For him, the ends justify the means when it comes to issues close to his heart. That explains why, over the last four years, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, a qualified medical doctor, has been in the news for reasons more wrong than right. About 52 per cent of children in India, he says, take their puff on a cigarette because they have seen movie stars smoke on screen. His remedy: ban smoking on screen. When he couldn’t muster up support for this move, he appealed to Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan not to play characters that smoke on screen. Expectedly, Khan declined to oblige, citing creative freedom.Ramadoss’s next salvo: introduce pictorial warnings on cigarette packets. It has been 18 months since the government accepted the proposal, but there is no sign yet of these warnings.
Ramadoss recently suffered a serious loss of face. His long-running turf war with AIIMS Director Dr P. Venugopal ended with the Supreme Court reinstating the latter to his position at the prestigious institution, overturning a Parliamentary amendment to the AIIMS Act that, Venugopal argued, was inserted with the sole purpose of easing him out.
Apart from making headlines, these controversies have changed nothing on the ground for this 39-year-old heir apparent at PMK, a caste-based political party in Tamil Nadu run by his father S. Ramadoss. Says Cho Ramaswamy, noted actor, playwright and columnist, wryly: “He may next seek a ban on film scenes depicting people walking on the road as they are also dangerous these days.” Too far fetched? With Ramadoss, one never knows.