Expertise Talk with Dr. K. R. Kohli- Director, Directorate of Ayurveda, Govt of Maharashtra
Dr. Vasuvie Gupta
For his selfless contribution to the AYURVEDIC field, presently Director of Ayurveda Maharashtra is on the go of popularizing and regulating the Traditional Systems of Medicine. He is a renowned face in the field of Ayurvedic Research, teaching and treatment in India. His impeccable organisational skills have changed the dynamics of Ayurvedic proceedings. He has a touch of class, vision, perseverance, moreover leadership.
He is an exceptionally learned man with an MD in Ayurvedafrom Banaras Hindu University as well as a doctorate from the Mumbai University. He is a Gold Medalist from University of Jammu. He is highly regarded for his work and knowledge about Ayurveda.
His special area of interest is Research. He has conducted clinical studies on herbal preparations for conditions such as diarrhea, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and on irritable bowel syndrome. He has been the only Researcher to have worked on Diabetic Complications particularly Retinopathy and Neuropathy. He has also been the Investigator for the Indian Council of Medical Research Project on Ksharsootra in Treatment of Fistula in Ano .He has successfully managed four epidemics of hepatitis in Maharashtra State using Ayurvedic drugs.
He had been a member on the Board of Studies for Kayachikitsa at the BHU, a member of the High Level Committee for Development of Panchakarma in the Government colleges in Maharashtra, a member of the Research Committee at the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, besides being on the advisory/editorial boards of various scientific and industry periodicals.
He has widely traveled across continents and has been preaching the message of Ayurveda.
He has been a guest speaker at the 3rd International Congress on Phytomedicine held at Munich, Germany, and at the South West Yoga Conference at Austin, USA, 2000. He also has been a part of the Govt. of India delegations to Geneva on 3 occasions to represent Ayurveda on the occasion of World Health Assembly.
ME: How did you originally get interested in Ayurveda?
SIR: Basically I believe that whatever one wants in life, may not achieve & where ever you are taken by destiny is truly god desire!From childhood I dreamt of being an Air force pilot, but for some reasons I was not selected. The very first option that came ahead of me was to be a BAMS Doctor (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery). I got first rank in merit in 1st BAMS in the university. Hence, decided to strive and pursue to excel as an Ayurvedic Doctor and teacher.
ME: After achieving so many awards, working as a renowned face in the field of Ayurveda, being a teacher and Researcher, having experience from all sphere of Ayurveda industry, can you tell us a bit more about your experiences and what are the main challenges that Ayurveda is facing today in academics and industry?
SIR: On the whole, it’s right that i have had the practical experience of all the disciplines of Ayurveda. I have come into contact with these subjects. My experience all through has been very challenging exciting and a wonderful learning.
Started with lectureship in Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Wardha for 5 years, I comprehend that medical students have lot of curiosity to learn Ayurveda. It’s not that they don’t believe Ayurveda. There students are keen to learn about several aspects of Ayurveda diseases and their comparative study. Ayurveda is very close to culture and everyone wants to be associated with it. I have sensed that contemporary allopathic physicians are equally interested in Ayurveda as we all share same Indian culture .The only barrier between Ayurvedic and Contemporary medicine are manmade. I have noticed while teaching pharmacology, the issue of bhasmas is overstressed as being one of the major factors of kidney damage without making them realise the potential and power of Ayurveda. That one single lecture of nephrotoxicity remains detrimental for students for whole life. Hence, there is an urgent need to bridge this gap.
Then I was selected to be the Associate Professor, Professor and then Dean of most premier Institute of Ayurveda R.A. Podar Ayurvedic Medical College of Govt. of Maharashtra in Mumbai .During my tenure, I realized many are luminous and deserving convent educated students. There is a strong disconnect between the student’s aspirations, deliberation and curriculum. Right away imposing, bombarding them with the subjects of Ayurveda which are absolutely alien to them, makes them feel they have landed to an erroneous place. Thus, there is need to fill the loop hole by partaking, conversations and exposing the 1st yr students with successful professionals and physicians of different disciplines of Ayurveda, with distinctive approaches and knowledge. This will make students feel more proud and involved in their own discipline. They will look forward for similar experiences in life. For this pace, directive has already been given to all the educational institutes of Maharashtra.
