The change has left the Indian medical fraternity and the public fuming.
After the Union government ordered the renaming of Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres to “Ayushman Arogya Mandir”, India’s apex scientific body, the National Medical Commission, replaced the Ashoka Emblem in its logo with an image of a seemingly Hindu deity.
On Thursday, 30 November, India’s medical fraternity was shocked to see the prestigious State Emblem — an adaptation of the Lion Capital of Ashoka — of the country replaced with the picture of a Hindu God on the NMC’s website.
This move, seen by many as an affront to the secular principles enshrined in the Constitution, has raised serious questions about the appropriateness of religious symbolism in government entities.
Taking to X, renowned hepatologist, DrCyriac Abby Philips aka TheLiverDoc posted a picture of the previous and current logo of the NMC.
“The National Medical Commission of India, the apex ‘scientific’ body that regulates medical education and medical professionals, has silently dropped the Ashoka State Emblem from its logo, replacing it with an image of the Hindu God Dhanvantri, the embodiment of pseudoscientific Ayurveda, thus signaling the shameless entry of India into the inner circle of pseudoscience Hell,” he posted.
“If the NMC members in charge of this abomination have some shame, they’ll change the logo to a more secular one…one that does not embrace pseudoscientific beliefs, driven by religion and faith, but by science and rationality. Some shame at least,” he added.
The National Medical Commision of India, the apex "scientific" body that regulates medical education and medical professionals has silently dropped the Ashoka State Emblem from it's logo, replacing it with an image of the Hindu God Dhanvantri, the embodiment of pseudoscientific… https://t.co/u5KpWpeYc7 pic.twitter.com/7kxgj5kEHs
— TheLiverDoc (@theliverdr) November 30, 2023
Meanwhile, Dr Sylvia Karpagam, a public health activist, strongly criticised the government’s handling of the health situation in the country, describing it as “callous at best”.
“The government’s response to the health situation of the country has been callous at best. Instead of putting in serious public health measures during Covid, they were busy banging pots and pans, throwing flower petals from helicopters, and communalising the catastrophic pandemic by unethically targetting the Muslim community,” she told South First.
Dr Karpagam pointed out that while these actions may have pleased certain sections of society, they overlooked the dire state of healthcare in India.
“While a certain section of society may feel thrilled by these shenanigans, anyone who has any concern for the individual or public health of the country would not have failed to notice the abysmal condition of healthcare in the country. Those accessing private healthcare are not necessarily more protected because they are also victims of an unregulated system — unnecessary tests, procedures, admissions, while the public health sector is mostly ill-equipped and under-funded,” she added.
Dr Karpagam said that inserting images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses into the National Medical Council and investing crores to rename health centres as “Ayushman Arogya Mandirs” might reap political benefits, but nothing could save our healthcare system other than serious investments and inclusive policies that benefit people rather than governments and corporates.
Crucially, these are a never-ending process of “converting” our hard-earned secularism into a casteist and communal structure, she said.
Finally, Dr Karpagam cautioned that the country would risk losing not just in terms of public health indicators, but also in other developmental areas. She criticised the role of compliant economists and academics, who she alleged were willing to further lower the benchmarks to artificially enhance the government’s image, regardless of the actual situation.
Not just the medical fraternity, but even the public strongly opposed the new logo of NMC. It blatantly contradicted the principles a secular government must uphold. They called for urgent action to rectify the lapse.
They expressed concerns over the growing influence of a specific ideological group, suggesting that citizens were being sidelined in the process. A post by one Kishan said that he also feared that such changes might pave the way for more radical alterations in the Indian Constitution, particularly the potential removal of “scientific temper” from the list of fundamental duties post-2024.
“This is the new normal in our country now. Citizens are just mute spectators whose benefit is being reaped by a small group of bigots. Wait until they change the Constitution after 2024 and I’m sure that they will erase the section of scientific temper from fundamental duties,” he said.
Another post on X by one Elavarasan said, “Perfectly suits the mission. Bharat replaces India and Dhanvantri drives out secularism; scientific temper has vanished along with the Ashoka lions emblem.”