Indian government has set up a new ministry to promote
alternative therapies such as yoga and traditional ayurveda medicine as part of
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mission to raise the appeal of home-grown health
Shripad Naik, has taken charge as India's first minister for
Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH).
Narendra Modi has repeatedly called for greater use of the
country's health remedies and exercises, part of a push to promote traditional
learning. During his first address at the United Nations in September, he urged
more people to take up yoga and called for an International Yoga Day.
"This is our system and it has not received enough
importance. We will take it to the masses," said Shripad Naik.
The formation of the ministry comes days after the
government formed plans to set up a regulator for traditional drugs. The
ministry aims to expand India's presence in the estimated $100 billion global
market for alternative medicine.
Ayurveda and other types of traditional medicine, called
unani and siddha, are well-liked in smaller towns, and yoga has a huge
following across India and in the West.
Use of traditional medicines is also promoted by country's
most popular yoga guru, Swami Ramdev. He sells ayurvedic medicines and holds
yoga camps attended by thousands in India and abroad.
But critics often question the effectiveness of traditional
remedies over modern medicine. Modi said on Sunday ayurveda and mainstream
drugs were not mutually exclusive.
"There is a need for larger awareness in ayurveda. It
can't be limited to a doctor only. Our ancestors made good health a part of
life," he said.
However, the success of the new ministry would depend on
additional budgetary allocation, a government official.