The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has introduced a Minister of Yoga and Ayurveda to his government, as part of a cabinet revamp announced on the 9th October. In total 4 new ministers and 17 new junior ministers were appointed, with the overall aim of boosting India’s economy. Shripad Yesso Naik, former Tourism Minister, is the new AAYUSH Minister. The role of the AAYUSH Minister will entail promoting the traditional medicines and practices of Ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and homeopathy.
Commenting on the practices of yoga and Ayurveda, the new AAYUSH Minister said: “This is our system and it has not received enough prominence. We will take it to the masses.” – Shripad Yesso Naik, as reported by Reuters
AAYUSH previously came under the duties of the Health Minister, but these alternative therapies have now been put into a separate portfolio. Other changes introduced as part of the revamp include the separation of the finance and defence portfolios. Prime Minister Modi came to office earlier this year in May as part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the largest political party in India. Modi has previously been praised for his economic policies.
Prime Minister Modi, a Hindu Nationalist and a vegetarian, enjoys practising yoga on a daily basis. As a young man Modi visited various ashrams and places of Hindu religious learning, founded by Swami Vivekananda. Earlier in September he urged the United Nations to consider introducing an annual International Yoga Day on 21st June; reportedly gaining initial support from 50 countries, including the US and China.
“Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.”
“Yoga should not be just an exercise for us, but it should be a means to get connected with the world and with nature. It should bring a change in our lifestyle and create awareness in us, and it can help with fighting against climate change.” – Prime Minister Modi addressing the UN