Prof. Manu Kothari

In 1909, Gandhiji penned Hind Swaraj on board a ship. A century hence, in 2009, Gandhiji’s work continues to have universal relevance that has diminished neither in purpose nor in impact – Prof. Ulhas Jajoo’s book is an encore of Hind Swaraj. The book is charged with core-truths which are applicable anywhere by anybody, sans any financial largesse. The widespread applicability of this pioneering work is only a matter of will, with results assured in many ways. Prof. Jajoo’s research and vision are both beyond the caprices of space, time, and statistics.

The title term ‘Holistic’ conjures up a vision of a human body pepped up by the right food/exercise/medicine/meditation/a self-centered view of health. In my view, Prof. Jajoo’s book encompasses just a little of the foregoing and a lot of socio-economic factors ranging from unnegotiable roads to lack of even a make-shift toilet, no access to medicine or medical care, joblessness, spiritlessness,  the usual I/me/mine uncooperativeness, ill-effects of small but sudden earnings and so on. This complexity is captured beautifully in the chapters ‘Eureka!’ - wherein the author and his co-workers’ are elated and the chapter ‘Shattered Dreams!!’ – wherein the elation is immediately followed by a climactic comedown that speaks volumes for the down-to-earth realities that the author and his team are conscious of.

Bhagwad Gita  on the one hand and Gandhiji/Vinobaji on the other have iterated, time and again, the irrelevance of material gains in the absence of a backdrop of spirituality, decency, societal consciousness, appreciation of one’s duties to the society and humanity. Alexis Carrel, the Nobel laureate who penned the classic ‘Man the Unknown’ has pointed out, in the 1930’s, that medical science pays too much attention to this much of protein/ that much of vitamin, forgetting all the while that frequent doses of spirituality and meaningful prayers are even more vital. The Sicilian literary Nobelist Quasimodo Salvatore summed up the modern man, Homo modernus et scientificus as Heartless, Loveless, and, Christless. Be it the crumbling West, the struggling far east, or the so-called emergent BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China – the GNP runs parallel to Gross National Perversion in terms of crimes, drug addictions, alcoholism, rapes and murders. On a tiny nuclear scale, Prof. Jajoo illustrates how economic gains get rapidly matched by social decay. In the 21st century, given the clout of money, media and crass commercialism, this may be the most difficult nut to crack. Gandhiji tried and failed. The Gujarati poet-educationist Karsandas Manek sized up India and its Indianness in a haiku circa 1948.

Oh! Independece
Thou petal of freedom
We dunces
Chewed you up!

That Dr. Ulhas jajoo has holistically succeeded to render as many as 30 villages healthy, and that too in a sustainable fashion, augurs well for his welcome crusade.

Another title term – ‘rural’ - needs elaboration. The inevitable assumption is that things are alright with the urban areas - a presumption belied by Indian urbania’s fouled up air, gutterized water, filth all around, food cost and scarcity, social unrest and crime that seem to be on the upswing chronically. That the investors and the political powers that be gleefully capitulated into describing medical services as ‘Health Care Industry’ automatically gave the profession the right to seek profit-in-disease and to see patients-as-a-commodity. The kickbacks and commissions have seen to it that whereas all other commodities symbolizing sophistication – mobiles, laptops, Ipads, computers, Television, DVD players – have progressively come down in price, the medical spiral is cancerous in its shameless spread. Modern medical curriculum could be summarized, in the words of a British educationist, as putting false pearls before real swines. Medical colleges give degrees but no character. The exceptionality of Prof. Ulhas Jajoo and his team is credit to them and the institution they represent.

I would like to conclude that whatsoever Prof. Ulhas Jajoo preaches is highly doable, fully worth its while, and has the promise of restoring Gram Swaraj to much of India. The book is a must-read for all the pathies, their students, teachers, researchers and planners as also the powers locally, at state level and at the center. This meritorious book lends itself to be part of all undergraduate and postgraduate medical curricula, backed by frequent seminars, workshops, and the likes thereon. It could travel well beyond the borders of India, in all directions for the betterment of the nations and humanity.

The book is admirably made. The simple colorful cover offers an inspiring depth. The publication is sleek with clear fonts, faultless editing, a highly readable text, and excellent drawings by Gajanan Ambulkar. Many of the photos appear faded, and small drawings are too crowded to convey the message. The next reprint of the book should take care of the same. The no-nonsense approach of the book to the so-called science and modernity is very telling. Prof. Ulhas Jajoo has prescribed distilled wisdom gleaned after ceaseless personal involvement since 1976. He is a modern-day Schweitzer, imbued with Gandhian spirit, Vivekananda’s vision and Vinoba’s clarity. His march may seem a lone one, a solitary crusade but is endowed with veracity, applicability, fruitfulness and above all the invocation is pregnant with wellbeing of mankind -  physically, mentally and spiritually.

Manu KothariManu Kothari
Former Professor & Head
Dept. of Anatomy
Seth GS Medical College, Parel,
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India