AYUSH Secy said those who don't know Hindi can leave national meet: Doctors

AYUSH secretary Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha was addressing a three-day workshop for naturopathy doctors.
AYUSH Secretary Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha
AYUSH Secretary Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha

An online conference conducted by the Centre for doctors across the country has led to controversy after the union AYUSH secretary Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha said he would not speak in English and told those who don't understand Hindi to leave the video call. This 'insulting' behaviour from the secretary, according to naturopathy doctors from Tamil Nadu who participated in the conference, was a continuation of a discriminatory and badly-organised event that lasted three days, they said.

Thirty-seven government hospital doctors participated in this conference from Tamil Nadu, which had over 300 participants in total. The event which was held between August 18 and August 20 was organised by the Ministry of AYUSH and Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga for Master Trainers of Yoga. Each day, according to doctors who attended the session, had six sessions to cover various aspects of naturopathy and Yoga.

"But from the very first day, at least four sessions were held in Hindi. Some speakers tried to be bilingual and translate things in English as well but the conclusion was always in Hindi. This was very difficult for us to understand. We were constantly raising this issue," says a doctor who attended the conference.

In an address by the AYUSH secretary, however, the matter escalated.  The secretary began his speech in Hindi, stating that, “I want to congratulate people who have taken the time to attend this event in the past two days. I have got information that, for the past two days, there has been an issue…people can leave…I don't speak English very well. So, I will speak in Hindi.” A video of the address was released as well. 

His statement came after multiple doctors from Tamil Nadu sent messages on the chat asking that he speak in English.

"This was a national conference and it is only natural that we expect it to be in a language everyone understands," says a doctor, who also sent a message to the Union secretary on chat. "But despite us asking he continued in Hindi and then even told us to leave the conference if we can't follow. Isn't this very insulting?" he asks.

In addition to this, doctors who attended the conference tell TNM that the trainers and speakers were not qualified enough to hold sessions for professionals who have completed a Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yogic science course.

"Some of the speakers were saying scientifically incorrect things and they didn't let us ask any questions about this. Then they had godmen come to take sessions on Yoga and Bhagavad Gita. We are all well versed with the text and this is not what we came to learn in these sessions. There was no takeaway at all," says the doctor.

And when questions were raised over why Yoga and Naturopathy were separated in the sessions conducted, participants were allegedly chastised.

"If we see Yoga without the lens of science, it becomes a religious act. When we questioned this, they would mute us and tell us we can't take part if this line of questioning continued," explains the participant.

The doctors have now written a formal letter of complaint to the Ministry of AYUSH flagging quality issues in training and discrimination for not knowing Hindi. The state government too has asked doctors to give them feedback on the session, which will be filed as a report.

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