What is Indian Medical Association

  • Find answers to What is the purpose/objectives of IMA? What is its legal status? Is it appropriate to endorse products?

Recently in the news was a legal fight in the Supreme Court (SC) between the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Patanjali. It was claimed that Patanjali’s advertisements are misleading. This article is about not the legal matter which the SC will decide. 


What aroused my curiosity was the identity of IMA? Is it a government appointed or approved body or an NGO? 


When the word ‘Indian’ is used in any association, the ordinary consumer perceives it to have a government association. So what is IMA’s legal status!


I visited the IMA website on 2/3/2024. What is within inverted commas is from their site. 


Q1. Is the IMA a government body?



Q2. When was the IMA formed?


Q3. What is the purpose of the IMA and does it have branches? 

“IMA is the only representative voluntary organization of Doctors of Modern Scientific System of Medicine, which looks after the interest of doctors as well as the well being of the community at large. Today, I.M.A is a well established organization with is Headquarters at Delhi and State/Terr. Branches in 34 States and union Territories. It has over 3,30,000 doctors* as its members through over 1750* local branches spread all over the country.” Read more


IMA publishes a Scientific Journal ‘Journal of the Indian Medical Association’ i.e. sent to members. “IMA has academic wings for general practitioners, for specialists and for online courses they have wings called IMA College of General Practitioners IMA Academy of Medical Specialities and IMA AKN Sinha Institute respectively.”


It appears that the modern system of medicine means exclusively Allopathy only. 


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Inspite of my late parents and grand fathers being allopathic doctors, the use of words ‘modern scientific systems of medicine’ does not read well.


My late Doctor Mother died pre-maturely due to the carelessness of doctors in a leading modern care hospital. It is seventeen years since, but it still hurts.  


I am exposed to Ayurveda and seen treatment is not random but based on logic and it is scientifically grounded. 


IMA is not in favour of integrated medicine. “On Saturday, union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya spoke about the government’s decision to set up centres in all medical colleges and government hospitals that would offer a mix of traditional and modern medicine. Practitioners of allopathy have long been opposing this approach.” Source Hindustan Times


Read   Ayurveda and Modern Concepts by Dr R D Lele


Clearly, there are contentious issues between modern and traditional medicine.


Q4. What are the objectives of the IMA?

They are three. “Promotion and Advancement of Medical and allied sciences in all their different branches. Improvement of public Health and Medical Education in India. Maintenance of honour and dignity of medical profession.”


However, the IMA is not an institution like say the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India that is a statutory body (conducts exams too) created by an Act of Parliament. Medical education in India is decentralized. However, any medical qualification granted to a student has to be from a college approved by the Central government for the degree to be recognized under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956. (Section 10 (B))


Sources say that the Doctors Oath, on qualifying, is done at the college level.


Ayurvedic doctors are covered under a statutory body CCIM (Central Council of Indian Medicine) that comes under  the Ministry of Ayush. 


Q5. What is legal status of IMA?

As per the bye-laws on its site, the IMA is registered under Society Act XXI of 1860. It is governed by the Societies Registration Act, 1860. It is not constituted by an Act of Parliament? The relevant statutory Act for modern scientific medicine professionals is the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.


Since the IMA is seeking donations for its new building (site visited on 2/3/24), I assume it has got income-tax department approval to issue donation receipts under section 80G of the Income-Tax Act 1961, means donors get income-tax benefit for amount donated.   


Read   Section 12A of the Income-Tax Act


Q6. Who can become a member?

According to bye-law 12, “Any person registered with a Medical Council of India/State Medical Council*** on the basis of his/her medical qualification as defined in the Indian Medical Degrees Act 1916(Act VII of l916) and included in the schedules to the Indian Medical Council Act 1956.”


Q7. What is this about IMA endorsing brands? 

I recall some brand advertisements on TV saying product approved by Indian Medical Association, a form of endorsement by IMA. To read more on endorsements It is not known if the IMA receives any fees for such endorsement. For an alternate view click


Q8. In which case is it appropriate for IMA to use the word Indian?  

If it continues to use the word Indian it could say in brackets, registered under the Societies Act, 1860. This should be mentioned in voice over in TV advertisements too, w.r.t. products that it endorses. This away, consumers become aware that the endorsement is not by a government of India constituted body.


Q9. Was the IMA registered under FCRA (Foreign Exchange Control Regulation Act)

According to this Economic Times report of January 2022, “IMA was amongst the 6,000 entities whose registration deemed to have ceased. Either they did not apply for approval or their application was rejected by the Union Home Ministry.”


FCRA registration permits an organization to receive funds from abroad. Why would a voluntary organization of Indian Doctors receive funds from abroad? It might be worth knowing who the donors were, the year and amount of money received year wise.   


A simple search of Ministry of Home Affairs website on 2/2/24 showed, ‘List of FCRA registered associations’ for years 2012 to 2021 under Delhi does not show the name of the IMA. 


Q10. Are the audited accounts on the IMA website?

I looked for a link on the IMA website but could not find audited accounts. 


Utmost care has been taken in culling out data. Errors if any are unintentional or without malafide intent. It is not intended to defame or cast aspersions on any organization or profession.


Wish Patanjali talks more about the goodness of Ayurveda. Negativity cannot sustain! To my mind, use the strengths of each system of medicine to benefit the patient. All can co-exist, is the Bharatiya way. 


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Also read

1. Why did SC ban Patanjali from advertising its products

2. IMA to endorse Pepsico food products – earlier endorses Dettol and Lizol

3. Controversial statement (2021 report) by IMA’s Dr J Austin Jaylal

4. 2021 reports on products endorsed by IMA with advertisement video

5. What will IMA certify next?

6. 2021 art What exactly is the value of an IMA certification

7. Section 12A of the Income-tax Act for 80 G certification

8. Home Remedies

9. Legal issues guide for Non-profits in India  

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