AYUSH – Indian Medicine System

Ayurveda Practice: Significant Challenges


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: AYUSH mission

Mains level: AYUSH mission, Promotion and Challenges in Ayurvedic practice


Central Idea

  • Ayurveda graduates face significant challenges in pursuing a career in Ayurvedic practice due to widespread scepticism about the efficacy of Ayurvedic theories and practices. Despite the publicity campaigns to promote Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH), the fact is that there is a trust-deficit in these systems.

What is National AYUSH Mission?

  • Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has launched National AYUSH Mission (NAM) during 12th Plan for im­plementing through States/UTs.
  • The basic objective of NAM is to promote AYUSH medical systems through cost effective AYUSH services, strengthening of educational systems, facilitate the enforcement of quality control of ASU &H drugs and sustainable availability of ASU & H raw-materials.
  • It envisages flexibility of implementation of the programmes which will lead to substantial participation of the State Governments/UT.
  • The NAM contemplates establishment of a National Mission as well as corresponding Missions in the State level.


What is Ayurveda?

  • Sanskrit word: Ayu means life, and Veda means knowledge or science Hence it is “The Science of Life.”
  • Ayurveda is a traditional system of medicine that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago.
  • It was taught orally from one generation to another by accomplished masters.
  • Some of this knowledge was later put into writing, but much of it remains inaccessible.
  • The principles of many natural healing systems, including Homeopathy and Polarity Therapy, have their roots in Ayurveda.

What are the reasons for the public’s skepticism towards Ayurveda?

  • Failed to keep the pace: The Ayurveda establishment has failed to keep pace with the intellectual and scientific advances of the times.
  • Archaic theories and lack of evidence-based quality: Archaic theories that are apt to arouse suspicion in the minds of educated patients are peddled as sophisticated dogmas. Treatments are not subjected to straightforward testing as they are claimed to be based on these theories
  • Perception that Ayurvedic treatments are slow to heal: Ayurveda treatments are slow to heal is another common view that characterises the public image of Ayurveda.

What are the challenges faced by Ayurveda graduates in pursuing a career in practice?

  • Practical usability is limited: Limited practical usability of ancient medical wisdom taught in college training
  • Lack of vibrant ecosystem of Research: Dependence on personal experimentation due to a lack of a vibrant ecosystem of science and research. The Research process involves a lot of trial and error with patients and predictably leads to an erosion of the practitioner’s reputation.
  • Necessity of complementing Ayurveda with modern medicine: Inability to treat all primary-care illnesses, necessitating complementing with modern medicine, which is prohibited in most states.
  • Unhealthy competition and advertisements: Competition from gimmickry and publicity-based practitioners.


How can appropriate policy-making help solve these challenges?

  • Proper training: Rejuvenating primary care by training Ayurveda graduates to become good primary-care doctors.
  • Evidence-based appraisal of Ayurveda: Conducting a vigorous evidence-based appraisal of Ayurvedic theories and practices to sift the usable from the obsolete
  • Practice modern medicines: Statutory decision to allow Ayurveda graduates to practice modern medicine in stipulated primary care areas



  • Ayurveda prioritizes patient benefit over gratification and emphasizes prevention through balance, diet, lifestyle, and herbs. Sustainable treatment requires a gradual transition to wellness. Ayurveda, science, and public welfare all stand to gain. What is needed is sincerity, straight-thinking, and some adventurism on the part of stakeholders.

Mains Question

Q. What is Ayurveda? Despite of the efforts to promote Ayurveda, the graduates face significant challenges in pursuing a career in Ayurvedic practice. Discuss.

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