Shifting Paradigms of Ayurvedic Education in Global Perspective
Prof. Padma Shri Ram Harsh Singh, India
Ayurveda is the oldest system of life science and health care originating from India thousands of years ago continuing in an unbroken professional practice even today. Ayurveda seems to have been the world view of its time which shrank to Indian subcontinent due to the fast emergence of European medicine in colonial India. Now with the changing scenario of the health needs of the people world over and the unfolding inadequacies of main stream conventional medicine in coping with the challenges of the newer health hazards such as stress, population aging and life-style related non-communicable diseases, Ayurveda has started re-globalizing. In this context Ayurvedic education and research are of prime significance.
In India, Shri Lanka and Nepal Ayurveda is a fully official system of medicine and these countries have evolved a suitable regulation and infrastructure for Ayurvedic education and practice. Except Five countries in Europe and few states in US in other countries Ayurveda is not yet officially recognized nor there is scope of respectable employment in this sector. Hence at this stage the Indian model of five and half years full time UG course and further three years full time specialized PG course in Ayurveda may not be feasible in western countries. US and EU Ayurveda enthusiasts should develop their own model, of course Indian experts may help in developing the model according to the need and demand of the course seekers. Later when the number of seekers grows and legal situations change one can think of uniform global model of Ayurvedic education as was done in case of modern medicine and more recently Traditional Chinese medicine which has now become the licensed system of medicine in US. The principle of globalization with local perspective is the right policy.
Government of India has already started taking initiatives by creating Professorial Ayurveda Chairs in different countries on its own cost besides considering to establish a Council for International Cooperation in India with subunits in different member countries. This Council besides Advisory role may also accredit the quality of courses, programs and institutions involved in Ayurveda related activities outside India.
The Indian Perspective
Currently there are over 265 Undergraduate and 65 Postgraduate Ayurvedic colleges producing over 12000 UG and 2000 PG new Ayurveda doctors every year with about 450000 registered Ayurveda practitioners in the field, besides many centers of postgraduate education and a huge research organization controlled by fully legalized regulatory bodies like CCIM and CCRAS respectively. However, the entire organization still needs lot of improvement in terms of policies, programs and the infrastructure besides enhanced public fund support.
In case of Ayurveda education in India the long drawn issues are 1. Basic school qualification for admission to UG courses, 2. Distribution of different subjects in 3 or 4 professional segments of the course, 3. The issue of strengthening the knowledge of Sanskrit language, 4. To determine the quantum of complementary knowledge of modern medicine needed for Ayurvedic graduates, 5. To induce scientific temper and work culture among the students, 6. To promote the professional competence among the graduates so that they practice Ayurveda without undue dependence on conventional medicine, 7. Strategies of bilateral integration including the issue of adding essentials of Ayurveda in MBBS course using the experiences of the success story of TCM in China, 8. Promotion and regulation of Ayurved education, research and practice out-side India, 9. Examination reform and student-centered teaching with ability to fruitfully interface the Shastra with science and the clinic. 10. Strategies to strengthen the infrastructure particularly the quality of teachers and hospital facilities in Ayurvedic colleges.
The Global Perspective
As mentioned at the outset considering the ongoing globalization of Ayurveda today there is a need to develop interim courses and curricula to suit the course seekers today in the west where Ayurveda is not yet fully recognized, besides defining the kind of Ayurvedic practice which can be legally pursued globally. Ayurveda is dominantly a health oriented system and has real strength in promotive and preventive health care. Ayurvedic doctors may flourish more as a health practitioner than as a medical practitioner. Hence the Ayurvedic education outside India needs to be suitably tailored. As stated earlier the Ayurveda enthusiasts in US and EU should develop their own model of Ayurvedic education and Indian experts may help. The initiatives taken by NAMA in US to develop part time Diploma, Certificate, Bachelors and Masters courses in Ayurveda as are in operation at certain Ayurveda colleges in US and Ayurveda programs designed for qualified Registered doctors and therapists in Germany and similar other courses in different countries are good attempts but need improvement and streamlining and better operation.
Government of India has already started taking initiatives in terms of creating Ayurveda Chairs in different countries and is considering launching a Council for International Cooperation to promote the ongoing program. The Indian research organizations are also playing activism to conduct scientific research in the science of Ayurveda and the therapeutics of Ayurveda to transform Ayurveda as a evidence based system of medicine which is the prime public demand in India and world over. It is hoped these researches will help sustain the globalization movement of Ayurveda.