Sisters and brothers of the profession, Ladies and Gentleman,.
I am deeply conscious of the honour you have done me in asking me to preside at a Homoeopathic Conference of such high standing as this. The honour lies in the fact that a man like myself happens to be, by training, profession and by right, a fully qualified member of the Allopathic School of Medicine.
And yet, if I have been granted the honour to be present among a body of homoeopathic practitioners, it surely must have a meaning. And it is this: In the eyes of many of my allopathic brethren, those who go over to, or advocate any system of medicine other than allopathy, are considered renegades and traitors to scientific medicine. They assume that there is only one medical science and that is allopathic medicine. They forget that there are many aspects to scientific medicine and that their view alone need not be the sole and only correct aspect.
To become narrow and dogmatic in ones scientific approach to phenomena leads to dogmatism, and that leads to prejudice and ignorance and intolerance. it ceases to be scientific. If to refuse to be dogmatic and doctrinaire is equivalent to becoming renegades, then very likely we are renegades. But, in reality, a renegade is a man who sells his convictions and his principles for some material reward or gain. He does not do so out of a sincere belief that what he is going over to is something better. His sole motive is financial and other material gain and not the grandeur of a principle that has won him over to its side.
But take the example of many of us allopaths, and their numbers are increasing day by day. We have openly embraced Homoeopathy with a full consciousness of the consequences of our action. Many of us have thrown up our allopathic profession at the height of our careers. Our incomes were good; we were considered quite efficient in our own line, and we had still further prospects of advancement in wealth and position if only we stuck on to our ropes.
Many of our professional brethren thought we were mad to throw up our profession and to take to something which was “Quackery”; especially when you consider that many of us, like the great Mahendra Lal Sircar and Hahnemann himself had to face financial collapse, starvation, humiliation, misunderstanding, derision, even the loss of former friends, leave alone income.
And if we have patiently borne all these disasters and proclaimed at considerable risks our burning faith, then I want to know how any honest, reasonable man can call such of us as renegades. It should occur to them that when men are willing to undergo sacrifices and loss, something very strong, something very worthwhile sacrificing for, must have inspired many of us to take the steps we have taken, as many had taken before.
As a former allopath, I can openly declare that a homoeopath, if he is a sincere worker, a true devotee of the ethics laid down by Hahnemann, can never hope to earn those large sums that even the average allopath earns with ease. Homoeopathy, if it is to be properly practised, must be genuinely and sincerely practised. It needs a great deal of industry, devotion, much searching of the heart, much devotion to an ideal, and a great sense of responsibility for human life.
In terms of payment, the work of a genuine Homoeopath can never be adequately compensated. Those who wish to come into the fold of Homoeopathy must be prepared for service, self-sacrifice, privation; and they must turn their back on the quest for wealth, ease, comfort and the acquisition of name and fame by the easy road. Homoeopathy has no changing fashions and fads to offer. There is no room for the expensive specialist and the high class society doctor that ponders to whims and moods of his wealthy patients.
At any rate not in homoeopathy. In Homoeopathy there is room only for the devoted and sincere worker who at the same time understands the philosophy of life. Yet, if knowing all these things some of us allopaths have chosen to take the hard and thorny road of Homoeopathy, then logically, must there not be something of undeniably convincing and majestic a quality in Homoeopathy that has drawn us allopaths to it?.
It is quite possible that we have mistaken in our choice. It very often happens that our emotions lead us astray, that we get lost in the maze of intellectual illusions which is Maya. But ten and twenty years should constitute enough time for scientists to realise their mistakes. Allopathy claims to teach us, who have studied it, the scientific attitude towards all scientific problems. We shall not be real scientists if we do not openly admit our mistakes. So would Homoeopathy be unscientific if it did not study and realise its own limitations and deficiencies.
