we would have had more than adequate such facilities for that size of population !

  19. Why should the writer link bullet train with homeopathy. Many a times it works as a wonder , though it may not cure. Let the writer confine his thoughts to main point of bullet train.

  20. Excellent article. I have even heard people complain that Japan has negative interest rate so why are we being asked to pay sub-1%. We need to be pulled up by our collars and jump through levels of development instead of following the west.

  21. You may be knowing mega,giga projects.But , sorry you don’t know ABC of homeopathy. I always use homeopathy and never used Allopathic drugs for last 30 yrs.My age is 60 yrs.
    Allopathy like soft drinks are killing people. And these facts cannot be suppressed for long. Listen Padma bhusan Dr BM Hegde on U Tube.

  22. Outstanding piece… if only we give up patchy approach and chase newer ideas , India’s story can be something we all want to see. Funny thing is we expect transformational results after doing patchwork.Thinking and doing being are abhorred and that is what stops us..

  23. This is a ridiculous argument to come from Gupta. A bullet train is not a new or a radical technology. So please stop equating this as some kind of a Edison’s bulb moment. It is not. By April 2029 we are looking at the entry of AI in a big way into our lives and industries. Much of the “jobs” you think this project expects to create will not even exist then. So if there is anything that is radical, new etc now that is AI/Hyperloop/3D printing in Construction etc. These are things that China/Russia etc are investing in, heavily.
    Bullet Train is so old school. Which is why no country is buying it. It is so 2007!
    And it is your absolute ignorance about technology that makes you say this.

    Two – the questions being raised about bullet trains are specific. (1) Why do we need it and who will travel in it? – When flights from Ahmbd to Mumbai are costing you less than 2k and when 1AC rates are more than flight rates, it is baffling who this will target. Look at JICA’s presentations. They say they will charge the fares at more than flights and less than 1st AC. It is a ridiculous argument because that is mathematically not possible at the current rates! (2) Who keeps the revenue for first 15 years? Clearly Japan. So they earn more than what they would have earned by giving a loan at an interest of 4%. So this “Japan is doing it for free” is a stupid argument and thanks to lack of investigative journalism – no one’s talking about it. (3) The argument that Surat, Valsad etc will benefit is bull. I was in Silvassa only 2 weeks ago. SMEs and MMEs there are dead. After DeMo and GST. Most of them are unable to come back and what we are preparing for in Vapi, Valsad etc are huge industrial corridors at the cost of SMEs. Even for those people bullet trains are not cost effective. (4) Another bull is this- bullet train technology will revolutionise travel and create a new set of OEMs. Seriously? Are you kidding me? When was the last time you looked at innovations in travel dude? The idea of OEM’s itself is dying man. AI is killing it all. It is taking back all these OEM and outsourced jobs. Adidas is printing in first shoe coming January, and that factory mind you is not in Asia. It is in Germany itself. A bunch of oldies who are amused by how FB revolutionised their lives claim bullet trains to be innovations. Nobody else.

    This project is to satisfy one man’s ego. An idea that he thought up in 2007. and this idea is so 2007!
    To sit in 2017 and then say we fear new technology is stupid.
    This is not your 80’s or 90’s. No one fears new tech. And bullet train is not new technology boss.
    It is a meaningless “innovation” – just for the heck of innovating!

  24. Dear Shekar Gupta, you are a journalist of exceptional connect and wisdom. Someone the moderate India wants to see more of on TV. Continue to inspire us.

  25. In my humble opinion , it will be much better for Govt to privatise the colonial era Railways to unleash it full potential like that of air travel !
    Sugary Homeopathy medicine is also very strong and can cause irreversible damage to the body if a wrong medicine or wrong dose is ingested ! Bullet train appears to be like a wrong homeopathic medicine in wrong dosage for our country !!!

  26. Don’t just post negative comments on something without a deep interrogation of the subject.. Please go through the Subject books once..

    • This is what I wished to comment on Mr.Akhil. Before uttering a negative comment on something one must possess thorough knowledge about it. Totally absurd. Right to express is totally misused. A powerful tool like media is spreading wrong things means it should be condemned severely. Publishing this in a top magazine is like highlightening the wrong thing. Publishers & the author must be careful hereafter to avoid such baseless publishings.

  27. It is not justified to brand Homoeopathy as just trash. I have first hand experience of certain homoeopathic drugs on cattle. They do work and quite miraculously. Homoeopathic medicines are very effective in mastitis. Allopathic medicines have failed in completely curing blood in milk and hardness of udder. Three veterinary doctors failed. Homoeopathic medicines, Phytolacca, Bryona, Belladonna, Calcaeria fluoricum, Ipecac have completely cured the problem. One cow was being treated with allopathic medicine for certain pathogens. The cow developed acute constipation and lack of appetite. Treatment for 21 days failed to yield any result. Four doses of Nux Vomica 30 was administered hourly. By evening, the cow passed normal dung and appetite was also restored. I have tried so many medicines myself and they work instantaneously on cattle. The most important thing is Homoepathy cures without any simultaneous decrease in milk yield.
    In the rural areas, where there is lack of hygiene, we come across cases of scabies in small children. We had to use allopathic scabiol on the affected part and use a special soap costing INR 70 plus. It took days, even weeks to get rid of the problem. Recently, I used the homoeopathic Anthrakokila (probably, the 6th or the 12th potency). It was completely gone in a week. A miracle…I will have to wait and see if it works equally on other cases of Scabies.
    What is equally important is homoeopathic treatment is very cheap compared to allopathic treatment.

  28. Quite an interesting way to present the typical resistance one finds in India to change particularly at ‘scale’. Yet what I find is the smallness of the scale in rolling out the bullet train. Why not between Delhi and Mumbai for example? Second, why is it between Mumbai and Ahmedabad? Many union ministers fall to the common and expected proclivity to look after their states and I hoped someone like NAMO to be beyond this affliction. He should have planned for something really of scale as a challenge or else atleast start a Chennai – Benguluru bullet train! The cascading positive effect of bullet trains on the local state economies and in the country is indeed substantial.

  29. Most nonsensical, illogical and baseless accumulation of phrases and clauses….. Irrelevant beginning and highly ignorant and immature outlook of the journalist got visible…….

    • Absolutely correct reaction. Sekhar Gupta has lost the plot and logic on this one, and many such issues off late.

    • I totally agree mam. That too from a journalist.. who are expected to be responsible & neutral towards social issues.. can’t be welcomed…

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