Tourism ministry eyes Sikkim as yoga center

New Delhi: Sting discovered it first; Madonna ushered it into the Celebrity Hall of Fame and now the ministry of tourism wants to ensure that there are enough trainers to get ordinary tourists enthusiastic on to its miraculous powers of well being.

The ministry plans to promote institutes to develop skills in yoga and traditional systems of medicine to position India as the global destination for wellness.

The first institute of this kind will come up in Sikkim. The institution is a partnership between the state government, ministry of tourism and the ministry of health.

“We are in dialogue with the department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (Ayush) to draw up plans to produce the content for trainers,” a senior official of the ministry said. “Sikkim has taken the lead, but we hope more such institutes will come up in the future.” “These institutes will provide an opportunity to learn from a place that is recognized by the government. This way we can even guarantee the quality of people in the business.”

This institute will not only impart skills on essential asanas, but the healing touch of Indian medicines. “The focus will be not only on Ayurveda,” the official said.
“There are other kinds of medicines too and the idea is that we want to promote different Indian ways of healing.” China has already cashed in on its healing-products market and a recent white paper claimed that the industrial output value of traditional Chinese medicine touched $25.98 billion last year.

Yoga — which Jennifer Aniston has claimed to have saved her after her split with Brad Pitt— has been one of India’s most successful exports to the US, but its effectiveness has caught the imagination even in South Africa. On popular demand, the ministry of tourism is organizing a food festival with a yoga practitioner thrown in.

“Ayush has concentrated only on very theoretical knowledge so far,” the official said. “In these institutes, we will focus on developing core competency to look at India as a wellness destination to cater to a market.” While the ministry of tourism so far has only been promoting destinations in India that specialize in rejuvenation skills, this is for the first time that it is planning to get involved in manpower training.

“The ministry of tourism is also in talks with the private sector so that the students that come out of this institute get fascinated,”’ a senior official said. With healing the new exhortation even in India as countless spas springing up across metropolitan cities, the ministry hopes that its trained Indian healing practitioners will get employment.

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