Had we allopaths, who have accepted Homoeopathy, any clear and scientific reason to conclude that we had made a mistake in coming to Homoeopathy, we would have returned to our original calling, allopathy, long ago; for, the way back is always open to us. As a scientist, to the best of my conscience, I am here to declare, that after ten years of sincere and critical study of Homoeopathy, I have no reason, whatsoever, to abandon it today or in the future. And the fact that we have not done so, and very likely shall not do in the future, must indicate that Homoeopathy must have some value superior to the one we gave up.
No allopath who comes to investigate Homoeopathy with an open mind ever goes back to Allopathy. So tremendous is its hold on us. Constantine Hering, the ablest assistant to the great German allopath Hufeland, was sent by Hufeland to investigate into the claims of Homoeopathy; and he never came back. Neither did the prize scholar, Jousset, sent by the great French clinician Charcot. Neither did I, nor will anyone. I came because I was charged by my father to study ways and means to evolve the simplest scheme for medical aid to the villages. I found that allopathy could never solve the problems I was facing.
And the more I thought over it the more hopeless I became and the more I came to the inescapable conclusion that for the poverty-stricken villages of our country we shall have to employ any other system of medicine, it may be homoeopathy, it may be Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, anything but allopathy; and I shall have to investigate into their strengths and defects. As far as Homoeopathy is concerned, I can only say what Sir John Wier, physician to the King of England, said: “We have all been sceptics, but facts have been too strong for us. Over and over again doctors have been commissioned to look into it, in order to expose it, only to become its most enthusiastic exponents and adherents”.
But I believe that I shall be wasting your time if I talked to you about the strong points of Homoeopathy. On the contrary as a scientist I believe it is my duty to point out to you its limitations and its weaknesses which it is our duty to study and rectify; because our art, our profession must have one and only one purpose behind it and that is service of the country and its people. If we fail in that, if our art is unsuitable for that single purpose, if our science is too costly, if we ourselves are inefficient and incapable, then Homoeopathy is of no use to our country, no matter how useful it may be to the individual.
I have therefore not come to you, today, as a new convert, filled with the passionate reverence, awe and unbounded enthusiasm of a newly found faith, but as a scientist to discuss with you something of the stupendous problems that our country is facing, not only in matters of National Health but in every aspect of its national welfare. For twelve years I have been trying to study the almost hopeless and terrifying problems of the health of our unfortunate country which has been brought to the verge of ruin, altered into a barren desert and a festering cess-pool of a humanity uprooted by one hundred and fifty years of British rule over us.
Today a new India is rising out of the desolate ruins of the India that once was, India which was humiliated, enslaved, robbed of all its finer values. Let us be clear about one thing. I am by profession a physician. But more than that, I happen to be also a competent economist; and I tell you that a new India is in the throes of a new birth, in pain, blood and tears in the suicidal fratricidal wars of its misguided children. It is our own stupidity that we are waging wars against each other and drenching our precious land with our blood.
It may be that we shall return to sanity after a senseless orgy of mutual carnage, destruction and desolation of all finer values that was the tradition and common heritage of the children of this soil. But the destiny of our country does not depend upon our individual whims and fancies but on deep factors shaping world history. We can at most retard by our stupid actions its achievement. And this new India rising before our eyes is burdened with hundreds of problems old and new; and it will need great courage, faith and a new clear vision to face and solve those problems.
The human mind occupies itself with problems in various ways, but the quientessence of wisdom lies in simplifying our philosophies and in solving intricate problems in the simplest ways. It needs the greatest wisdom to be simple and to take a commonsense view of great problems. That is what we shall have to think of. For us as physicians, charged with the maintenance of National Health of an impoverished country like ours, the task becomes almost hopeless if we fail to take a broad view of the various factors that affect life and the living. Life does not function in a vacuum. It is related to and is affected by its environment.
Its reaction to and relation to its environment becomes the reality. The reality in our country is the terrifying problem of its stark and naked poverty. It, therefore, becomes all the more essential to assess with great exactitude the material possibilities that exist, so that we can reasonably hope for in the visible future in our country. That means a comprehensive knowledge of economics and economic possibilities. We must know as to what is possible and what is not, what is feasible and what is not, what is essential today and what is not, for a limited sum of money that our country can bring together.