As far as teaching is concerned, it’s a very vital and key factor in Ayurvedic learning institutes. The necessities like bed side teaching, diagnostic procedures and more importantly the confidence and self belief in professors and students are lacking- which is a major concern! Some lecturers are good practitioners but are not good mentors and vice versa. Even after having virtuous and experienced educationalist in Ayurvedic institutes, they confine themselves with teaching only. The teachers normally overlook their role as exemplar to motivate and support students. To be a good educator, one needs to be a good citizen, good human being with good human values. All are mandatory requirements.
Most of the institutes have to improve their standards. Mentor has to deliberate the way student aspires because it is the knowledge that empowers you. Our main concern is to check the outlay of teaching methods and to educate with knowledge and skill. Excellent teaching skills and information exchange are required to train students to effectively become good clinicians.
Being in Dabur India Limited, I was actively associated with Manufacturer’s Association and had been playing an important role in dialogue, negotiations and lobbying for the interests of the Ayurvedic Industry with AYUSH and other regulatory agencies.
I became aware that academics and industry lack a point of convergence. They go parallel, without considering each other’s view points. Conflicting views and ignorant attitude will never unravel the issues. Therefore we must create platforms where academics and industry can transact, influence and interact with their notions. This will happen when industry will recruit Ayurvedic professionals of various specialities of Rasashastra, Dravyaguna etc in their laboratories and manufacturing units. In turn the students will understand the framework, technical and organisational skills of industry. This will increase amenities, intensify the bond, trust and mutual confidence amongst industry and academics.
ME: People who have taken initiatives and discovered capitalistic opportunities in Ayurveda, apparently doesn’t belong to the field of Ayurveda like Pharma Industry, Co-operate houses etc. what do you have to say about it?
SIR: Yes, it’s true that Non –Ayurvedic people have cashed in on the opportunity to earn fortunes. If an Ayurvedic doctor doesn’t create business opportunity, there is no point in telling if somebody else is doing it. Because what they are doing is business and they are equally upgrading Ayurveda by taking Ayurvedic view point to every household .They are playing our role that we should have played. And if we want to ensure our Ayurvedic professionals to take the lead they should work more towards improving not only their clinical skills but also their communication, counselling and management skills which is beyond the scope of today’s syllabus.
ME: Ayurveda is highlighted as spa, massage or an herbal medicine or so called “jadibuti” Ayurveda and not a concept based Ayurveda. What do you have to say about it?
SIR: It’s a sense of duty of one and all that are connected with Ayurveda directly or obliquely to promote, educate, create awareness about the power of Ayurveda. It can be done via conducting exhibitions, radio talk shows, lecturers, TV Shows, Camps etc in the right perception. For creating the precise public image of authentic Ayurveda by hoardings, advertisements on channels, FM Radio are all been done through AYUSH. Specific schemes are started and that’s the right approach .Advertisement done for the interest of commercial are dictating the type of Ayurveda offered in the spas and resorts. It’s our responsibility to increase the public perception globally. Until and unless we teach the people and enlighten them, there are going to be misconceptions. In fact, things have started falling in line. There is lot of awareness spreading gradually in the right direction.
ME: On discussion with some of the Ayurveda students, one of the very main reason for graduates to not to choose Ayurveda as a career option is the lack of white collar opportunities and low pay scale in the field. Do you agree with it?
SIR: Ayurvedic health system has not yet been incorporated in railways, defence, corporate and other govt. and non govt. organisations. AYUSH and Ayurvedic treatments are not reimbursable from many insurance companies as well. Equal opportunities to Ayurvedic doctors have been denied. Hence, there is need of educating these organisations about the potential of Ayurvedic medicines and treatments.
