Health Minister Harsh Vardhan's preferences for yoga over sex education in schools and fidelity over the use of condoms to prevent AIDS are not the only indication that he believes in the age-old ways.
Several statements by Vardhan on his website show that he believes in tradition and culture over modern systems. Here is a list -
The Health Minister is facing a lot of flak over a statement in his education policy for Delhi schools. In the curriculum development section, he says: "'So-called sex education' to be banned. Yoga to be made compulsory."
Vardhan found himself in a controversy when he was reported as putting values over condoms as a means of preventing AIDS.
"Condoms promise safe sex, but the safest sex is through faithfulness to one's partner. Prevention is always better than cure," Vardhan had told the New York Times. "The thrust of the AIDS campaign should not only be on the use of condoms. This sends the wrong message that you can have any kind of illicit sexual relationship, but as long as you're using a condom, it's fine."
Vardhan trumped "so called modern medicine" for "ancient wisdom" in his Healthcare Vision statement that said:
"Thousands of years ago our sages expanded and propagated a holistic vision of health enunciating a concept of health well beyond physical, mental and social well-being to embody emotional and spiritual well-being. Modern scientists have failed to appreciate that our noble fore-fathers with far less material possessions could generate energy and vitality to protect their physical and mental health by practicing spirituality whereas the people of developed and rich countries these days remain highly stressed and in poor health despite much affluence and wealth."
"Our health planners overlooked the age-old Indian wisdom to promote borrowed ideas and promoted only one system of medicine, the so-called modern medicine, which itself has failed to ensure availability of healthcare to everyone in most affluent nations despite a whopping increase in health sector spending."
"Their (forefathers') biggest observation was that vegetarian food consumption is associated with a longer life and lesser affliction by degenerative diseases. This fact is now universally accepted and even scientists approve of it. The recent data indicating that red meat consumption is associated with higher incidence of heart disease and cancer goes to support their observation."
"People may be persuaded to consume a balanced, nutritive and vegetarian diet as recommended by our ancestors (Hit Bhug, Mit Bhug, Kal Bhug; Eating what is beneficial, in small quantity and at proper time), paying attention to food and kitchen sanitation, hygiene practiced by the cook and disposing off the wastes properly, offering leftovers to other living creatures, worshipping plants and trees, showing care and compassion to one and all as advocated in our scriptures."
"A new and integrated holistic system of medicine is the need of the hour, which should incorporate the best of all systems including Ayurveda, Siddha, Yoga, Naturopathy, Homeopathy and our other ancient systems."
"In the medical curriculum, for the first few years, all systems such as Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Naturopathy may be taught and at the end of this term students can choose whichever option they like. We cannot afford to ignore the wisdom and sayings of our great ancestors who selflessly served the mankind and handed down to us a code of conduct on nutrition, daily habits, spirituality and strengthening the moral values to delay and forestall onset of ageing and illness."
"A total attitudinal transformation of people in thought, action and belief based on our ancient culture is required to make health a meaningful and purposeful concept."
"The herbal medicines, their cultivation and export are another important area that needs to be promoted. These have provided relief to people in India for thousands of years. Such a policy of promotion would generate earnings, employment and would provide affordable alternative treatment to those who are unable to access modern healthcare facilities."
He cited "herbal revolution" as one of his visions for health that reads - "Preserving and promoting cultivation and utilization of medicinal herbs and plants through herbal revolution."
He also suggested the idea of appointing a separate minister to promote Indian medicine. "Separate minister for Indian and other systems of medicine targeting positive health promotion."