The Supreme Court had ordered equal pay for both allopathic and AYUSH doctors last year in all government hospitals.
The AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) doctors in government hospitals of India continue to be underpaid despite being eligible for equal pay as allopathic doctors. Many doctors say they face many disparities other than just salary differences.
AYUSH doctors face disparity on many levels than just wages; doctors get many benefits in a hospital from attending seminars to remunerations, and often they do not get to take advantage of those, said Dr. Radhe Krishan, research officer at Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), Ministry of AYUSH.
He also spoke about the huge gap in budget allocation for AYUSH and allopathic medicine. Krishna added that although people are turning towards allopathy but many still prefer Ayurveda and homeopathy medication.
Aman*, a doctor from Lok Nayak Hospital, Delhi, said that there is a wage disparity at the government hospital. In a government setup, starting salary for allopathic doctors is around Rs. 90,000. He also urged that both should be paid equally.
During Covid, Karnataka raised the salary of AYUSH doctors to Rs. 45,000 from Rs. 25,000 for six months.
Reports say that the scientific breakthrough of western medicine influenced the medical system, institutions, and practitioners in India. Today, surveys show people’s inclination towards allopathy over AYUSH medicine. This is the reason, AYUSH doctors face disparities in preference, wages, the importance of work, remunerations, etc.
Dr. Simmi Dang, an AYUSH doctor at IBS hospital said, homeopathic doctors are not paid equally instead they are paid much lesser than allopathic doctors due to the slow recovery time.
She added that AYUSH doctors should be paid equally because their line of practice is much more different and diverse. Dang said that t though their recovery period is slow but it’s quite efficient and less harmful than Allopathy.
The Supreme Court had ruled last year that allopathy doctors and AYUSH doctors working in government hospitals are entitled to equal pay and if there is discrimination in the pay then it’s a violation of right to equality under Article 14.
During the peak time of Covid, many reports had come wherein AYUSH doctors and ASHA workers were protesting for equal pay. In some Public Health Centers (PHC) they were getting even lesser pay than the minimum wage. They had threatened to leave their jobs and go on strike if their demands were not met. The Department of Health and Family Welfare replied to this saying that they would soon be implementing equal pay for both the doctors.
Aman* also spoke about how Indian patients with a traditional or conservative mindset usually start with AYUSH medicine but when it doesn’t help they seek help from allopathic doctors.
Shilpa, a resident of Faridabad, did not agree with this though. She believed that Ayurveda is more effective than allopathy. It leaves a long-lasting impact. She even shared an instance where her daughter got a foot allergy and tried various allopathic doctors but nothing helped. Eventually, she visited a hakim nearby who was an ayurvedic doctor who cured the allergy within just two days.
“The ultimate aim of the Health system is the health for all. Modern medicine and AYUSH medicine are the different streams but their ultimate goal is the same. During Covid-19, we were altogether giving our skills and knowledge for the society. All doctors are professionals, and on field nobody is up or down that is the reason we are calling them doctors. The great hand from MBBS, BDS, and AYUSH doctors made us fight against the pandemic and made achieved success over it,” said, Dr. Basil Issac,
Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy cumulate to become AYUSH medicine in India. There is a rich heritage of medical knowledge derived from the Vedas or the Rishis. These were the principal medical practices of the country for centuries, forming part of Indian ethos and culture. It was during the 1700s that western medicine came to India and later became popular.