Prof. (Dr.) Kartar Singh Dhiman is an eminent name in Ayurveda. His acumen and accomplishments as a Scholar, Academician, Ayurvaidya, Researcher, and Administrator are highly illustrious. He brings with himself an experience and learning of over 25 years. He has a research specialization in Ophthalmology. Prof. (Dr.) K. S. Dhiman is part of editorial teams and boards in many international peer reviewed journals. He has chaired many international seminars and conferences and presented as many as 83 research papers himself. He has authored five books so far. He is also a member of several university level expert committees and professional bodies. Prof. (Dr.) K. S. Dhiman is also a life member of organizations like NIMA and TAS. He is currently the Director General for the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, under Ministry of AYUSH. Read his interview below.
Please tell us about your career background, Prof. Dhiman.
I passed my B.A.M.S. from Himachal Pradesh University in 1988. Then I immediately joined Gujarat Ayurved University (GAU) in Jamnagar for my post graduation. I completed M.D. in Ayurveda Shalakya from here in 1991. I also have a Ph.D. in Shalakya from the SSU, Varanasi.
Why did you choose Ayurveda?
During my 5th standard, my father once suffered from typhoid. There wasn’t proper medical aid available at that time in the village. He confided in the doctor attending him that he really wished someone from his family to become a doctor. Some years later when my father was no more and I was the right age to choose a career, the doctor disclosed the incident to my family. So, all the family members put their hope in me to fulfill our father’s wish. And thus I chose Ayurveda and I am glad about it.
How did your Ayurveda journey unfold after the studies?
After my M.D., I began practising. To my own surprise, it put me into a dilemma of some sort. I could not bring myself to ask for a fee from the patients in return for my medical service to them. This perplexity made it clear for me that I wasn’t going to practise after all. Later on, I joined the Ayurveda College I graduated from and started teaching. This career path seemed to come to me more naturally. I taught there for 14 long years and served as the Head of Department as well. Then I joined Gujarat Ayurved University as a professor and taught there for seven years. I spent a good amount of time in research during these years. I also worked as the director-in-charge here. Then I assumed the charge of the Director General for the Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine last year. Now I am serving as the Director General for the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, under Ministry of AYUSH, with effect from 9th March, 2015.
It indeed has been a distinguished and long career journey, Prof. Dhiman. Going back to your teaching experience, what are the challenges for the students that you recall?
All Ayurveda students come from the common medical entrance test in which M.B.B.S. is given only to those who hold a good rank in the competition. Hence, most of the B.A.M.S. students already have a low morale. Now as they complete their courses, they realize there is not any equal opportunities in career either. This discourages them greatly.
The second important point is that many Ayurveda educational institutions do not have a good infrastructure in comparison to the Allopathic medical colleges. Ayurvedic medicine quality at primary health centers is poor. There is a shortage of nursing and paramedical staff. This situation further deteriorates the motivation in students.
The third point to ponder about is the Ayurveda students hardly see any patients getting cured during their study period. The lack of clinical and practical exposure makes it all theoretical and hard to believe or understand intrinsically. Lack of commitment in teachers adds to this further.
Those are some really pressing concerns, Prof. Dhiman. Can you also tell us what challenges did you see for the teachers during your teaching tenure?
Today, lecturers and professors are paid really well, but they do not seem motivated enough. Secondly, it is the job of the teachers to help students become aware of the so many AYUSH programs that are there. They should also have research and regulations related awareness. Government is doing so much for the students and the teachers need to share all that with them. If these two things are resolved, teachers will help motivate students and create better doctors for tomorrow.
How effective is traditional medicine as a cure?
You should immediately stop using the word traditional if you listen to me. The use of the phrase ‘traditional medicine’ is one of the reasons why Ayurveda was sidelined. Traditional is something that is word of mouth and undocumented. But as you know, Ayurveda is a well documented, evidence-based, scientific system of medicine. Take an example. Nanotechnology is hardly 15-20 years old. But when you read Ayurveda, you would know that microns and nano particles were already a concept in preparing fine Ayurvedic medicines.
That’s remarkable, Prof. Dhiman. What do you think of Ayurveda’s future and its role in Integrated Medicine?
Today the world has realized that it needs Ayurveda. Everyone now wants natural medication because of the toxicity caused by the modern medicines. Ayurveda is time-tested. Except in emergency cases, surgery and a handful of other contexts, Ayurveda is the best medicine system, both in stand alone and integrated manner.
Do you think NirogStreet is making an impact using innovative technology platforms to help Ayurveda practitioners and students connect and share knowledge as well as upgrade their skills?
It is a good effort for sure. Practitioners need to remain aware of the latest developments and breakthroughs. Promotion of health in community is important too. We need to bring Ayurveda principles in our practice word-by-word and follow them sincerely. Endeavors by NirogStreet are really appreciable. There should be an easy version of technology where students as well as doctors can learn, interact, and share easily. It is the time to build a vibrant Ayurveda community among the practitioners.
Any hobbies or activities you engage in, outside your professional life?
I am workaholic in essence. I like participating in scientific debates and discussions. I also like reading literature books. Sometimes I watch television too.
What message would you like to convey to the people on wellbeing?
People should understand that it is important to learn how to not to fall ill. They should follow Ritucharya, Dincharya, Aahar and Vihaar concepts of Ayurveda. Rather than popping pills to relieve the pain and sickness, one should have a prior preventative approach toward health problems.
Some of the books written by Prof. (Dr.) K. S. Dhiman: