The renaming of Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness centers as Ayushman Arogya Mandir has sparked backlash in Ladakh. After red flag by Ladakh Buddhist Association, the BJP ruled Ladakh Autonomous Council has asked the Lieutenant Governor to “respect public sentiment”.
“I am taking the liberty to express my concerns, as well as of the public, regarding the recent renaming of the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness centers to Ayushman Arogya Mandir,” Tashi Gyalson, Chairman cum Chief Executive Councilor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, wrote to Lieutenant Governor, Brig (Retired) B.D. Mishra.
“It has come to my attention that this change has generated significant resentment among the public, necessitating prompt attention and resolution,” wrote Mr Gyalson.
Referring to Health ministry directive, Mr Gyalson, who is also a senior BJP leader, said it was stipulated that the title, Ayushman Arogya Mandir, could be translated into state languages. “As such it is requested that, renaming an institute is a matter of great sensitivity, and it is imperative to honor public sentiments,” the CEO said in the letter.
The decision to rename Ayushman Bharat Health & Wellness Centres as Ayushman Arogya Mandirs was taken by Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in November last year. The ministry had asked all the states and Union Territories to ensure compliance by December 31, 2023.
As the new signages of Ayushman Health Centres raised eyebrows, Ladakh Buddhist association demanded an immediate reversal of Mandir tag.
In his letter to Ladakh Autonomous Councils of Leh and Kargil, Chering Dorjey, President of the Ladakh Buddhist Association, said use of religious names in government departments is unacceptable.
“Renaming government medical aid centers as Ayushman Arogya Mandir is unfortunate and tantamount to playing with sentiments of people of Ladakh… India is a secular country and using religious names and symbols in the government departments is unconstitutional and unacceptable” he wrote.
“Ladakh Buddhist association therefore, request LAHDC Leh and LAHDC Kargil to take necessary action and take up matter with higher authorities,” he added.
Ladakh Buddhist Association is most powerful religious group in the region which has been spearheading demand for statehood for Ladakh and safeguards under Sixth Schedule of the constitution.