The Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) and parties based in Kargil have opposed the government’s renaming of health centres as “Ayushman Arogya Mandirs” in the region.
In a letter to the Chief Executive Councillor, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, Chering Dorjey, acting president of LBA, said the recent order of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare renaming government medical aid centres and health and wellness centres as Ayushman Arogya Mandirs was unfortunate and “tantamount to playing with the sentiments of the people of Ladakh.”
“From the comments of the people on social media, it is evident that people have taken cognisance of the matter and asked the elected representatives of the people to act to rectify it. India is a secular country and using religious names and symbols in government departments is unconstitutional and unacceptable. The Ladakh Buddhist Association therefore requests LAHDC Leh and LAHDC Kargil to take necessary actions, take up the matter with the higher authorities concerned and respect the sentiments of the people of Ladakh,” the letter reads.
Last year in November, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare decided to rebrand the Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs) as ‘Ayushman Arogya Mandirs’ along with the tagline ‘Arogyam Parmam Dhanam’.
In another letter to the LAHDC Leh, several councillors from different parts of Leh region have written to Chief Executive Councillor, LAHDC, Leh, to take “serious cognisance of public sentiments being disturbed by the recent decision of the Centre to name all public healthcare centres as Ayushman Arogya Mandir”.
“This decision might become a hindrance to health centres being universally accessible,” the letter reads. The letter titled “Concern regarding the naming of public healthcare centres as Ayushman Arogya Mandir” says “On behalf of the people of Leh district, the L-G should consider repealing the order keeping in mind the religious and cultural sentiments of the residents of Ladakh.”
While responding to these letters, LAHDC Leh chairman Tashi Gyalison, who is from the BJP, has written to L-G BD Mishra to reconsider the move. “In light of this, I kindly request that the branding for these health centres be done using Bhoti,” the Chief Executive Councillor’s letter reads.
Sajad Kargili, a leader of Kargil Democratic Alliance, also questioned the “rebranding exercise of Ayushman Bharat into Ayushman Arogya Mandir by the Health Department.”
He says it falls short on all fronts of inclusivity. “The failure to align with the directives of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare only adds to the complexity of the situation. The health institutions, serving as common resources for the people, require a locally accepted brand that respects the sentiments of all people. Public policies and scheme names should mirror the diverse intentions of the public, promoting inclusivity rather than favouring any particular belief system or community,” he said.
In his message to the L-G of Ladakh, Kargili said he sought intervention in the matter. “We urge the consideration of the Ladakhi community’s demand and request to refrain from any branding or changes that incorporate names or symbols associated with a specific belief system on public properties, policies and institutions.”