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Enhancing the accountability of ayurvedic institutions

Dr. Amritpal Singh
Wednesday, August 9, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Ayurveda, the Indian System of Medicine, is the oldest system of healing and has been practiced since ancient times. The Department of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (Ayush), formerly known as Indian System of Medicine and Homeopathy - (ISM&H) was established in 2005 with the mandate of enhancing accountability of Ayurveda as a research based science. Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM), an apex body dealing with regulation of undergraduate (BAMS) and postgraduate studies (MD/MS) with Ayurveda suggests/recommends the Department of Ayush to permit/deny admission in undergraduate and postgraduate courses related to Ayurveda.

Recent trends in ayurvedic education
With Ayurveda is emerging as a mainstream medicine and keeping in mind the enhancing commercial viability, Department of Ayush has introduced several schemes to promote the level of education at the institutional level and research and development at industrial/pharmacy level. Barring few ayurvedic institutions like National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur, Gujarat Ayurvedic University, Jamnagar, and Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, there is a lack of proper infrastructure to undertake experiments. The majority of the institutions is imparting theoretical knowledge and exposure to clinical and industrial skills are almost lacking in pass outs. Uttaranchal Ayurvedic University, Dehradun and Guru Ravi Das Ayurvedic University, Hoshiarpur were opened up to boost up the level of education in Ayurveda in States of Punjab and Uttaranchal.

The process of admission in the colleges is through a common entrance test conducted by state universities. Admission to postgraduate courses in Ayurveda is conducted through the separate entrance test. As an instance, Admission in postgraduate courses in Ayurveda is conducted through Post Graduate Medical Entrance Test (PGMAT) in Bihar State. Periodic inspections are carried out by the State Ayush Department, Central Council of Indian Medicine, and the concerned/ affiliating University. Based on the reports submitted, the respective Ayurvedic College has been issued letters of intent/approval/denial.

The private colleges are taking right for admission through court cases, despite denial by the Department of Ayush/Central Council of Indian Medicine. This is definitely not doing well for the future of the passports and Ayurveda, as a science. Recently, we have witnessed mushroom growth of substandard Ayurvedic institutions across India. The chief mandate seems to be money minting thereby defeating the vision of the Department of Ayush. Lack of infrastructure, faculty, staff and adequate hospital facilities are the hallmark of these institutions. The future of students taking admission in these institutions is definitely bleak, since they are least familiar with provisions of Indian Medicinal Council Act 1970, registration and career aspects.

Performance of the ayurvedic colleges
The report on State Ayurvedic colleges of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, published by website www.performance.gov.in provides inside review of what actually is happening in these institutions. Government Ayurvedic College, Patna, has remained in the limelight due to affiliation problems with the Central Council of Indian Medicine. This institution was established in 1926 as remains as one of the oldest institute in India. Further, to add to the problem, the MD Ayurveda degree awarded by this institution (affiliated to B. R. Ambedkar Bihar University, Muzuffarpur) was unrecognized until gazette notification was introduced by the department of Ayush on 4th November, 2015 and was included in the list of recognized medical qualifications. Now, Aryabhatt Knowledge University, Patna has taken over the Government Ayurvedic College, Patna and norms as per Central Council of India have been adopted.

Government Ayurvedic College, Patiala is a premier institute catering to the need of Ayurvedic education In Punjab. It has produced distinguished scholars in the field of Dravyaguna (Ayurvedic Materia Medica) and Rasa Shastra (Indian alchemy) so as to cater the need of academia as well as industry. The situation right now is that the college has been denied permission in PG courses primarily due to lack of faculty.

Reasons for shortage of faculty
As per the rules and regulations of the Postgraduate Ayurvedic Education Act, PG/MD in concerned subject is essential for teaching at the graduate level, i. e. Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) degree in ayurvedic colleges. There is an acute shortage of faculty in certain subjects like Agad tantra and Vyavhar Ayurveda (Toxicology and Medical Jurisprudence) and Swasthavrtta (Social and Preventive Medicine). A similar trend is seen in Sharira Racha (Human Anatomy) and Sharira Kriya (Human physiology). However, this lacuna is sometimes covered with appointment of teacher with MSc (Anatomy) as academic qualifications.

Steps taken by Ayush Dept for improving quality of education
On the instructions of the Ayush Department, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, State Ayush Department is keeping vigil with the Government and Private Ayurvedic Institutions for implementing various provisions of the IMCC Act 1970 so as to ensure mandates of the National Ayush mission. At pharmaceutical and drug level, Ayush Department, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has made several amendments to the provisions of the Drug and Cosmetic Act related to the ayurvedic drugs. Similar steps are required at the institutional level so as to increase practicality and commercial viability of BAMS, MD and MS degree awarded in ayurvedic studies.  

Recently, the Ayush eligibility test started by Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) on the line parallel to UGC and CSIR is definitely an admirable step to promote genuine research in Ayurveda sciences. Lack of quality research has been largely a missing link in Ayurveda and this has definitely contributed to the non development of Ayurvedic sciences on the line parallel to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). We need to introduce innovative courses like MS (Traditional Medicine) initiated by National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali way back in 2007.

Steps taken by Central Council of Indian Medicine for improving quality of education
The Central Council of Indian Medicine has recently taken several welcome steps for improving quality education as follows:

  • Revised guidelines for appointment and relieving of teachers from recognized and approved Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani colleges,
  • The policy decision for Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani colleges to run or start postgraduate course,
  • Policy decision for salaries of teaching, non-teaching and hospital staff of the Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani colleges,
  • Guidelines for the issuance of teachers code number by the Central Council of Indian Medicine.

(Author is consultant, Universal Ayurvedic College, Lalru, Mohali, Punjab)


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