Ayurveda expert made ministry Secy has RSS links, owns clinics

In 2015, Rajesh Kotecha was awarded the Padma Shri. Kotecha’s CV says he is ‘Trustee, World Ayurveda Foundation, an initiative of Vijnana Bharati, (and) Advisor to the Vijnana Bharati, the biggest science and technology movement in India’. Vijnana Bharati is one of the outfits of the RSS.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Updated: July 9, 2017 8:50 am
Rajesh Kotecha at his GTO office in New Delhi. (Source: Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

IN WHAT may be the first instance of lateral entry into a secretary-level position from outside the civil service, the government has appointed Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, a former vice-chancellor of Jamnagar-based Gujarat Ayurveda University, as special secretary, Ministry of AYUSH. The only other case of lateral entry at this high level in the NDA government is of Parameswaran Iyer, an IAS officer who was brought out of retirement to be made Drinking Water and Sanitation Secretary.

Kotecha, an ayurvedic doctor, has been appointed for three years. His wife Mita teaches at the National Institute of Ayurveda in Jaipur. Kotecha, 54, calls himself an “entrepreneurial Gujarati”, the son of illiterate parents. His first business venture was inaugurated by Narendra Modi, then a BJP general secretary. In 2015, he was awarded the Padma Shri. Kotecha’s CV says he is ‘Trustee, World Ayurveda Foundation, an initiative of Vijnana Bharati, (and) Advisor to the Vijnana Bharati, the biggest science and technology movement in India’. Vijnana Bharati is one of the outfits of the RSS.

While Kotecha moved into his AYUSH office on June 29, a June 20 order that says that till such time that he is familiar with the working of the ministry, Health Secretary C K Mishra will continue to remain in charge has caused some confusion.

Officials, already resentful of the lateral entry, have been wondering at the open-ended nature of the order and the almost dual command structure that is in place for now. Questions have also been raised about a conflict of interest as Kotecha’s wife works in an institute run by the ministry. Sitting in his AYUSH office, Kotecha bristles at the IAS/non-IAS comparison. “I will not do it (answer a question about what he brings to the table that an IAS officer cannot) because I do not support this idea of difference between IAS and non-IAS… It is not the right thing to do… It is a big responsibility. It is not wise to compare what I can do and what an IAS cannot do. IAS can do so many things, but as a technocrat I can do so many things.”

Kotecha says he first met Modi in 1988, when he came to inaugurate the first branch of his Chakrapani Clinic in Jaipur, as BJP general secretary. The clinic has branches in Jaipur, the US and France. “I did not know Modi. Somebody suggested that you are a Gujarati, he is a Gujarati, he may come. So I invited him, and since he was already in Jaipur for another function, he came for the inauguration. When I was the vice-chancellor of Gujarat Ayurveda University from 2013-2016, he was the CM for some of that time. So I did pay him a courtesy visit but we have not had too many interactions,” Kotecha says.

Talking about his long association with RSS ideologue Nanaji Deshmukh, Kotecha says, “He was my mentor, a father figure. He handpicked me for the Post Graduate Institute of Ayurveda, Mahatma Gandhi Chitrakoot Gramodaya University, where I was from 1991-98. I was his personal physician.” The Chitrakoot university was founded by Deshmukh.

Kotecha, who admits having drifted into Ayurveda, graduated from the same Gujarat Ayurveda University that he later headed. “People say I was good,” he says about his tenure, during which he brought in examination reforms.
He says the government has brought him to the AYUSH Ministry to bring quality, in everything from education and research to public health. “There is already a lot of good work being done,” he adds quickly.

Asked about the opposition of allopathy doctors to a proposal in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, now on hold, to give rights to AYUSH doctors to abort non-surgically, Kotecha says the ministry is pushing for it. The legislation is stalled since the Sangli abortion racket, where a homoeopath was caught doing illegal abortions. The PMO felt that the Health Ministry should focus on implementation of existing laws.

Kotecha slams what he calls the undue focus on such incidents. “Reports in foreign media about our country make it appear like we have a very high crime rate, which is not true. This is like that. These are isolated incidents, it is not like everybody is doing it, but media gives disproportionate coverage.”Kotecha also calls “packaging” of AYUSH one of his priorities. Asked about Swami Ramdev — who declined the Padma Shri the same year as Kotecha was awarded — and his growing Ayurveda empire, he smiles. “If FMCG brands are scared of an Indian company, it is good,” he adds.

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  1. O
    Outstanding
    Jul 11, 2017 at 4:48 pm
    Welcome step but appointed in concealed way, many projecting him as one only eligible man for this post. All his credits were due to his link with RSS BJP, is it his achievement's?
    Reply
    1. D
      Dr Bidhan Mahajon
      Jul 11, 2017 at 8:52 am
      I support this step of Government to bring a specialist from the Ayurveda field in this post. I appreciate the steps of Government for promoting this Indian Heritage System of Medicine. As he is an experienced personality in the field of Ayush system he will be more aware about the lacunas and obstacles for development of this system. He is a successful physician, researcher and administrative too. As he has contributed successfully so many things in this three responsible characters, hope he can do a lot within three years in each and every aspects of Education, Research and health service of this system. My personal request to media please don't do the negative criticism. Ayurveda is the system of medicine gifted by our ancient great sages. Its our heritage and Tradition. Think positively to do betterment for this old science, Its your responsibility too. Look on China how they have captured the global market by promoting Chinese medicine and earning lots of foreign money...!!!! U?
      Reply
      1. R
        rangarao
        Jul 10, 2017 at 6:05 am
        Why technocrats should be objected,for secratarial posts.
        Reply
        1. S
          Sriram Kalpathi
          Jul 9, 2017 at 8:51 pm
          IAS will disappear, if Ayurveda can cure politics of the non corrupt and converts non corrupt into corrupt.
          Reply
          1. R
            Ravishankar Balasubramanian
            Jul 9, 2017 at 3:25 pm
            V. Good. Who says Modi is not corrupt? If unqualified can become secretaries then why Have IAS exams? You can lick the boots of Modi and become ias
            Reply
            1. R
              Ravishankar Balasubramanian
              Jul 9, 2017 at 3:24 pm
              Vivek. Good. Who says Modified is not corrupt? If unqualified become secretaries then why have is exams? You can lick the boots of Modified and become ias
              Reply
              1. R
                rishi
                Jul 9, 2017 at 3:09 pm
                Perfectly fine. RSS-stalwarts are working overtime in their remarkably honesty and intent leading to some great contribution to nation-building and assisting NDA Govt. in making up in every possible way for the lost 65yrs when India moved at a snail's pace under an ancient corrupt-colonial-congress , while many other countries leaped forward in all aspects of governance. NDA is innovative, entrepreneurial and progressive , the traits that identify with every aspiring Indian in those millions of young women and men in search of clean, healthy and honest livelihoods with higher incomes and better living in an environment of National Pride that RSS derives its strength from in the interest of the Nation.
                Reply
                1. C
                  cbonf
                  Jul 9, 2017 at 2:58 pm
                  Modi Govt should cease from obtaining undue 'photo ops' and mere 'publicity' from our age old vedic Systems. YOGA has been used only to celebrate INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY whereas YOGA should have been introduced at School and College curriculum. Modi praised Sikkim for becoming 100 percent organic but has done nothing to make India 100 percent organic. Similarly ALLOPATHY needs to be abolished totally and our age old Ayurveda Siddha Medicine systems should be brought back - since they are cheap, healthy, eco friendly and almost free of cost.
                  Reply
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