Rajya Sabha on Friday passed two Bills to replace ordinances related to a Central Council of Homoeopathy and Indian Medicine Central Council, even as Opposition parties accused the government of using the ordinance route when it was not necessary.
The government assured the House that it was committed to providing easy access to healthcare to all, and said it would promote Indian medicine systems.
The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 will extend the tenure of the council by two years — its two-year tenure is over. The Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks a year’s time to reconstitute the central council, and provides for a board of directors in the interim for Indian medicine systems including ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy.
Leading the attack for the Congress, Ripun Bora accused the government of delay in constituting the homoeopathy council. He said that when the board of governors was constituted in 2018, “it was decided that the council was required to be reconstituted within one year from the date of supercession” but it has not been done yet. “Is this modern India where the government has been taking three years to constitute a simple Homoeopathy Central Council?” he asked.
He said the government wanted to run the board of governors with its own appointees and “it is a very bad sign for democracy” as the government “is in the habit of encroaching upon the autonomy of institutions”.
TMC’s Santanu Sen said, “This government is in a mood to ruin all the ancient systems of medicine and promote quackery.”
He said later that “they are indirectly promoting quackery” and “saying that those who have experience of practising homeopathy for five years would get registered, thus indirectly they are promoting private medical colleges”.
RJD’s Manoj Kumar Jha sought a review by the Ministry of AYUSH. Calling the government an “ordinance factory”, he said, “There is no mention of the exigency, immediacy, they only want an ordinance, Parliament is in recess, want an ordinance.”
BJD’s Prasanna Acharya also questioned the need for an ordinance. Members of SP, DMK, YSR Congress and JD(U) also spoke on the topic.
Responding to the debate, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the government has “neither the aim nor the intention” to encroach on the autonomy of any institution. “Government can give policy guidance, but it is not involved in day-to-day functioning, nor does it want to,” he said.
The minister said the government has a “transparent and clear intention to bring these Bills”, and is trying to bring “useful reforms in medical education and modern systems”.
The government, he said, “is committed to provide top quality healthcare in all systems” including Indian medicines. He said he was “pained” that one member had called some Indian medicine systems “quackery”.
Defending the ordinance route, he said that governments in the past had resorted to it and this was nothing unusual.
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