After SC’s verdict against pay parity, Ayurvedic doctors miffed; allopathic doctors laud move

In its ruling, the court noted that emergency-duty allopathy doctors were capable of performing could not be performed by Ayurveda practitioners.

ByChetana Belagere

Published Apr 28, 2023 | 9:00 AMUpdated Apr 28, 2023 | 9:00 AM

Supreme Court's Ayurvedic doctor pay parity verdict fuels debate between allopathy and AYUSH doctors in India. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Supreme Court of India’s ruling that Ayurvedic doctors cannot be paid the same as allopathic doctors has irked Ayurveda practitioners, while allopathy doctors have appreciated the apex court’s ruling.

Speaking to South First, renowned Ayurvedic doctor Dr Giridhar Kaje, Chief Physician at Prashanthi Ayurveda Centre said, “This judgement is biased and meaningless. Ayurveda doctors are on par with MBBS doctors in all the points mentioned by the Supreme Court.”

On the other hand, Dr Anil Kumar Sharma, a leading cardiologist, said that the decision upholds the integrity of the allopathic medical profession and underscores the importance of evidence-based medicine.

What was the Supreme Court’s verdict?

The apex court set aside an appeal by government Ayurveda doctors in Gujarat, seeking pay parity with MBBS doctors. The Supreme Court ruled that Ayurveda doctors cannot claim equal pay as their counterparts in allopathy as they do not perform equal work.

The apex court stated that there is a clear distinction between the two types of medical practitioners and, therefore, their pay scales cannot be equated.

Noting the differences between the two disciplines, a bench of Justices V Ramasubramanian and Pankaj Mithal said: “We have no doubt that every alternative system of medicine may have its pride of place in history. But today, the practitioners of indigenous systems of medicine do not perform complicated surgical operations. A study of Ayurveda does not authorise them to perform these surgeries.”

Also Read: Ayurveda doctors not entitled to same pay as MBBS doctors: SC

Differences noted by the court 

  • While allopathy doctors are required to perform emergency duties and attend to trauma cases, surgery cases, and even postmortem cases, Ayurvedic doctors have to do none of these.
  • Allopathy doctors have to work in OPDs and operation theatres, while Ayurveda doctors have no work in an operation theatre.
  • Allopathy doctors administer IV injections and ART injections themselves, while for the other, the medicine is based on Ayurveda. Example: Powder to be taken with boiled water
  • Allopathy doctors’ main duty is with respect to emergencies, casualty, and OPD patients, but the main duty of Ayurveda doctors is to advertise/make people aware about Ayurvedic treatments and organising camps where different types of vanaspati are displayed.
  • Nature of treatment between the two is very different.
  • While allopathy doctors are not easily available, Ayurvedic doctors are available in plenty.
  • Bond system is applicable for allopathy doctors and they have to serve in villages for at least five years, but Ayurveda doctors have no such bond system. They also do not have night duty.

Also Read: Alternative medicine reason for 42% of chronic liver disease deaths

What are Ayurvedic doctors saying?

Dr Giridhara noted that the Supreme Court’s ruling has been based on a 2013 affidavit, whereas Ayurveda has moved way ahead in the last 10 years.

“The demand for Ayurveda has gone up multiple folds, especially post-Covid. There are more patients seeking Ayurvedic treatment now. So, basing the judgement on a 2013 affidavit is meaningless,” he said.

Speaking about the number of hours of duty, Dr Giridhara said, “Once you are a doctor, be it any stream, it is not about eight or nine hours of duty. They should be available 24/7. All Ayurvedic hospitals are open 24 hours. We, doctors, are ready to give medicines even in the middle of the night. Once you are in the field of medicine, there are no timings.”

Speaking about night duty, Dr Giridhara said that in most hospitals, it is the BAMS doctors who are on night duty, not MBBS doctors.

Also, “In rural areas, there are no PHCs, there are only homeopathy or Ayurvedic doctors. The ones who have specialised in the paediatrics wing of Ayurveda will not only treat children, but he’s the doctor for the entire village. So this whole argument about ‘they have more stress’, ‘they see more patients’, ‘they work more hours’, ‘they do surgeries’, etc, is meaningless and baseless,” argued Dr Giridhara.

