Report of the Udupa K.N. Committee on Ayurveda Research Evaluation
The government of India’s Ministry of Health appointed the Udupa K.N. Committee on Ayurveda Research Evaluation in July 1958. Dr. K. N. Udupa – a surgical specialist and the founder-director of the Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University – was made its chairperson.
The Committee had to assess existing Ayurveda research; the need for upgrading institutions teaching Ayurveda; facilities for training and research in Ayurveda; the nature, volume and standards of the Ayurvedic pharmaceutical products; and the ‘practice and recognition’ of the Ayurvedic system of medicine. The Report of the Udupa K.N. Committee on Ayurveda Research Evaluation was released in April 1959.The 195-page report contains nine chapters: Introduction (Chapter I); Terms of Reference and Methods of Study (Chapter II); General Observations (Chapter III); Training (Chapter IV); Research (Chapter V); Pharmaceutical Products (Chapter VI); Status of Practice (Chapter VII); Final Recommendations (Chapter VII) and Concluding Remarks (Chapter IX).
During the first half of the 20th century, attempts to revive Ayurveda were made by the Indian National Congress, as well as committees appointed by the government of Bengal in 1921-22, and the government of the United Provinces (now, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh) in 1925.
In 1946, the government of India appointed a committee (known as the Chopra committee) to discuss Ayurveda and Unani research, with R. N. Chopra, a pharmacologist, as its chairperson. The Chopra committee recommended ‘harmonising’ western and indigenous systems of medicine. The central government subsequently deemed the committee’s recommendations as impractical, stating that the principles of ‘modern medicine’ are different from those of Ayurveda and Unani.
When this report was published, the Udupa K.N. Committee notes, there were about 76 Ayurveda institutions across India. Additionally, there were six Sanskrit colleges that also taught Ayurveda. The Committee divided these institutes into two broad categories: those providing integrated training in the ‘modern medical sciences’ and Ayurveda, and those which only taught shudha (pure) Ayurveda.
In 1952, the government of Bombay supported the creation of a shudha course which used traditional ways of teaching Ayurveda. When this report was written, there were 27 such Ayurveda institutions in India and nearly all were run by private organisations. There were about 1,500 students in these institutions.
The Committee states that an ‘integration of the old and the new’ is necessary for increasing people’s interest in Ayurveda. It is important to borrow from the modern medical sciences to explain the gaps in Ayurveda knowledge, especially in anatomy and physiology. This, the report states, will equip Ayurveda practitioners to communicate with patients of the present day more efficiently.
Graduates in integrated Ayurveda courses, the report says, “…know enough of modern medicine and surgery in addition to Ayurveda but are not allowed to have the same privileges as a modern medical man and earn a decent living or to develop their knowledge of modern science.” Their income and career prospects are bleak, the Committee states.
The report ‘strongly’ recommends that the central and state governments pass policies to recognise and promote the training and practice of Ayurveda. It suggests that the government set up at least three centres of post-graduate training in Ayurveda, as well as training courses for Ayurveda teachers.
The government, the Committee suggests, should establish a Central Council of Indian Medicine to regulate Ayurvedic education and training in the country.
It is necessary to make Ayurvedic drugs available to Ayurveda practitioners as well as commercial pharmacies – states the report. Herbs and other ingredients required to make such drugs are difficult to obtain, especially in bulk quantities. The Committee recommends that the commercial farming of these plants be encouraged.
Focus and Factoids by Surbhi Bhardwaj.
Udupa K.N. Committee on Ayurveda Research Evaluation
Ministry of Health, Government of India, New Delhi