What are you doing to popularise unani, naturopathy, siddha, etc. that come under your ministry?
We are taking the Ayush mission to the grassroots. Wherever the demand arises, we provide alternative forms of medicine, like unani and others. Then there are research centres in places like Hyderabad and Bangalore. Then there are schools like siddha, which are largely confined to two southern states. The scripts are largely in Tamil. We have told the practitioners that if they want it to grow beyond the confines of Tamil Nadu, they must get the script translated into other languages so that outsiders can study the discipline.
You have a number of projects under the ministry? Do you have enough Ayush experts?
Yes, we have! For instance, we have 350 ayurveda colleges and research centres. Similarly, we have 250 homeopathic colleges. Today, we have no less than 7 lakh Ayush practitioners. We have to ensure that all of them are gainfully utilised to spread our mission statement.
You wanted yoga to be introduced in schools, and you are working with the HRD ministry on the same. What’s the status of that?
We have proposed to the HRD ministry that yoga be introduced in schools from Class 5 onwards. Progress has been made on this, and shortly we should have resultson this.
You have also become the nodal agency for certifying yoga teachers?
Yes, we felt that the work of certifying 50,000 to 60,000 yoga practitioners by the HRD ministry was facing problems, so we thought of doing it under the Morarji Desai Yoga Institute. This should start soon.
There’s a huge controversy over the National Medical Commission Bill. One of the tenets of the Bill says that ayurvedic practitioners and others after a bridge course can practise allopathy. This is being resisted by allopathic doctors. How do you plan to address this?
Health is a state subject. In consultations with the health ministry, we found out that certain states were keen on such a measure. In far-flung areas that fall beyond the reach of allopathic doctors, the Bill stipulated that other practising doctors would be able to prescribe a limited number of medicines after passing the bridge course. But I am not aware of the latest developments, and I feel that such contentious issues must be resolved only through talks and negotiations.
You are undertaking a number of projects. Are you happy with the allocation in the Union Budget?
In the last few years, we have spent close to 100 per cent of the budget allocated. Last year, we were given Rs 200 crore more, and this year there has been a further 10 per cent hike in the budgetary allocation. Going by the demand of the people, and infrastructural needs, we feel we need more support and financial muscle.
Ayush has a lot of potential. What are the challenges facing it?
The main challenge is to make the people aware of the true potential of Ayush. When Indian was ruled by the British, they thrust upon on us the allopathic form of medicine, pushing traditional forms of medicine to the fringes.As a result, research and development in our traditional forms of medicine was affected. However, we are doing our best to take Ayush to the world outside. We have MoUs with 11 countries on Ayush; we have Ayush chairs in foreign universities, and there are as many as 28 information centres worldwide to make Aysuh popular.