The setting up of the AAYUSH Ministry serves up a unique opportunity to push research into alternative forms of medicine and the re-discovery of our medical heritage.
If one tries to understand human physiology in its entirety, one wonders as to how we are able to survive despite ingesting so many chemicals into our systems in the name of “scientific” western medicine. Cutting edge research in western medicine (Genetics 2008; 179: 727) has clearly shown that when any chemical sold to us by western pharmacology goes into the human system, it is rejected at first, as being a foreign poison since it is not recognised by our system. The drug goes into the liver for destruction. The liver tries to do its best, but many a times some drug still remains and this gets into the general circulation, the so called first pass effect in pharmacology class. The teacher and the student simply memorise it for the examination, but rarely understand what it portends! Thus, the chemicals have the capacity to overwork and exhaust the liver and harm the system by adverse drug reactions (ADRs), which have become one of the leading causes of deaths in the West, where deaths are routinely audited. (JAMA 2000; 284: 483).
You might wonder as to how you get better if this is indeed so? We get better thanks to our own immune system that gets a shot in the arm when the mind accepts that the drug intervention will help, called the Placebo Effect (Sci. Translational Med 2011; 3: 70). The Placebo effect has been shown to be the cause of patients getting better even after complex procedures like coronary revascularisation; (J. Am. Coll Cardiol 2005; 46: 1812) this study concludes:
“Treatment with percutaneous myocardial laser revascularization provides no benefit beyond that of a similar sham procedure in patients blinded to their treatment status.”
The reductionism in western medicine understands the human system (physiology) as an “open systems biology” which needs outside intervention when anything goes wrong. This is good for the medi-business. That is how western medicine became a science in the first place (Flexner report 1910). Many, actually the majority, of our resident non-Indian (RNIs) doctors and lay people blindly believe that western medicine is the only scientific medicine and all other systems are pseudo-science. The truth is otherwise. Ever since the British took over the reins in our country, they systematically termed our ancient systems as unscientific.
The nation must salute our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for being able to see the importance of our ancient systems in sickness care. I congratulate him for creating a new Ministry for AAYUSH, which will have Department of Ayurveda and Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy. I hope Shripad Yesso Naik, the new Minister of State (with independent charge) for AAYUSH understands what these medical systems stand for and how scientific they are. Science is change and research (organised curiosity with a touch of logical scepticism) is the vehicle that takes knowledge forwards. “Knowledge advances NOT by repeating known things but by REFUTING false dogmas” wrote Karl Popper in the 1950s. The first dogma that needs to be demolished is that western medicine is pure science and all others are pseudo-science. The fact is otherwise.
In Ayurveda and all other complementary systems, the basic human physiology is a closed system. Closed system is one, which is capable of correcting itself in most, if not all, situations of disease, thanks to an inbuilt healer. The immune system is like a hot water Geyser that has an inbuilt thermostat. It is only in the unlikely event of the immune system failing that the patient gets symptoms, which cry for outside help. Then and only then should we interfere with our ancient drugs, most of which are derived from natural herbs to “cure rarely, comfort mostly but to console always.” The above-mentioned western scientific study (Genetics 2008; 179: 727) did demonstrate that holistic medicines are immediately recognised by the human system as self and are not treated as poison to be sent to the liver for destruction. This was applied to herbal Chinese and Indian drugs in that particular study, but did not hold true to other holistic systems as well. That is why the essence of Ayurveda is “Swasthasya Swastha Rakshitham”- try to preserve the health of the well. I have developed a “Wellness Concept” incorporating Yoga in it.
Panchakarma in Ayurveda is doing just that. Yoga adds to that by making the mind tranquil even under great stress.
Ayurveda should not follow the reductionist scientific research of the west. We have to work with herbal and other drugs in their whole state. For example, garlic, when eaten raw, mixes with salivary trypsin to convert its alanine into allicin, a powerful medicine useful in fighting diverse diseases. The garlic pills in the market, which are inside a capsule to be swallowed, do not get activated in the first place. In addition, a key chemical component of garlic is removed to avoid the bad smell, and as such, garlic pills are not garlic at all. There are 43 studies on garlic pills in western literature, showing that garlic is useless mainly because they were not studying garlic as a whole but a modified chemical with the SH group removed, which can only harm but not help. The British Medical Journal (BMJ)’s editorial said that “garlic is good for cooking but NOT for health.”