In medical stream the concept of pyramid system is followed where in the availability of higher studies is in proportion to the undergraduate seats but in Ayurveda we don’t have pyramid system at all. For over 3100 BAMS doctors coming out of institutions every year, we have just around 150 seats in govt. and aided colleges. Around 200 seats are available in private colleges which normally students can’t afford because of high fees structure.
Concern is about creating opportunity in industry and education system. Setback is that CCIM, AYUSH; Ayurvedic colleges have not raised their paradigm which affected Ayurvedic students to go through. 3000 Under Graduates/ 100-150 Post Graduates .Such a poor ratio and system failure has not left with many opportunities for students to reach further in the field of Ayurveda.
CCIM, government (AYUSH) and government aided institutes should immediately take decision in increasing and allotting free seats particularly for professors, lecturers as did by MCI all over country. Employment opportunities are very low after graduation as we don’t left with enough post graduation seats.
ME: WHAT ARE THE EFFORTS TO BE MADE TO CONVINCE THE WEST ABOUT AYURVEDA?
SIR: Ayurveda is an ancient medicine system of the Indian subcontinent. The origin of the Ayurvedic medications and therapeutic approaches of Ayurved can be traced back to the Vedic period. It might not be very important to convince west about our traditional medicine. But if we wish to extend our wings, then yes, we ought to give them the proof of efficacy as well that of safety of Ayurvedic medicines. Anything that stands the validity by scientific methods shall stay and that is the only mantra for success. We have already made quite a few success stories which have been presented on WHO platforms and even to Parliamentarians of UK. Department of AYUSH has been working aggressively to prove the mettle of Ayurved across the globe. There is no doubt that a lot is still needed to be done and any new researches creating evidence base for Ayurved shall be welcome. Due to the efforts of Department of AYUSH, the western world has already started acknowledging the scientific basis of Ayurveda. It is still a while before Ayurvedic medicines are allowed to be practiced and sold in European Union and UK. Hungary already recognises Ayurved. US are also a good believer of Ayurved and have opened gates for Ayurvedic practitioners and medicines. The only agony is that most of these western nations recognise Ayurvedic Medicines as Diet supplements or nutritional products. Chinese medicine has made inroads and similarly we shall also have to work a lot to achieve success. Although Ayurveda is an official and popular system of medicine in India, the does not recognise as Official system. There are doubts also raised from time to time on the safety of Ayurvedic medicines in the international arena. But still Ayurved has kept gaining ground at global level because of the side effects of contemporary allopathic medicines, the cost of western medicines, anti-biopharma choices, holistic philosophies and rejuvenation therapies.
Ayurved is an unbroken tradition of practice for over thousands of years. This practice has blended and amalgamated so much with the Indian culture that the faith factor is very high. The believability makes people access Ayurvedic medicines and it is our prime duty to capture the complete faith by giving excellent results.
Lot of Governmental support is need for all the sectors of Ayurved be it growers/cultivators, manufacturing units, educational institutions or practioners. It is the hard work on every sector which shall increase the credibility of Ayurved at all levels. Efforts have to be made for generating evidence for efficacy and the relevance of Ayurveda in this contemporary world.
ME: what is the scope of speciality clinics in Ayurveda?
SIR: There is a huge scope for speciality clinics in Ayurveda. In fact such specialty clinics will help us generate evidence much faster and will also gain a lot of popularity as people will always believe one who has expertise in a particular speacialty. Personally I have been pursuing the specialty of Diabetes and having worked in the field of Diabetes I have realised that people always desire to attend an Ayurved Physician who practices his specialty like gynaecology, dermatology, orthopaedics, diabetes etc rather than a general physician. Through ATM I would like to send message to every Ayurvedic doctor that they must stick to practice of atleast one speciality because this is the demand of today’s era and this is the way people want to see Ayurved grow.
