India's new prime minister, Narendra Modi, is taking a major step to institute widespread well-being in the country by establishing a ministry dedicated to alternative health, including yoga and ayurveda.
The new ministry, AAYUSH, was previously a department in the health ministry. Shripad Naik has been appointed minister of state and will supervise the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy.
"This is our system and it has not received enough prominence," said Naik. "We will take it to the masses."
Reuters' Aditya Kalra reports:
The formation of the ministry comes days after the government unveiled plans to set up a regulator for traditional drugs. India wants to expand its presence in the estimated $100 billion global market for alternative medicine.
Ayurvedic and other types of traditional medicine, called unani and siddha, are popular in smaller towns, and yoga has a huge following across India and in the West. Homeopathy also finds wide acceptance in India.
Use of traditional medicines is also promoted by [sic] country's most popular yoga guru, Swami Ramdev. He sells ayurvedic medicines and holds yoga camps attended by thousands in India and abroad.
Modi is known for his dedication to health and wellness: He is a vegetarian and practices yoga daily. At a recent United Nations conference, he argued for the establishment of an International Yoga Day, which 50 other countries, including the United States and China, supported.
At the U.N., the prime minister said, "Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being."