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Union Budget 2020-21 places the AYUSH Sector on a sustainable path of growth, say sectoral experts

February 8, 2021
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The Union Budget 2021-22 has brought out numerous enablers and catalysts which the AYUSH Sector can tap, and taken together, they place the Sector on a sustainable path of growth, according to a panel of experts who interpreted the Budget for the AYUSH Sector recently.

Budget 2021-22 presented by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday allocated ₹2,970.30 crore to Ministry of AYUSH for the next fiscal year marking an increase of 40% of the corresponding figure (₹ 2122.08 Cr) of the current fiscal. Further, when the revised allocation of ₹ 2322.08 of the current fiscal is considered, the allocation marks an increase of 28%. To understand the impact of the current union budget on the AYUSH Sector and explain the same to the stake-holders, the Ministry of AYUSH organised a Panel Discussion on the topic "Implications of Union Budget 2020-21 for the AYUSH Sector" on 4th February 2021 in the digital mode. Representatives from the Industry, service sector, media, government and AYUSH practice joined the discussion, which was streamed through various digital platforms on 6th February 2021.

Shri Ranjit Puranik MD & CEO, Shree Dhootapapeshwar Ltd. and a representative of the AYUSH industry, was of the view that the Budget is part of a policy continuum which incorporates many of the views espoused in the recent past by the AYUSH industry, AYUSH Ministry and other stake-holders of the Sector. He cited various pointers from the Budget and said that scientific studies in AYUSH would increase and give impetus to AYUSH as a medical stream. He recollected that ₹ 4000 crore was recently earmarked for the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) for backward integration projects dealing with medicine plants. He added that about 8800 units are part of the AYUSH industry in India, and they are poised to capitalise on the various booster provisions that this Budget offers to the industry.

Shri Rajiv Vasudevan, MD & CEO, AyurVAID Hospitals, and Chairman, CII Ayurveda Group while welcoming the increase in outlay for AYUSH Sector, said that the bigger picture lies in the integrated vision for the broader healthcare sector (of which AYUSH is a part) which emerges from a closer look at the last few Budgets. There is roughly a 7% increase in outlay for the healthcare sector year by year. There is a health system perspective underlying these increasing allocations. He indicated that the impetus that the AYUSH Sector can draw from this Budget goes beyond the compart-mentalised allocations to the sub-sectors. Even a goal-defined project like the National Research Foundation, with its ₹ 10,000 cr outlay for 5 years, is a potential catalyst for the Ayurveda Sector, since a small proportion of this allocation is sufficient to produce world class evidence in a few areas of Ayurveda.  Presenting some statistics, Shri Vasudevan said that the increasing funding in the AYUSH Ministry on International Cooperation is a sign of how AYUSH Healthcare systems are contributing to India’s growing soft power. Spending on AYUSH delivery systems has increased from ₹ 122 Crore in previous year to ₹ 299 Crore this year, in turn leading to enhanced outcomes at ground level. The increase in allocation for the Champions in Services Sector Scheme from ₹ 15 crores in the previous year to ₹ 150 crores in the current year was striking, as it helps the Sector to acquire competitiveness in a global perspective. He added the larger Budget allocation for 2021-22 can continue to energise these activities and that the added funding will strengthen the AYUSH.

Dr. Geetha Krishnan, an Ayurveda expert presently working as Technical Officer in the Traditional Medicines Unit of the WHO described what this Budget represents for the AYUSH Sector as “growth and continuity”. Tracing the decadal trend in the 300% growth of outlay for AYUSH, he explained how the current Budget integrates the Sector into the country’s overall growth pattern. The influence of National Health Policy, 2017 has been visible in the government-led growth in healthcare infrastructure in the past 3 years, and has helped the AYUSH systems to grow faster and receive increased funding support. He mentioned that the building blocks of growth are coming into place and emphasised that it is important for AYUSH to become part of every healthcare system.

Inputs of Shri Udit Sheth, Vice President, National Yoga Asana Sports Federation, were mostly from the perspective of Yogasana and sports, and he said that the Budget has in it the necessary support to make Yogasana a global pursuit.  The increasing impact of AYUSH as a sector of the Indian economy in present times is no doubt significant, but this union budget goes further beyond. It has brought out enablers and catalysts, and it is now time for the Sector to grab the opportunities and take Indian traditional medicine to the world. By making AYUSH an appealing platform, our education and culture can be exported and India can become a wellness hub.

Adding to the discussion, Senior News Editor of Amar Ujala, Shri Shashidhar Pathak, emphasized on words like fitness and stress-free life, and the role of AYUSH in achieving these. He spoke about the acceptance of AYUSH during COVID-19 and said that the current Budget creates avenues for growing opportunities for traditional medicine. Going beyond an empowering entrepreneurial environment, there would be enough impetus for scientific research also, and this will help AYUSH to gain public confidence at the global level. He was confident that the Budget provisions for farm sector, especially the initiatives to boost farm incomes will lead to significant growth in medicinal plant cultivation. Shri Pathak was also of the opinion that there were various provisions in the Budget which could be tapped into for promotion of Yoga, considering that Yoga has a wide spectrum of beneficiaries from virtually every walk of life.

Dr. J.L.N. Sastry, CEO, National Medicinal Plants Board who moderated the Panel concluded by expressing happiness about the rich discussions that resulted from the session thanks to the insights the experts brought to the table. The Budget provisions were not in compartments any more, and the AYUSH Sector has acquired the maturity to grasp and make use of the inter-linked weave of opportunities that has been rolled out. The major pointers towards investment opportunities, scientific studies and active branding of AYUSH were underlined. The emerging entrepreneurial environment to which the Budget has significantly contributed, holds much potential to take Indian traditional Medicine to the world, in line with the already-visible trend of wider global acceptance of Yoga and Ayurveda.

MV/SJ

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