Former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam died of cardiac arrest on Monday, aged 83, while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management-Shillong. He was passionate about the ancient Indian medicine system of Ayurveda. Kalam was keen to modernize Ayurveda on a global scale. This was revealed by Praful Patel, the chief of an international NGO, called International Ayurveda Foundation (IAF) in India, Britain and Switzerland.
Patel learnt of Kalam's love for Ayurveda when he met him in Rashtrapati Bhavan in November, 2005. Patel said, "We discussed the many challenges facing Ayurveda in India and abroad and sought his advice. He stressed the need to set up an Ayurveda Research and Development Center, both herbal and non-herbal products." Kalam desired it to be a joint effort of the Ayurvedic community and the Indian government. He had recommended that the center should provide fool-proof testing and certification of Ayurvedic and other traditional medicinal products about their quality, safety, stability and efficacy.
Patel said, "Such a multi-disciplinary lab would have qualified and experienced technical staff to operate sophisticated instrumentation, techniques for pharmacognostic, pharmacological, chemical and pharmaceutical standardization, the results of which would be internationally acceptable. The IAF has now developed a project for an Ayurveda Research and Development center which would be on the lines of western medicines."
Kalam was also keen to increase the production of medicinal plants of which the world produced $68 billion worth, with the Indian share barely being half a billion dollars, and China standing far ahead of our country. Patel recalled, "Kalam stressed that India has vast land in southern parts, the eastern states and in Himalayas which could be encouraged for the mass-scale growth of medicinal plants."
The then president Kalam said, "If any large company made such an investment anywhere in India, they could encourage the local farming community to join their venture, purchase the medicinal plants directly from them, something on the lines of the Amul Dairy experiment in Gujarat."
Patel further added, "The IAF has already prepared a project report on the R&D center and is hoping to get a syndicate which can achieve both the dream projects of Kalam."