Updated: April 21, 2022 2:00:23 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Wednesday that the Centre would soon introduce a special Ayush visa category for foreign nationals who want to come to India to take advantage of traditional medicine, as part of initiatives to promote medical tourism.
“With this visa, it will make travel easier for accessing Ayush therapies (in India),” said PM Modi while speaking at the inaugural session of the Global Ayush Investment and Innovation Summit 2022 at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. He added that the Centre has a plethora of initiatives to encourage and promote the Ayush sector, including the establishment of a digital portal to connect medicinal plant farmers with Ayush product manufacturers.
World Health Organization (WHO) chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Union Ayush Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel were present at the session.
Adding that investment summits are key in taking any sector forward, Modi highlighted that the idea for an Ayush summit came to him during Covid-19 “when there was widespread panic across the world”. “We saw how ayurvedic medicines, Ayush kada and many such other products were aiding people to increase immunity. During the times of Covid-19, turmeric export from India increased manifold. Innovation and investment increase the capability of any sector manifold. It is time now to increase investment as much as possible in the Ayush sector,” said Modi.
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Pointing at “limitless possibilities of innovation and investment”, Modi highlighted initiatives planned by the government for the near future to further encourage this sector, including aiding farmers, encouraging startups, and incentivising medical tourism.
“Be it natural supplements, drug supply chains, Ayush-based diagnostics or telemedicine, there are possibilities of innovation and investment all around. To encourage startups in the traditional medicine sector, many steps have been taken…Some days ago, an incubation centre was inaugurated under the All India Institute of Ayurveda…it is the age of unicorns (a privately held startup with a valuation of $1 billion) in India among startups. In the four months of 2022, 14 startups in India joined the unicorn club. I am sure, very soon, we will see a unicorn emerging from the Ayush sector,” said Modi.
Highlighting the scope of a sustainable digital marketplace, Modi added: “The Himalayas is known for herbal plants…our government is encouraging the production of herbal and medicinal plants. It can be an avenue of sustainable income and has scope for employment generation. The market for such plants is, however, limited and specialised. Such farmers must find it easy to associate with the market. Thus the government is working speedily for an e-marketplace which is a portal that would connect companies making Ayush products with farmers growing medicinal plants.”
Modi added that an ‘Ayushmark’ is also being developed which will be stamped on products to give an assurance of high quality globally. “In the past few years, we have signed more than 50 MoUs. For Ayush, a huge export market will open up across more than 150 countries…India is an attractive medical tourism destination,” he said.
Speaking on the prowess of traditional medicines, Modi cited an example of Rosemary Odinga, daughter of former Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga, who was reportedly cured of blindness by Ayurveda treatment in Kerala. He said that ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ existed even in the time of Ramayana when “Hanuman brought herbs from the Himalayas for Lakshman when he fainted”.
Modi addresses Dr Tedros ‘Tulsibhai’
Meanwhile, in a lighter moment, Modi called Dr Tedros ‘Tulsibhai’ after the WHO chief had told the prime minister about his long association with India and Indian teachers during his childhood and university years. Dr Tedros is already like a Gujarati native, Modi said.
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