Interview with Prof. A Nalinakshen Pro. VC, Kerala health University

It’s just been few years since you have taken charge as Pro. VC of Kerala Health University. What are the challenges you face and how do you plan to overcome them?

As Pro VC I have faced challenges from different angles, one from the health university level and the other from the Ayurveda sector including its treatment and education. It is only five years since the university has been established and hence there are many bottlenecks to be overcome. There is a lot to happen before the university starts functioning in full swing. Right now the university is highly understaffed and has only ¼ of the actual strength. Other universities have around 1500 staff but here the staff strength is below 150. The university is completely digitized and all its process are online and thus this has made the university very student-friendly. Anything and everything related to student affairs is computerized and modernized. Along with the HQ building that was built in a record three year time period quarters for staff and family has also been built partially.

What plans do you have in raising the platform for Ayurveda in India and globally?

Pure and classical Ayurveda is practiced only in Kerala and in few pockets like Gujarat and Rajasthan.

In other places we have found that Ayurveda doctors practice Allopathy instead of Ayurveda and in many states in India like Maharashtra, UP, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Orrisa, we have seen that adulterated Ayurveda is practiced.

We would like to bring this to the notice of Government of India and the Central Council of Indian Medicines. Also, in many other states the syllabus for Ayurveda doctors is a lot tainted with Allopathy. This should be changed and a legislation to the effect of including and giving importance to Ayurvedic portions should be brought out.

Also, as the new Pro. VC deeply embedded in the traditions of Ayurveda what are the steps you want to take for the betterment of the University? How to you plan to execute them?

There are many things I wish to do to take the university to the next level. As I mentioned earlier I would first want the university to be adequately staffed. For this I will have to approach the government so as to get the staff appointed through PSC. Also, I would like to focus on constituting the senate for the university. Steps in this regard have been started and it will be finalized within two months. The University currently boasts of an examination system that is completely online and devoid of any loopholes. All process related to examination including conducting, valuation and result publishing are done online. Active plans are being discussed for the curriculum and syllabus for all medical and allied courses. Another feather in the cap for this university is that the evaluation is centralized and there is no delay in result publications. Thus there is zero allegations in this regard since the pattern followed here is that of double evaluation. In case of any kind of disparity between the two examiners by more than 15% marks the answer sheet will be sent for a third valuation.  Also, the faculty are paid a remuneration that is much higher than that of other universities for paper valuation. They are also handsomely paid TA and DA. Apart from other universities were the time taken for the finalization of payments is long here it is done quickly. Steps are also being taken to include Ayurveda lessons in school syllabus. Already, sanction has been given for including Ayurveda lessons in 6th and 8th standards. Sanction  have been sought for including it in the text  books of 9th and 10th standards next year.

Kerala is seen as the home for Ayurveda. So, what initiatives do you think should be taken from Kerala so that other health universities in India can also give Ayurveda a lot of prominence?

First and foremost all states should be requested not to promote mixed treatments but to promote real Ayurveda. Government should be approached to provide incentives for farmers to cultivate raw herbs that are essential for Ayurvedic treatments. Also, the system of pure Ayurveda practiced in Kerala should be followed in India and reflected in other countries.

How is it possible for Ayurveda and Allopathy to share the same space? What steps should be taken in this regard?

What I suggest is that we should adopt the Chinese model were all systems of medicine come under one roof even though there is no mixing in the treatment. Here the patients are educated and are given the choice to select the treatments they wish. The doctors are educated on other streams so that they can understand the possibilities and chances of other treatments too. This ensures that the patients are benefited the most. In this under one umbrella system all can use common platforms with regard to lab and investigation technologies like ultra-sound, ECG and x-ray. This will help the patients as well as the government to save a lot of time and money.

Also, what do you think is the contemporary relevance of traditional system of medicine?

Traditional medicine has a lot of relevance today due to its value and mode of treatment which is mostly natural and devoid of any chemicals. But most of the time doctors practicing traditional medicine face unhealthy competition. This leads these practitioners to take commissions from patients to satiate their greed for money and materialism. I believe that traditional knowledge should be passed on to generations. The GoI is taking initiatives for this by digitizing traditional text books and knowledge written on palm leaves (thaliyola grandhas). Also, the GoI is encouraging research in many areas of Ayurveda.

A few words about your personal journey and wishes you want to realize in this University?

I want to bring about a positive change in the attitude of all involved in the university. Students are in a pensive mood. They are afraid of superiors in the academy including HODs, research guides. This gap or fear should be dissolved and I am working in this direction. I want the university to be more student friendly and steps already taken in this direction includes the complete computerization process of all student activities.  This makes the student highly empowered and do all process from home and he/she does not necessarily have to visit the office. Also, I would like to promote a healthy and friendly relation between teachers, students and the university to enable its smooth functioning. The quality assessment of students, institutions and research can happen only with whole-hearted support of the teachers. As part of the university, we would like to support self-financing colleges and private sector without compromising on quality. We cannot function without the support from the private sector as they are the ones coming out with new initiatives supporting the present job-market.

Any other comments thoughts for readers of Ayurveda & Health Tourism?

Try to understand real Ayurveda and promote it. Support and popularize Ayurveda outside India as this in turn will help health tourism.





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