Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, an ayurvedic doctor and the former vice-chancellor of Jamnagar-based Gujarat Ayurveda University, has been appointed by the government as the special secretary, Ministry of AYUSH. He has been appointed for three years. 54-year-old Kotecha calls himself an “entrepreneurial Gujarati”, the son of illiterate parents. As per the reports by Indian Express, his first business venture was inaugurated by Narendra Modi who was then a BJP general secretary.
Kotecha was awarded the Padma Shri in the year 2015. Kotecha’s CV says he is ‘Trustee, World Ayurveda Foundation, an initiative of Vijnana Bharati, (and) Advisor to the Vijnana Bharati, the biggest science and technology movement in India’. Vijnana Bharati is one of the outfits of the RSS, as per the reports by Indian Express. Kotecha drifted into Ayurveda, graduated from the same Gujarat Ayurveda University that he later headed.
Kotecha’s appointment is considered as the first instance of a lateral entry into a secretary-level position from outside the civil service. Prior to this, it was Parameswaran Iyer, who was got in by lateral entry at this high level in the NDA government. Iyer, an IAS officer was brought out of retirement to be made Drinking Water and Sanitation Secretary. Kotecha moved into his AYUSH office on June 29. As per a June 20 order, Health Secretary C K Mishra will continue to remain in charge until such time that Kotecha is familiar with the working of the ministry. Although this has been a matter of confusion.
Meanwhile, the officials have been aggrieved with the lateral entry and have been wondering at the open-ended nature of the order and the almost dual command structure that is in place for now. Kotecha’s wife Mita teaches at the National Institute of Ayurveda in Jaipur. As per the reports, questions have also been raised about a conflict of interest as Mita works in an institute run by the ministry.
When asked about what he brings to the table that an IAS officer cannot, Kotecha while sitting in his AYUSH office, spoke on IAS/non-IAS comparison, he said that he does not support this idea of the difference between IAS and non-IAS. ” It is not the right thing to do… It is a big responsibility. It is not wise to compare what I can do and what an IAS cannot do. IAS can do so many things, but as a technocrat, I can do so many things,” he was quoted by Indian Express as saying. He said the government has brought him to the AYUSH Ministry to bring quality, in everything from education and research to public health.
Kotecha says he first met Modi in 1988, when he came to inaugurate the first branch of his Chakrapani Clinic in Jaipur, as BJP general secretary. The clinic has branches in Jaipur, the US and France. While talking about his long association with RSS ideologue Nanaji Deshmukh, Kotecha said that he was his mentor, a father figure. He handpicked Kotecha for the Post Graduate Institute of Ayurveda, Mahatma Gandhi Chitrakoot Gramodaya University, where Kotecha was from 1991-98. The Chitrakoot university was founded by Deshmukh.