“Acceptance of AYUSH is becoming wider”
Soft-spoken Shripad Yasso Naik is Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homoepathy (AYUSH). He won his Lok Sabha seat of Panaji first in 1999, and has held it ever since, winning in 2004, 2009 and 2014. He speaks to India Empire’s Editor and Publisher Sayantan Chakravarty at his Lodhi Estate residence
UNION MINISTER OF STATE (IC), AYUSH
Do you think that more and more Indians are making a shift from the Western system of medicine, i.e. allopathy, to the Eastern system of medicine and therapy, i.e. AYUSH?
Yes, certainly. It was the Prime Minister’s brainchild to create the new AYUSH Ministry, and things are looking up for us with each passing day. We’ve witnessed how this Government has managed to give a real boost to the image of Yoga worldwide. We have been celebrating the International Yoga Day for the last three years on June 21. We never expected such a large number of countries across the world to accept the PM’s proposal in the UN General Assembly to adopt June 21 (the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere with special significance across nations) as International Yoga Day. Our Prime Minister had outlined in his speech that Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition, embodying unity of mind and body, thought and action. It was a holistic approach to health and well-being. I’m not against the Western system, but let us admit that most disciplines in the AYUSH system have been around for thousands of years. When the British came to India, they not only tried to enforce their system of medicine, but also tried to finish ours. But now, through awareness, more and more people are moving back to AYUSH. They know that the benefits are huge, and the side-effects are not there. The Eastern system is preventive. If you use it regularly, the chances of falling ill diminish. It is a powerful system. When we fall sick and go in for surgeries and post-operative rehabilitation we are looking at the Western system. There are huge side-effects of the chemicals used in Western-style medication whereas the AYUSH system uses pure medicines and extracts. In fact, some ‘pathies’ do not even require medicine. I am confident that if the momentum we’ve today continues for the next five to ten years, our medical budget will eventually come down because we’ll become a healthier nation.
What is the long-term vision that you have laid down for this Ministry?
We keep it simple. Our message is that if people stay healthy and fit, then the nation stays healthy and fit. If there is one ill person in the family, then the entire family suffers. Most of the time is spent visiting hospitals and doctors. The AYUSH system has no side-effects. It is cheaper. You can become your own doctor. The Rishis, our forefathers, have explained everything in their works very scientifically and methodically. Just imagine they didn’t have any laboratories thousands of years ago, but the fundamental quality of research they carried out was so good and pure that it is being applied meaningfully today.