Homeopathy is the only western science that has been shown to have a very strong scientific base recently, and yet there is an effort to kill homeopathy in the West. I have written about it extensively elsewhere. Suffice it to say that it has a good scientific base, has minimal side effects and is useful in many minor illness syndromes like common cold, feverish cold, sore throat and Flu like illnesses. Siddha is another very useful system in India and so is Unani. Indian folk medicine has had a glorious past and needs scientific research to take it forward.
I wonder if the new Minister has an understanding of all these. I have written extensively about this elsewhere and have been doing so for four decades without anyone taking note. Now that the PM has opened a new pathway, we can move ahead for the good of India and the world. I wish the new Ministry the best.
“A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” - Max Planck
SBI, the country’s largest lender, has limited free transactions like ATM, net banking and branch banking, depending on the monthly average balance the customer maintain in her savings bank account. ‘Anywhere banking’ has already gone haywire, and with SBI taking lead, ‘Any time banking’ too will go for a toss
The days of free banking are getting over. As the saying goes, ‘there's no such thing as a free lunch’. It all began with the recent decision of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow banks to restrict the free usage of automated teller machines (ATMs) even to their own customers. This resulted, with many banks promptly deciding to charge for ATM transactions beyond the stipulated five transactions per month. RBI possibly overlooked the fact that ATMs have benefited banks more than their customers have because it helped banks to reach out to people at a much lesser cost than brick and mortar branches. This also helped banks to increase their current and savings accounts (CASA) deposits substantially and these are low cost funds for the banks.
Now, State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest lender has gone beyond charging for ATMs.
According to the new rules, even if you visit the SBI branch and withdraw cash from your account, you will have to pay a fee of Rs20 if your total debit transactions per month, excluding ATM withdrawals, exceed the number stipulated by the bank. It is not clear as to whether this would include all debit transactions including the electronic clearing system (ECS) debits routinely allowed in payment of electricity, water, gas and telephone bills as per the standing instructions of the customer as the rules are silent in this regard.
It does not end there. Even if you are tech-savvy and do not visit the branch, you are not spared. If you use the internet or the mobile banking route to do your banking transactions, you still will have to pay these charges, if your total debit transactions per month exceed the stipulated number of free transactions. In addition, these freebies are linked to the average balance you maintain in your savings bank account every month. The lower the average monthly balance in your account, lesser the free transactions you are entitled to.
All these charges are over and above many other charges payable by you for simply keeping your hard-earned money in savings account with a bank. These additional charges include annual fees for ATM-cum debit card, fees for cheque leaves beyond a certain number, joining and annual fee for credit card, and most of the banks even charge for sending SMSs for transactions alert conducted in your account.
SBI, the state-run lender, has since revised charges for all type of transactions in the saving bank (SB) accounts of all their customers from 1 November 2014. They have categorized the customers according to balance maintained in the accounts and allowed free transactions according to their loyalty to the bank. Even if you have a few lakhs in fixed deposit with the bank, it makes no difference, as what matters is the balance kept in your SB account, where you get an interest of only 4% per annum at present.
The only exception to the rule is that if you maintain a minimum average monthly balance of over Rs1 lakh in your savings account, you are eligible for unlimited free transactions under all types of banking operations.
To minimize your visits to the branch, another attraction is that if you do not visit the branch during a month, you are eligible for nine free transactions at SBI Group ATMs, i.e. one way interchangeability is allowed between branch transaction and their own ATMs. If you are banking with SBI, have a look at the table below, take your pick and decide where you want to be.
With the lead given by SBI, all other banks are bound to follow suit, and then banking will change forever from mass banking to class banking with all its ramifications. ‘Anywhere banking’ has already gone haywire, and now ‘Any time banking’ too will go for a toss. However, it does not appear to be the right time for these changes. Last week, Dr Raghuram Rajan, the Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said, “it is important to inculcate savings habit – the financial management habit among people so that they can handle money.” The moot question, therefore, that begs an answer is, Have these restrictive practices come much ahead of their time?
(The author is a banking analyst and he writes for Moneylife under a pen name ‘Gurpur’)
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