Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Alluring alternative
Manish Kumar Singal

Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine, is derived from the words ‘ayu’ (life) and ‘veda’ (science). This science is believed to be the oldest method of treatment that evolved in India around 600 BC. Further, ‘ayu’ comprises the ‘sarira’ (body), ‘indriya’ (senses), ‘satva’ (mind) and ‘atma’ (spirit).

Over the ages, this science has developed so much that ayurvedic doctors can now even operate on any patient to cure a disease.

The ayurvedic medicinal system believes that a human being and nature should be in perfect equilibrium and that if a particular disease occurs, it means this equilibrium has been disrupted. As per ayurveda, diseases are an imbalance between the body’s ‘vata’, ‘pitta’ and ‘kapha’. The ‘vata’ means the nerve energy, ‘pitta’ is the catabolic fire energy and ‘kapha’ denotes the anabolic nutritive energy.

The Central Council for Research, Indian Medicine and Homoeopathy (CCRIMH) was established in 1969 by the Government of India. In 1978, the CCRIMH was split into four separate councils, one each for ayurveda and siddha, unani, yoga and naturopathy, and homoeopathy.

The Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS), under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, is engaged in research in various fundamental and applied aspects of ayurveda.

Course clues

There are 221 colleges in India that offer the Bachelor in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) degree.

These institutions are affiliated to different universities all over the country. These institutions produce around 12000 ayurvedic physicians per year.

Of the 221 colleges, 60 colleges offer MD courses in ayurveda. The BAMS is a five-and-a-half year course.

The minimum percentage to get admission in the course nowadays is 80 per cent as the number of students applying for this field has gone up manifold.

Some institutions give admission to the BAMS course on the basis of an entrance examination.

Work prospects

The demand for ayurveda is so much that BAMS course is the students’ second preference after MBBS.

Dr K. C. Pathak, an ayurveda practitioner in Delhi, says that there are a number of specialisations in this field. A person can become an ayurveda dietician, surgeon, pharmacist and so on.

An ayurvedic doctor can get employment as a medical officer/ doctor in government and private ayurvedic hospitals.

Money matters

In government-run ayurveda clinics or hospitals, the starting salary is around Rs 10,000. In private hospitals, the start for an ayurvedic doctor may be around Rs 15,000 per month.

"More and more people consulting ayurvedic docs"

S.K. Sharma
S.K. Sharma

THE demand for ayurveda doctors is growing, says Dr S.K. Sharma, Adviser in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Excerpts from an interview:

What is the scope of ayurveda as a career?

"The demand for ayurvedic doctors and consultants is increasing, in India and abroad also. There are scores of ayurvedic doctors practising as consultants overseas and earning good money there.

At present, India is exporting Ayurvedic drugs to the tune of Rs. 1500 crore per annum and the ayurvedic drugs being manufactured in India are to the tune of Rs 6000 crore per annum.

How has the demand for ayurveda evolved in the past few decades?

"Ayurveda has gained popularity over the years. In some cases, a surgery or allopathic treatment may take a week to make a patient fit, but ayurvedic treatment takes only a few minutes to provide relief. And the surgery is done without anaesthesia and is painless. Moreover, there are no side-effects of ayurvedic drugs while allopathic medicines do have side-effects.

What are the areas of work in this field?

There are 17 specialisations in ayurveda, including those of pharmacist, surgeon, dieticians, gynaecologist, teacher, panchkarma practitioner, etc. A BAMS student can opt for any of these areas of work.

Manish Kumar Singal