Also Read: Allopathy vs AYUSH: Kerala public health sector a divided house

‘Ayurveda doctors perform surgery too’

Sushruta, an ancient Indian physician and surgeon, is regarded as the father of modern surgery and is known for his contributions to Ayurvedic medicine

Sushruta, an ancient Indian surgeon, is regarded as the father of modern surgery. (Wikimedia Commons)

Dr Giridhara also took offence to the judgement saying that AYUSH doctors do not perform surgery.

He said, “The godfather of Indian surgery — rhinoplasty — is none but Sushruta. Dr MC Modi (a noted Ayurvedic eye surgeon) has done surgeries since 1942. He’s the man who has performed the highest number of surgeries in a day and also the maximum number of surgeries.”

Banaras Hindu University from the last 50 years has a PG Surgery wing in the Ayurvedic Department. Both pre- and post-surgery medications are given on the basis of Ayurveda there.

Citing his own example, Dr Giridhara said, “In a day, I spend nearly 12-14 hours in my clinic seeing patients. I am able to take only four to five days of holidays in an entire year. If we can handle a complex case of a kidney patient who is on dialysis, aren’t we under stress too? It is a life that we are dealing with too.”

Taking to Twitter

Similar opinions from AYUSH doctors flooded Twitter and other social media platforms. They objected to the judgement. One such tweet read, “The market determines the pay, not some court or some armchair analyst. There are MBBS doctors who are working as clerks in MRO offices and there are illiterate Ayurvedic doctors who make crores. Sit down.”

Dr Radhika Ranjith, a homeopathy doctor from Mysuru, asked if the government would reduce the salaries of dentists as the risk they take is less? She said that the judgement is biased and has not looked into the advanced treatments of AYUSH.

Also Read: Patanjali Wellness puts out ad saying Type 1 diabetes is curable

Allopathy doctors laud the SC verdict

On the other hand, the ruling has been welcomed by the medical fraternity, especially allopathic doctors who have long argued that their profession requires a much higher degree of expertise and knowledge.

They have also argued that the demand for allopathic doctors is much higher in India, as most people prefer modern medical treatments over traditional methods.

Doctors said that the decision is expected to have a far-reaching impact on the medical sector in India, as it will help in maintaining the quality of healthcare services and ensure that patients receive the best possible treatment.

It will also help in preventing the proliferation of unqualified and unskilled doctors in the country, which has been a cause for concern for the medical fraternity for a long time, they said.

They have welcomed the court’s decision, citing concerns over patient safety and the lack of standardisation in Ayurvedic practice.

What allopathic doctors say

Dr Meghanath Yenni of Visakhapatnam said that the allopathic system is a measurable, accountable, and medico-legally answerable system of medicine. “We own the patient; we own the treatment, and we own the responsibility!” he said.

Speaking to South First, Dr Sanjay G, a physician from Bengaluru, said, “The judgement is absolutely right. It upholds the standards of medical education and practice in the country. Ayurvedic medicine, while valuable in its own right, should not be equated with allopathy, which is a science-based system of medicine that has been rigorously tested and proven effective.”

Also Read: Hepatologist Dr Cyriac Philips on fight against alternative medicine

Dr Cyriac Abby Philips, who’s better known as The Liver Doc on social media and is on a crusade against Ayurveda and Homeopathy, took to Twitter and wrote, “It took a verdict from the honorable SC for people to understand the difference between medical science and pseudoscience. Apart from the pointed differences shown in court, as per the table below, there are far more important difference that should make a pseudoscience like Ayurveda and a quackery like Homeopathy be cast into oblivion.”

TheLiverDoc’s detailed viewpoint

Listing what he thinks are differences between medical doctors and AYUSH practitioners, he wrote:

  • Ayush practitioners cannot diagnose a disease and, hence, cannot treat properly. Example: Ayurveda treats imbalance of vata/pitta/kapha, unmeasurable, obsolete and imaginary pathologies without proof of existence.
  • Homeopaths treat vital force which no human has ever confirmed, seen or measured, with nothing and, sometimes, alcohol.
  • Yoga claims to align chakras to improve health/wellness, which can be seen only with a third eye. Humans, unfortunately, do not have a third eye.

He also added that Ayurveda (BAMS), Homeopathy (BHMs), Siddha (BSMs), and Naturopathy (BYNS) are taught in India as professional courses, wasting five years of a student’s life and productive human years.

However, Dr Shanai Sundaran, a homeopath from Karnataka’s Udupi said, “Both systems of medicine have their strengths and weaknesses, and both have their own unique approaches to healing. The judgement is discriminatory and unfair.”