Factors governing economic changes in a country are not so easy to influence or alter as factors governing political changes. It is also advisable to remember that political changes come far in advance of economic changes and that while political revolutions can be easily brought about, an economic revolution takes it own time and obeys quite a different set of laws from political upheavals. Failure to recognise this fundamental point has been responsible for the wasting of much time, energy and national finances in the shape of “Post-War Plans” in India and elsewhere, and elsewhere, except in Russia. All Russian Plans, the great 1st, 2nd and 3rd “Five Years Plans” have been based on fundamentally very sound principles.
They never looked centuries ahead or made schemes for forty years to come. No economist in his senses can foretell what the shape of things would come to be ten years hence. In this uneasy, unhappy world of today, full of strife and unrest, it becomes almost impossible. And yet The Bhore Committee Report has put up a plan which would take forty years to complete. The fundamental principles upon which the Russians have based all their plans, as realists, are on a realistic and thorough analysis of things as they really exist which is taken as the starting point. We can and must make plans on the basis of facts as they exist and of things already achieved. Only then do we make few mistakes.
BASIS OF A PLAN.
It is therefore essential to differentiate between what constitutes a plan and what a programme. A plan is built on what is available, ready at hand, capable of being exploited, consolidated and enlarged. A programme is a promise of the future and a hope capable of being fulfiled only when certain preconditions are granted or facilitated. It remains only a promise until it is fulfiled. Having worked as a member of the National Planting Committee of our country I had good deal of trouble in making my colleagues there appreciate the fundamental point, and therefore I must stress that point again. If our plans are to be built on the realities of today and of the facilities available, then the greatest single reality in India is its financial stringency.
As a competent economist I fear no challenge of this statement from any Finance Minister. The second greatest reality is the discrepancy between the health needs of the people and the inadequate medical services they receive, which, as the Health Commissioner with the Govt of India plainly admits “so far has not touched even the fringe of the problem”. The third greatest reality is the paucity of allopathically trained men as mentioned in the Bhore Committee Report. Therefore, I must tell you something about the Bhore Committee Recommendations. What is the Bhore Committee Report? Is it a plan or a programme?
Can it be a plan at all? The answer is No! Why? Because it is not based on the realities of today nor does it seek to make use of the facilities at our disposal now and here, nor based on the possibilities that can be guaged with reasonable exactitude and which can be developed if we had the will and had known how to, as I shall prove to you very soon. What it is therefore? A programme, a promise of the future that can only be fulfiled if premises be granted that do not exist today. I have not met a single allopath, be he Health Minister in the Provincial Govts or the learned Surgeon General, who could stand upto my economic arguments.
What is the greatest weakness, apart from several other glaring weaknesses in the Bhore Committee Recommendations? It lies in the fact that these excellent plans can only then go into operation when a very large sum of money is placed at its disposal. It is not less than 1000 Crores as initial capital and recurring expenditure. And that money, I as an economist can tell you without fear of challenge from any quarter, and judging from the trend of events as our country is suffering and must necessarily pass through, will not be available for a long time to come.
The Bhore Plan is like a beautiful motor car, a beautiful piece of machinery, but which cannot move because of the dearth of petrol. And that means that, however fine and impressive the Bhore Recommendations may be, however desirable and as a piece of scientific thinking certainly an achievement, they will not and cannot work because of one single and at present insuperable hindrance, which is a terrible and tangible reality, namely, the lack of the necessary finances.
It may be argued that money should be made available and you will tell me that Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru has said at the The Health Ministers Conference at Delhi on Oct. 10, 1946 that “If funds could be available for big wars, there was no reason why they should not be provided for to fight against ill-health and which was like the enemy from within and weakened the nation. No doubt it was a gigantic task but it was one of those urgent questions which had got to be attended to if we were to avoid situations like the after math of the Bengal famine.”
