The Newsletter 65 Autumn 2013

Directions for the revitalization of Ayurveda in the 21st century

Darshan Shankar

Why is Ayurveda, the Indian Health Science, not taking off on a scale that makes it much more visible on the national and global stage? One of the chief reasons for the subdued status of Ayurveda – though certainly not the sole reason – appears to be that Indian State and Central governments have put it on a starvation diet for more than 60 years (since independence), and before that, India’s colonial rulers treated Ayurveda even worse. Thus for more than 150 years Ayurveda has survived largely through community (not state) support for its health services with subcritical public investment in research, education, clinical services, public health, development of standards and industrial production. In 2012, Ayurveda received only around 1.5% of the national health budget; at state levels, except in the state of Kerala, Ayurveda received only around 0.5% of the health budgets of the Indian states (provinces). Thus all of Ayurveda’s achievements in research, product development, education and clinical practice are of an insufficient scale, which is unfortunately only noticed by the most discerning of observers. To the majority of people in India and the West the potential of Ayurveda goes unnoticed. Today, however, the time has come for the growth of Ayurveda. This is not due to a sudden upsurge of creative energy within the Ayurvedic community, but essentially because of the limitations of western biomedicine and the inevitable and serious search for alternatives.

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