India has set up a ministry to promote alternative therapies such as yoga and traditional ayurveda medicine, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on a mission to raise awareness and the appeal of home-grown health treatments. Modi has repeatedly called for greater use of India's health remedies and exercises, part of a push to promote traditional learning.
During his first address at the United Nations in September, he encouraged more people to take up yoga and called for an International Yoga Day. The formation of the ministry comes days after the government unveiled plans to set up a regulator for traditional drugs. India wants to expand its presence in the estimated $100 billion global market for alternative medicine.
Ayurvedic and other types of traditional medicine, called unani and siddha, are popular in smaller towns, and yoga has a huge following across India and in the West. Homeopathy also finds wide acceptance in India. The success of the new ministry would depend on additional budgetary allocation The government allocated 10.69 billion rupees ($174 million) to develop and promote traditional health systems in the 2014-15 financial year.