I say with all due deference to Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru that, while I agree with him in his desire, I cannot agree with his optimism that the finances can be so readily found. We have neither the trained army nor the munition nor the money, but we have, what the Bhore Committee could not appreciate, and which the allopath would hate to admit, a band of guerilla fighters who have often snatched a victory when the regular armies were routed. In order to know how to use them one must see how others have done it. It was the Boer, ill-armed, that inflicted defeat upon defeat on a highly military British army.
It was the Russian Guerilla and Partisan armies, ill-trained, that helped the regular Russian armies to defeat the worlds most fearful military machine, the German Army. And while British arms were suffering one defeat after the other in this last world war, it was the common man of Britain who held on undaunted and never admitted defeat. If we should accede to the Bhore Plan it assumes that no battle should be fought against an enemy already in our midst unless we have a large and well-trained army of death and bacilli fighters which will take forty years to prepare, provided we can find the money.
This is typical of the antiquated British way of thinking, and it is a fact that till recently the British never knew the technique of guerilla or of mobilising a people, until it was taught to them by a British Communist. That is the difference between the narrow British way of thinking and the broad realistic way of mobilising a people at which Soviet Russia is an expert. If we should apply this analogy to the Bhore Committee Report, we see immediately its glaring weakness, it narrow thinking, its attempt to preserve the rights and privileges of a small body of allopaths who are so small in numbers, but whose privileges are so great that it is almost like the struggle between the Zamindar trying to keep his rights and the peasant demanding his own rights.
The proportion of the Zamindar, who has too much, to the peasant, who has too little, is beyond all decency. Let us be clear about one thing beyond all shadow of doubt. The Bhore Plan is unworkable under existing circumstances. These circumstances will not change for a long time to come. On the contrary, there is every possibility and probability of their becoming worse. I am speaking of the financial aspect. Let us be clear about this one cardinal fact. Still more, let the Health Ministers and Surgeon Generals be clear about this fact. We stand today just where we were yesterday, before all these impressive but inapplicable “Post War Plans” began. What then?
It means that we still need a plan that can work under existing circumstances. With regard to Public Health we are as static as we were before. I say it is a great pity, because the Bhore Plan is a very thorough and painstaking analysis of present health conditions in our country, a very thoughtful and exhaustive study of things as they are and as they ought to be. But what a pity that these men who made the report did not know what is possible and what is not possible economically in our country.
I do not know how many of you here have made a study of the Bhore Committee Report. I know that hardly a handful of allopaths and even smaller number of officials of the Medical Departments have waded through it. And the reason is that it is very voluminous and comprehensive, going into 4 large volumes, and it is not everybodys business to afford so much time to see its strength and weaknesses.
SALIENT POINTS FROM THE BHORE COMMITTEE REPORT.
In a very short analysis let me tell you the facts that the Report has determined. It wants 1000 Crores for it to be put into action. It cannot get it. It wants 40 years to complete its work. No social economist or political economist is prepared to tell you what the shape of things will be in the next forty years. A forty years plan can be proffered only by men totally ignorant of historical phenomena.
They have shown by their investigations that India has today 47,500 allopathic or so-called “Scientifically trained” doctors and India needs or will require 2,36,650 such scientifically trained men; that India has at present 7000 nurses and will need 7,40,000, that is, more than 100 times the number of today; that we have 5000 midwives today and need, 112,500, that is, more than 600 times the present figure; that we have 750 dentists and need 92,500 dentists; and that we have only 65 qualified pharmacists while we need 84,000. I quite agree with all these figures.
But tell me how are a people whose per capita income is Rs. 62-3-3 per annum as compared with Rs. 1049-6-5 of Great Britain and Rs. 1371-7-3 of the United States, to meet the expenditure the Bhore Committee wants? On the average the Provincial Govts spend on medical aid and health one and a half anna in Bihar to 5 annas nine pies per head per annum in Bombay, and if we were to keep on the same level as Great Britain and U.S.A. we should have to spend at least Rs. 3-3-0 per head per annum and that is absolutely impossible. There is a lot of wishful thinking even among our capitalistic economists. For instance, the Tata-Birla Plan, known as THE BOMBAY PLAN, has built up its arguments on fundamentally wrong assumptions.