The debate around the Indian traditional systems of medicine AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) continued even during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as data indicates, ever since AYUSH was made a ministry, the budget allocation & actual expenditure of the Ministry have significantly increased.
The Ministry of AYUSH was formed on 09 November 2014, with a vision of revising knowledge of traditional Indian systems of medicine and propagation of AYUSH systems of healthcare. Prior to the creation of a separate Ministry, these systems were under the aegis of the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry announced initiatives to conduct research on COVID-19 through these traditional systems of medicine.
In this story, we look at the trends in budget allocation to the Ministry of AYUSH since its inception.
More than 3-fold increase in the Actual expenditure of the Ministry in 2020-21 compared to 2013-14
As mentioned previously, the new Ministry of AYUSH was formed in November 2014. The budget estimates for the Department of AYUSH during 2013-14 was Rs. 1.25 thousand crores while the actual expenditure was only Rs. 642 crores in that year.
During 2014-15, when the department was made as a separate Ministry, the similar trend of lesser actual expenditure compared to the budget estimates continued, with Rs.616 crores of actual expenditure compared to Rs. 1.27 thousand crores of Budget Estimates.
Since then, there has been an improvement in the actual expenditure compared to the initial budget estimates for the ministry. There is a considerable increase in the actual expenditure of the ministry since 2015-16. It increased by nearly 75% in 2015-16 compared to the actual expenditure in 2014-15. However, except for 2017-18, the actual expenditure remained slightly lower than the initial budget estimates for the rest of the years.
During the pandemic, there was an increase in the initial budget estimates for the Ministry of AYUSH. In 2020-21, the initial budget estimates were Rs. 2.122 thousand crores, which was revised to Rs. 2.32 thousand crores. However, the actual expenditure for the year was Rs. 2.126 thousand crores, slightly more than the initial budget estimates.
In 2021-22, the initial budget estimates for the Ministry were Rs. 2.97 thousand crores, which was 40% higher than in 2020-21. However, the revised estimates were reduced to Rs. 2.66 thousand crores. In 2022-23, Rs. 3.05 thousand crores are allocated in the initial budget estimates.
Support to Autonomous bodies under AYUSH forms the major share of the Ministry’s expenditure
One of the main objectives of AYUSH is to provide support to research institutions, educational institutions, etc. This is reflected in the budget allocation as well as a major share is provided to various autonomous institutions relating to AYUSH.
- Out of the Rs. 2.12 thousand crores of actual expenditure by the Ministry in 2020-21, Rs. 1.67 thousand is allocated to various autonomous institutions. The revised estimates for 2021-22 & budget estimates for 2022-23 also continue to follow the same trend.
- The establishment expenditure on the other hand has seen a reduction over the last few years.
- The actual expenditure towards central sector schemes doubled during the five-year period of 2016-17 to 2020-21. The estimates in the last two budgets towards the central sector schemes are much higher at Rs. 235 crores of revised estimates for 2021-22 and Rs. 306.98 crores of budget estimates for 2022-23.
- There is also an increase in the allocation towards ‘Statutory & Regulatory bodies’ in 2021-22 & 2022-23. A major portion of this increase is towards the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda. Similarly, in 2022-23, allocation towards the “National Commission for Homeopathy” and the “National Commission for Indian System of Medicine” contributed towards the increased budget estimates.
- In 2020-21, there is a fall in the actual expenditure towards ‘National AYUSH Mission’, which is part of the National Health Mission. The actual expenditure for 2020-21 was Rs. 397 crores, lower than Rs. 495.5 crores in 2019-20. However, the revised estimates for 2021-22 is higher at Rs. 500 crores. The budget estimates for 2022-23 towards National AYUSH Mission are also higher at Rs. 800 crores.
Institutions relating to Ayurveda have a higher allocation among the various Autonomous bodies
Budget allocation is made for various autonomous institutions that are connected to the AYUSH Ministry and the AYUSH systems of medicine.
- Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) is an autonomous body that was registered in 2011, with its earlier incarnation of Central Council for Research in Ayurveda & Siddha, being established in 1978. It is involved in executing research programmes with a network of 30 peripheral institutes/centres. A total amount of Rs. 264 crores were spent by CCRAS in 2020-21, with the budget estimates for 2022-23 at Rs. 358.5 crores. After a steady increase in the years before the pandemic, the expenditure of CCRAS fell in 2020-21.
- Central Council for Research in Homeopathy (CCRH) & Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM) are two autonomous bodies focused on research in other systems of medicine – Homeopathy & Unani Medicine respectively. Compared to Ayurveda, the allocation to these institutions is lower. While the budget estimates for 2022-23 in the case of CCRUM is higher, it ought to be noted that the revised estimates for 2021-22 is lower than in the earlier years.
- There is a major increase in the allocation made towards the All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA). This was made an autonomous institute under the Ministry of AYUSH in 2014. In 2019-20, the actual expenditure of AIIA was Rs. 79.28 crores, which increased by more than three-fold in 2020-21 to Rs. 313.8 crores.
- The same is the case with the National Institute of Homeopathy, Kolkata. There is an increase in the actual expenditure in 2020-21.
- A major part of the budgetary allocation for Autonomous bodies is categorized as under “Other Autonomous Bodies”. Even in this case, there is an increase in the expenditure during 2020-21 and even the estimates for 2021-22 & 2022-23 are higher. Few of these autonomous bodies include – The central council of Homeopathy, the Morarji Desai Institute of Yoga (New Delhi), the National Institute of Ayurveda, the National Institute of Homeopathy, National Institute of Naturopathy, Rastriya Ayurveda Vidyapeeth, etc.
The introduction of new Central sector schemes have contributed towards increased budget allocation for 2022-23
As already highlighted, there is an increase in both the revised estimates for 2021-22 and budget estimates for 2022-23 for Central sector Schemes under the Ministry of AYUSH. This increase is due to the introduction of new schemes. Apart from the increase in support to various autonomous bodies under different systems of AYUSH, the government has also introduced new schemes. The major Central sector schemes that were introduced are:
- Ayurswasthay Yojana
- AYUSH Oushadhi Gunvatta evum Uttapadan Samvardhan Yojana (AOGUSY)
- Central Sector Scheme for Conservation, Development and Sustainable Management of Medicinal Plants
Apart from these, Rs. 25 crores were allocated towards Pradhan Mantri VRIKSH AYUSH Yojana in 2020-21 but the estimates for 2021-22 & 2022-23 were only Rs. 1 crore each for this scheme.
Schemes related to Information, Education & Communication, as well as Promotion of International Cooperation have also received a higher allocation in recent years.
Based on the trends in allocation & expenditure for various initiatives & institutions Ministry of AYUSH, it is observed that there is a significant increase in the spending since a separate ministry is created for AYUSH. In addition to the increase in allocation, there is also a significant improvement in the utilization of the budget as is evident from the actual expenditure in the last few years.
While there are apprehensions from certain quarters on the government’s focus on these traditional systems of medicine, their utility & usefulness is widely accepted for a range of illnesses. The need is, however, to increase emphasis on research and organization of the traditional systems of medicine to encourage evidence-based outcomes for them to have global acceptance.
Featured Image: Expenditure of the Ministry of AYUSH