India's Prime Minister Announces New Ministry for Yoga and Ayurveda

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently established a ministry to promote alternative therapies such as yoga and Ayurvedic medicine, as part of a wider mission to raise awareness of home-grown, natural therapies.

The ministry will focus on Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy, designated by the acronym AAYUSH. In establishing AAYUSH, Modi inducted 21 ministers and appointed Shripad Yesso Naik as the new Minister of State who will head up the department. 

"This is our system and it has not received enough prominence. We will take it to the masses," Naik said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Prime Minister Modi, who begins his day with yoga, has long been an enthusiastic supporter and proponent of traditional Indian health and spiritual practices. He has often taken the opportunity to mention them in his exchanges with world leaders.

He has also encouraged the United Nations to observe an International Yoga Day, and so far, more than 50 countries including the US, Canada, and China strongly support the idea. In his speech at the UN, Modi praised yoga, saying it can change one’s lifestyle, raise one’s level of consciousness and even help the world deal with climate change.

On his recent world tour he had the opportunity to give a book on yoga to the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, after he expressed interest in the practice.  Modi is quoted as saying “Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being.” 

In addition, Modi spoke about yoga and Ayurveda to U.S. leaders including Barack Obama and Joe Biden when he visited the U.S. in September 2014.  According to the Washington Post, Modi and Obama agreed to work together toward common goals. 

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