One Nation, One Ration Card.
One Nation, One Tax.
One Nation, One Law.
One Nation, One Election.
One Nation, One Charger.
Yoga for All (Take it as ‘One for All’)
Ayurveda for One Health.
‘One Nation, One Fertilizer’…the latest in the list.
A Google search ensured that I haven’t left out any ‘One’ for that matter.
As we know, some of these are being operationalized in the country, while some are at the ideation stage. For instance, the ‘One Nation, One Election’ concept is at the mercy of a political consensus from a plethora of political parties at the state and national levels. Similarly, the ‘One Nation, One Charger’ idea is also facing some resistance from the manufacturers of mobile phones, laptops, etc. Be that as it may as this article is not about anyone of those.
Looking at these ‘Ones’, all are fairly comprehendible to an average person, except one ‘One’. That is ‘Ayurveda for One Health’. If you have understood it, you are, well, not an average person. To me at least, and I bow my head to you with all respect and humility.
As for me, this ‘One Health’ came to me as a bouncer, if I may use a cricketing parlance. I could neither duck under it nor play it properly. This happened about three months ago when I received the announcement notification of the 9th World Ayurveda Congress and Arogya Expo from the organizers, the World Ayurveda Foundation, located in Bengaluru. The theme of this 9th edition of this Congress is ‘Ayurveda for One Health’.
For your information and knowledge, this Congress is considered as ‘the’ largest platform for Ayurveda stakeholders in the world, and its 9th edition will be held in Goa from 8 to 11 December 2022. About 5000 Ayurveda stakeholders are expected to actively participate in it and anywhere between 3 lakh and 4 lakh local people will throng Arogya Expo, going by the experience of the earlier 8 congresses.
Coming back to the theme conundrum, the earlier congresses had ‘Mainstreaming Ayurveda’, ‘Health for All, etc., as themes, which were easier to understand. But not ‘Ayurveda for One Health’. To quench my journalistic curiosity, I did look up the Internet once or twice in a lazy way to find out more about it. I came back empty handed so to speak. I did ask a couple of my friends, who are Ayurveda doctors, when I met them through sheer coincidence. All I could get was a barrage of bouncers in Sanskrit verses, which simply went past well above my head and even beyond the wicket-keeper’s reach. I simply nodded my head in agreement, but with a gentle smile that spoke of my lack of understanding. Absolutely no offence meant to those doctors because they were clear about it but fell short of communicating the same to a lay person.
As there was no urgency, I placed this theme in my mind in an ‘active’ mode. The active mode makes you alert when ‘time’ reveals the meaning to you sooner or later even if you are dealing with a totally unrelated topic at that point in time. You know what I mean here.
As days passed peacefully being busy with laziness, lo and behold, the World Ayurveda Foundation asked me to manage the PR and Media activities of the World Ayurveda Congress! And I was asked to report at Goa on 10 October 2022, just three days before the Curtain Raiser function at Hotel Vivanta. The first thing that crossed my mind at that point was not about the impending challenges that go with a rather unexpected responsibility but knowing the meaning of the theme ‘Ayurveda for One Health’.
After reaching Goa, I went through the list of dignitaries…from ministers to secretaries to heads of various institutions to Ayurveda acharyas…all flying down to Goa for a 2-hour function. I found two familiar names in that list whom I knew personally. I made my plans to catch them during lunch post-event as I was sure that they would crack the code for me. Alas! I didn’t need to wait that long. The following thunderous words from none other than the Hon’ble Minister of AYUSH, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, during his speech towards the end of the Curtain Raiser event, revealed all that I wanted to know! Well, he spoke extempore for about 30 minutes with a body language that displayed his confidence on the subject full on! Here he went roaring to the audience present…
“Will you be healthy when you are surrounded by filth…when your rivers are dirty…when your environment is polluted…when mountain glaciers are melting at a faster rate…when your animals and birds are unhealthy…when your trees, plants, and herbs are unhealthy…when your forests are shrinking…when the whole biodiversity is in danger…when the global temperature is increasing…”.
Shri Sarbandanda Sonowal, Hon’ble Minister of AYUSH, Government of India
The list went on and on as he seamlessly connected the dots in the end to Ayurveda and how Ayurveda and Ayurvedic lifestyle can contribute to the well-being of all living beings on this planet.
Post his speech, I leaned forward and looked at the backdrop to ensure that I was not at a conference on energy, environment, and climate change! Confirming that, I quietly recited the Shanti Paath, which I had by-hearted once upon a time without knowing its meaning. But now I did it with a better understanding of the whole thing. The transliteration of the Shanti Paath is as follows:
Oṃ Sarve Bhavantu Sukhināḥ
Sarve Santu Nirāmayāh
Sarve Bhadrāṇi Paśyantu Mā Kaścidduḥ
Oṃ śhāntiḥ śhāntiḥ śhāntiḥ II
You may go and figure out the meaning of this from the Internet.
Now why did I write this piece a week after the Curtain Raiser event especially when the event got wide coverage in the local and national media. In terms of numbers, over 250 media outlets have carried the news across the country in almost all languages, from newspapers to digital media to websites to live TV coverage and still counting! Two reasons: one, none of the media reports carried the very meaning of the concept ‘Ayurveda for One Health’; two, when someone looks up the Internet for the meaning of ‘One Health’ in the future, he or she will see this article.
Of all these ‘Ones’, two ‘Ones’ stand out: ‘Yoga for All’ and ‘Ayurveda for One Health’ because they are universal in nature while the others are purely nation-centric.
(Eashwar K P is fascinated about science communication and he writes and edits in the fields of energy, environment, climate change, cricket, and Ayurveda. He can be reached at [email protected] This article is written in his personal capacity, not on behalf of the World Ayurveda Foundation.)