New Delhi, Sep 16 (PTI) Parliament on Wednesday passed a bill to accord the status of an institution of national importance to a Jamnagar-based cluster of Ayurveda institutes.
The Bill - 'The Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020' - was passed by a voice vote in 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.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, responding to queries of members as to why the Gujarat institute alone was chosen for the national importance tag, said selection of the Jamnagar institute was not 'arbitrary' or 'biased' but it was chosen in a most objective manner being one of the oldest institutes under the category, established in 1956.
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 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.
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.
'Ayurveda has to develop. Changing needs are emerging. Research is a must. Centres of excellence are must for the country, he said.
'The capacity of Ayurveda in fighting COVID has been proven,' he claimed.
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.
Subhash Chandra (BJP) said, 'It is a shame for us' that even Germany and Switzerland have done more work on Ayurveda now and China has taken 28 per cent market share of Ayurveda products globally.
He 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.
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 graveyard for innovative ideas.' He pointed out that clause 6 of the bill provides for composition of the institute in which 10 out of 14 members of the board are from non-Ayurveda background. This top heavy approach will not add a value to the government's move of granting tag of national eminence, he said.
Vijaysai Reddy (YSRCP) and Ram Chandra Prasad Singh (JDU) also spoke.
While initiating the debate on the Bill on Tuesday, INC member L Hanumanthaiah had questioned the move to grant such a status to an institute from Gujarat while ignoring states like Kerala and Karnataka, which have a rich history of traditional Ayurveda system. PTI NAM MSS LUX NAM DV DV