The Planning Commission’s working group on AYUSH (department of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) for the 12th five-year plan has proposed setting up of a Rs 100-crore National Institute of Sowa-Rigpa. Sowa Rigpa, is an ancient Tibetan medicinal system believed to be taught by Lord Buddha himself. The institute will offer both under graduate and post-graduate courses, and clinical services through a well-equipped hospital. The group has also suggested establishing a Central Council for Research in Sowa-Rigpa. Union health ministry officials said unlike other Indian systems of medicine and homeopathy, the Sowa-Rigpa has not been explored scientifically and standards of drugs, therapies and procedures are lacking. “It is, therefore, proposed to develop an organizational set up mandated with scientific validation and standardization of Sowa-Rigpa to facilitate research in literary, drug, clinical areas and medicinal plants,” the Commission’s note said. Sowa-Rigpa, commonly known as ‘amchi’, is one of the oldest surviving systems of medicine in the world, and is popular in the Himalayan region. It is practiced in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling, Lahaul and Spiti (Himachal Pradesh) and Ladakh. The theory and practices of Sowa-Rigpa are similar to ayurveda, and also includes principles of traditional Chinese medicine. The Rajya Sabha had passed a Bill in 2010 to include Sowa-Rigpa under the Indian systems of medicine. The Commission’s report said, “Sowa-Rigpa is in the hands of some institutes run by the Tibetan bodies in trans-Himalayan region. Some sort of financial support is provided to these institutions from the government. However, the infrastructural facilities there are not sufficient to meet the aspirations of the students who choose to study Sowa-Rigpa for a professional career. As Sowa-Rigpa has been accorded state patronage, a dedicated institute of the system is required that may lead to develop benchmark standards of education, patients’ care and post-graduate research and impart professional training to produce skilled manpower.” The committee has also asked for a Rs 50-crore allocation towards setting up of the Council. “Presently, an institute for research in Sowa-Rigpa with a limited mandate is functioning at Leh under the aegis of Central Council for Research in ayurveda and siddha. It has not developed linkages and collaboration with other scientific institutions because of its geographical location and the activities there are not very contributory for the scientific development of the system,” the report said. Sowa-Rigpa is popular in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Mongolia, Bhutan, some parts of China, Nepal and a few parts of erstwhile Soviet Union.
Source : The Times Of India