Legislation For Regulation Of Yoga And Naturopathy Under Consideration Of Ministry Of Ayush

New Delhi: In what could be a silver lining to the stakeholders of the Yoga and Naturopathy systems of treatment in the country, the Central government is considering a proposal to bring a Central legislation for regulation of these drugless treatment systems.

The development comes a few years after the stakeholders including the practitioners, apart from a Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare, raised the issue of these systems not being regulated even though it is considered under the Ministry of Ayush.

The Union Minister of Ayush Sarbananda Sonowal in a reply to a question from a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha in the middle of this month, said, “A proposal to bring a central legislation for regulation of Yoga and Naturopathy in the country is under consideration of the Ministry.”

The naturopathy practitioners have been complaining that the lack of legislation to regulate the system has been having an impact on its credibility, considering there could be quacks who may well utilise the situation for their advantage.

They also point out that the government has not considered the recommendation by the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee, which in its 115th report submitted to the Rajya Sabha in November, 2019, recommended inclusion of Yoga and Naturopathy in the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019, which was passed in the Lok Sabha in August, 2021. A similar recommendation by the government’s think tank NITI Aayog regarding the inclusion of these systems into the Bill was also not considered by the government, they allege.

The Standing Committee in its report recommended inclusion of these systems in the Bill with a view that the age-old practice of Yoga and Naturopathy, which focuses on holistic health, is an integral part of the Indian culture and Ayush system.

“The Committee is not at all convinced by the reasons given by the Ministry to exclude Yoga and Naturopathy from the purview of the Bill. The Committee wonders about the role and achievement of the National Board for Promotion and Development of Yoga and Naturopathy under the Ministry of Ayush,” it said. It also expressed its disappointment that a separate Bill for Yoga and Naturopathy has been withheld for no apparent reason.

“The Committee notes that presently there is no central regulatory body for registration of Yoga and Naturopathy practitioners and standardisation & recognition of different courses of Yoga and naturopathy. Absence of a central regulatory body, at a time when Yoga is being considered as a panacea for a meaningful life and living, may result in proliferation of poor standard institutes and unchecked practices by unqualified practitioners. There has been a global surge in the popularity of Yoga and Naturopathy that has resulted in worldwide growth of teaching schools. India being the land of origin of these practices has to responsibly contribute in its evolution,” said the Committee.

“The Committee, therefore, strongly recommends that the drugless system of Yoga and Naturopathy should be regulated under a separate Board of Yoga and Naturopathy under clause 18 of the Bill under consideration. The Board of Yoga and Naturopathy shall consist of a President and two members from Yoga and two members from Naturopathy field,” it recommended.

It also noted the submissions of the Indian Naturopathy and Yoga Graduates Medical Association (INYGMA) that it is unfair to the system of “Yoga & Naturopathy’ to deny it a Statutory Regulation and that the absence of a central regulation with statutory cover would allow the mushrooming of a number of quack practitioners with the growing demand for ‘Yoga & Naturopathy’ clinical practice, putting public at-large to the risk of malpractice and bad health.

The Ministry was of the opinion that unlike other Ayush systems, Yoga and Naturopathy is a drugless system and the rights and responsibilities of Indian System of Medicine and Homoeopathy doctors are different from Yoga and Naturopathy practitioners and hence, it would not be appropriate to include Yoga and Naturopathy to the NCISM Bill. It also informed the Committee that it has been decided to withhold the proposal for having separate Bill for Yoga and Naturopathy for time being and to empower the existing mechanism of National Board for Promotion and Development of Yoga and Naturopathy under Ministry of Ayush to strengthen the aspects of regulating education and practice of Yoga and Naturopathy.

According to the Ministry, the number of Registered Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences (BNYS) practitioners in the country in the year 2020 grew to 4,097 from 2,383 in 2019 and 2,220 in 2016.

The Minister, in the middle of this month, also said that the Ministry of Ayush promotes Yoga in the country through its three autonomous bodies namely Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (MDNIY), New Delhi, Central Council for Research in Yoga & Naturopathy (CCRYN), New Delhi and National Institute of Naturopathy (NIN), Pune. MDNIY provides various courses for Yoga Education. CCRYN is the apex body for research and development in the Yoga and Naturopathy systems. NIN, a premier institute for Naturopathy, organizes various activities related to Naturopathy and Yoga.

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