In a bid to popularize traditional Indian medicinal products and therapies in the domestic and global market and develop the country as a hub for such commodities and services, the Global Ayush Investment and Innovation Summit was conducted to highlight the possibilities for innovation, investment, and the scope for the sector’s growth via a knowledge-sharing platform and further initiate efforts to establish solution-oriented and robust technologies to utilize traditional Indian medicine. At the outset, the summit witnessed significant investor interest, policy discourse around key industrial challenges, and stakeholder meetings to lay emphasis on the promotion of alternate medicine in the country, making traditional medicines and medical practices more accessible and popular.

The summit resulted in an investment commitment of about INR 9,000 crore across major categories like FMCG, medical value travel (MVT) and services, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, technology, and diagnostics. During the summit, more than 70 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed between countries, prestigious research institutes, farmers' groups, and industry. The commitment is expected to generate over 5.56 lakh employment opportunities in the country. A significant highlight that took the forefront at the summit revolved around the need to utilize modern technology to validate the sector, while holding the foundational spirit of these practices in place. The Summit further aimed at initiating a dialogue around the opportunities for Ayush in boosting the Medical Value Travel to India. Special emphasis was further laid on the inclusion of medicinal plants in supply chain management.

The Ayush industry is booming with a strong global demand size of $ 657.5 Bn in 2020 and global exports of $ 31.0 Bn in 2019. The sector has shown immense growth over the past couple of years with a projected turnover of $ 20.6 Bn in 2022. The country’s MSMEs of this sector are catching up in terms of profits and research and development expenditures and the leading Ayush manufacturing states have successfully completed the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) reforms, including Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana. These efforts have been materialised in an exponential rise in the recognition of Ayush as a system of medicine and wellness in India and the world, surging global demand for Ayush products and services, particularly since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, owing to the growing domestic and global consumer preference for herbal products and herbs based medical treatments. The Indian domestic market of Ayush is estimated to be INR 500 crore, while exports amount to INR 200 crore.

Evidently, Ayush healthcare services play an important role in the healthcare sector of our country and hold severe potential to channel the socio-economic dimensions of the country. Extensive research, training, and teaching are undertaken in each of the systems to facilitate their growth and contribute significantly to the public healthcare outcomes of the country. Thus, to further nurture the potential of this sector enough focus has been laid on facilitating a favourable ecosystem for startups and entrepreneurs. There exists a severe potential for young entrepreneurs and employment seekers in holistic healthcare and alternative medicine.

The Ayush Ministry is further exploring avenues to involve current students in a more inclusive way to build their careers in yoga, Ayurveda, and other traditional systems of medicine. These medical practices are required to be augmented with the current technology and target new market segments by using non-traditional means for outreach and distribution. This has been evident through the centre and state efforts to establish several educational institutes, hospitals, retreats, and wellness retreat centres focussing primarily on traditional medical therapies and alternative restorative medical practices. For instance, the proposed Ayush sports medicine centre1 to be set up in Mangalore, aimed at helping sportspersons in preparing diet plans, lifestyle management, injury prevention, boosting immunity, stress management, and body relaxation, is a welcome step in this context. In addition to this, the bill to establish an Ayush university2 in Tamil Nadu will further provide scientific validation and research to traditional medicines and practices.

Such efforts are envisaged to have a multi-fold impact on the current and future employment generation scope of the country. There is further scope for the youth in the existing and upcoming research centres and start-up opportunities. Moreover, with the conducive investment and business climate established for this sector, there exists high scope for future intervention in this regard, leveraging an incubator network and generating market access opportunities, particularly to incorporate technology and other scientific modes in the products and services offered by this sector.

This has been co-authored Karishma Sharma and Srijata Deb.

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