ME:WHERE DO YOU SEE AYURVEDA 20 YEARS DOWN THE LINE.
SIR: I am absolutely optimistic and for this optimism every one of us shall have a greater role to play.
Yes, there are huge challenges and opportunities coming up in the coming two decades down the line. Ayurveda is now increasingly getting acceptance all over the world as an alternative line of treatment due to its cost-effectiveness, efficacy, low toxicity, and few adverse effects. It is for these reasons that Ayurved has become indispensable and a viable choice.
By now, AYUSH has commenced its utmost efforts through developmental projects. Awakening to the potential, the Central Government has announced a separate national policy on the Indian Systems of Medicine & Homoeopathy (ISM&H) to boost and promote indigenous medicine. The health care infrastructure under AYUSH available in India consists of 3,845 hospitals with 65,159-bed capacity, 23,630 dispensaries, and 439 undergraduate colleges. 96 colleges having Post Graduate Departments 9,226 licensed manufacturing units and 6.95 lakh registered practitioners of Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy in the country. An outlay of Rs 775 crore has been allocated under the Tenth Five – Year Plan. The Plan allocation for 2004-2005 was Rs 181 crore.
ME: What are the threats of globalisation in India and world?
SIR: Being the WHO CONSULTANT on Traditional Asian Medicine for South East Asia, I comprehend that there shall be a huge demand for Ayurveda from the world community of consumers. Equally well shall be response of the Indian Ayurvedic industry to guide Ayurveda’s movement toward globalization. Now it is duly recognised by international agencies like WHO. Many of the Ayurvedic medicines have gained popularity for specific disease curing agents as well. The best example is of Arjuna Tree Bark in Coronary Heart disease. The administrations and the communities throughout the world are realizing the importance and practical utility of Ayurvedic Medicines and have started advocating its cause more forcefully.
The growing popularity of Ayurveda around the globe has also thrown new challenges before the Ayurvedic students, teachers and researchers. The standardisation and production of quality drugs are an important challenge if exports have to grow. It is also the regulatory environment which will guide the globalisation of Ayurved. The most important is European Union regulation where Ayurveda is classified as a herbal medicine, and under the clause any medicine has to be in European Union for 15 years to be accepted by the European Union. It is the toll of the death-knell for Ayurveda, if the regulation stands. A large number of herbals from India have already been banned from European Union markets from March 31, 2011 when the THMPD has come into force.
Now all herbal products in the EU’s 27 member states seeking to make claims must be registered through the appropriate national medicines agency, or face market prohibition. No Ayurvedic or Chinese botanical has yet won THMPD approvalnor approval under the EU nutrition and health claims regulation.
The hot zones are those where the fauna and flora is in danger. The ban on Pushkarmoola, Kutha and Shringa along with many endangered species also needs to be looked at very seriously. Hot zone is declared by regulatory agencies where plants are in danger. International institution has produced the CITES list and the names of plants found in CITES list are not allowed to be traded at all. Hence there is an urgent need for a cultivational activity on a large scale. It has to be taken up as a mission by Govt. of India so that Ayurved can survive and the people can keep getting Ayurvedic medicines at reasonable rates. Therefore cultivation, protection in situ and preservation of the forests to allow the rare plant material to thrive in the jungles are of utmost importance. National Medicinal Plants Board and Department of AYUSH have taken quite a few steps in that direction and there needs to be much more for accomplishement.
ME: Any message for ATM readers ….
SIR: Ayurveda Today Magazine is written in very simple English and can be well understood. The team of ATM is very committed and I wish them great success in their endeavour to popularise Ayurveda to the every household. Further I am also told that “Ayurveda Today” has also undertaken many programmes like “Holistic Yoga”and “Ayurveda holistic center”recently. I must compliment them. The mission which Ayurveda Today has cannot be completed by any individual and it has to be a teamwork which will realise the goals that have set. Looking at the very pious cause for reaching Ayurved to the people, I think it becomes the duty of every one of us to support this young team so that they can contribute better.