Rajya Sabha passes Ayurveda Bill 2020; MP Subhash Chandra applauds government move


New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday (September 16) passed the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020. The bill seeks to merge three institutes, which will be called the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, in Jamnagar, Gujarat which will be given the status of an institution of national importance. Notably, the bill was earlier passed in the Lok Sabha. 

Speaking in the Upper House, Independent MP Subhash Chandra, Chairman of the Essel Group, said, “Germany and Switzerland have done more work on Ayurveda than us. It is a shame for us that even after independence, we did not bring Ayurveda back to its glory. Only in November 2014, the government made Ayush separate and I applaud the government for doing so”.

Stating that China has taken 28 per cent market share of Ayurveda products globally, Subhash Chandra demanded that promotion of Ayurveda be made a national mission to cut on billions of dollars on western allopathic medicines and strengthen the Indian economy.

Subhash Chandra further said that Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, had once stated before independence that Ayurveda should be given first priority in the public-medical system after independence.

Addressing the House, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “It has been chosen without any bias, and in the most objective manner because it is the oldest Ayurveda institution created by the government back in 1956. This is the only collaborating centre for the WHO in the whole world for Ayurveda.”

“In the last 20 years, students from 65 countries have come to this place. On every parameter we can say that it is the number one institution which deserves this status,” he added.

He said there are 103 institutions of national importance in the country but not even one Ayurveda institute, and “this is the oldest collaborating centre with the WHO in Ayurveda” and qualified on every parameter to get such status.

The institute has imparted training to students from 65 countries in 20 years, he said and added that it has inked 30 pacts with different countries.

The minister, however, said that there is National AYUSH Mission to support other such institutions and government was ready to support them to get international stature when time comes.

“Not only me but the whole government led by Prime Minister is a strong supporter of Ayurveda to the extent” that after forming government in 2014, one of the first decisions was on promotion of Ayurveda.

Under the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, the government has approved Rs 4,000 crore for the cultivation of medicinal plants and supporting farmers, he said and expressed appreciation for Ayurveda and its usefulness for the society and also for strengthening healthcare systems of the world.

The proposed institute at Jamnagar would have a 15-member committee including the Minister of Ayush, Secretary of Ayush and Secretary of Health & Family Welfare of the Gujarat Government, along with three MPs in which two would be from Lok Sabha and one from Rajya Sabha.

Lok Sabha has already approved the bill in the last session, in which three Jamnagar, Gujarat-based institutes — Institute of Post Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, Gulabkunwerba Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya and Institute of Ayurveda Pharmaceutical Sciences –would be conglomerated.

Earlier, participating in the debate on the bill, Binoy Viswam (CPI) termed Kerala’s Kottakkal Ayurvedic Shala as the pride of the nation and stressed the need for promoting Ayurveda in Kerala, describing it as the real Centre for Ayurveda.

K Keshava Rao (TRS) accused the government of being selective in selecting institutes of national eminence, saying Telangana too has many institutes eligible to be one.

K K Ragesh (CPI-M) sought to know why the government did not consider Kerala for the tag as the state has many ayurveda institutes and is also home to rare medicinal plants.

M Thambidurai (AIADMK) suggested that there should be an institute of national importance in each state.

Biswajit Daimary (BPF) demanded setting up of such an institute in the Northeast, while Dr Fauzia Khan (NCP) said there should be elections for selecting the head of the institute.

Narain Das Gupta (AAP) demanded proper infrastrucure in Ayurvedic institutes and added that its importance has been established during COVID-19.

Veer Singh (BSP) demanded that such institutes should also be set up Uttar Pradesh, while Ram Das Athawale (RPI) demanded the same for Maharashtra.

Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) said new structures are always welcome. “But if you do not back it up with a coherent inclusive vision, the structures have a tendency to become a graveyard for innovative ideas.” He pointed out that clause 6 of the bill provides for the composition of the institute in which 10 out of 14 members of the board are from the non-Ayurveda background. 

The Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) is a cluster of highly-reputed institutions, namely Institute for Post Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, Shree GulabKunverba Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya, and Institute of Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Sciences, Maharshi Patanjali Institute for Yoga Naturopathy Education & Research (to be made part of the Department of Swasthvritta of the proposed ITRA).

These institutions came up over many decades and together made a unique family of Ayurveda institutions existing in close proximity. The synergies among the different constituent institutions will help ITRA to demonstrate high standards of such education and to emerge as a lighthouse institution to the entire AYUSH sector.

The decision comes at a time when global interest in health solutions based on traditional wisdom is at an unprecedentedly high level and ITRA is poised to take Ayurveda education to new vistas, it added. 

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