Text of PM’s address at the inauguration of newly constructed building of ESIC medical college and hospital, Coimbatore

Text of PM’s address at the inauguration of newly constructed building of ESIC medical college and hospital, Coimbatore


I have great pleasure to be amidst all of you at Coimbatore, the textile capital of South India and the commercial hub of Tamil Nadu, to inaugurate the newly constructed building for the Medical College and the Hospital. On this occasion, the Central Government has also handed over the existing hospital, the medical college, and related buildings to the Government of Tamil Nadu. It reinforces my government’s commitment to co-operative federalism. I hope that the Government of Tamil Nadu will act quickly to start the College. 

This project worth 580 crore rupees will be a boon to ESIC beneficiaries and their family members in and around Coimbatore. Of the 100 MBBS seats proposed here, 20 seats will be reserved for the children of persons insured under the ESI scheme. We should strive to make this medical college and hospital a model for high quality medical education and treatment to workers of the State.

My government is committed to the development of a generous and comprehensive social safety net for all workers. For the over 45 crores unorganized sector workers, we have, in addition to the RSBY health insurance program, started the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, and the Atal Pension Yojana to provide life and accident insurance. This commitment to the builders of modern India comes from the firm belief that a‘Swasth and Samridh Shramik will make a Samridh Rashtra’.

We have initiated major reforms of the EPFO and ESIC for the benefit of organized sector employees. A Universal Account Number has so far been allotted to over 6 crore sector workers, enabling portability of their EPF accounts. Further, we propose to expand coverage and offer additional facilities and services through the ESIC.

The ESI Scheme is based on the Gandhian principle of “contributions as per the ability and benefits as per the requirement” . This principle entitles an insured person or their family members to uniform benefits though only paying a contribution proportionate to his or her wage. Apart from Medical Benefit, ESIC also provides sickness, disablement, dependants, maternity, and unemployment allowance benefits to the insured persons. Its unique character, with no restrictions on the expenditure and instances where more than 30 to 40 lakh rupees have been spent on treatments, means that ESIC health scheme has been a boon to millions of workers.

Friends, from its modest beginning in 1952 with just two centers in Kanpur and Delhi, the ESI Scheme today is implemented in 830 centers in 34 States and Union Territories. It covers over 7 lakh factories and establishments across the country and benefits 2 crore workers and about 8 crore beneficiaries. In Tamil Nadu, the scheme has over 85,000 participating employers and over 28 lakh insured persons, with Coimbatore itself having nearly 27,000 employers. It is available in 31 districts of Tamil Nadu.

There are ten ESI hospitals in Tamil Nadu. After handing over this hospital, there will be eight ESI Hospitals in the state run by the State Government. The ESIC Hospital Tirunelveli is proposed for upgradation from 50 to 100 beds. There is a large network of 210 ESI dispensaries in the State for out-patient treatment for the insured persons and their family members. Coimbatore itself has 50 dispensaries.

My Government is dedicated to the welfare of our brothers and sisters who are our Rashtra Nirmatas. Sensing the need for expansion of ESIC, I had launched a Second Generation Reform Agenda named ESIC 2.0 in July last year during the Indian Labour Conference held in New Delhi.

The coverage of ESI scheme has been extended to the remaining North-East States Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and Andaman & Nicobar Island. It is proposed to expand the coverage from only the industrial and commercial clusters within a district to the entire district by 31st March this year. Since 1st August last year, the scheme has been extended to construction workers.

I strongly believe in the improvement of public service delivery standards. In keeping with this, several initiatives have been started to improve the quality of service delivery in ESI hospitals. They include online availability of electronic health record of ESI beneficiaries, establishment of an emergency medical helpline, and creation of special outpatient services for senior citizens and differently-abled persons in ESIC hospitals. To improve cleanliness, the Abhiyan Indradhanush changes bedsheets according to the rainbow pattern each day of the week. And cleanliness is an important aspect of preventive healthcare. Studies show that it can lead to savings of almost 7000 rupees per year for a poor family.

Among other initiatives, the ESIC has resolved to adopt two model hospitals in each State, apart from a mother and child care hospital. I am happy that ESIC proposes to expand coverage by complementing its own services with Public Private Partnerships. Apart from cancer detection, cardiology treatment, and dialysis, the Corporation also proposes to offer in a phased manner pathological and X-ray facilities in all its dispensaries through PPPs. Besides allopathic treatment, ESIC hospitals will also provide AYUSH treatment in a phased manner.

Friends, my Government has taken a number of path-breaking steps for the welfare of workforce of our country. From September 2014, we have revised the Employee Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) pension to a minimum of 1000 rupees per month. The wage ceiling for EPF benefits has been raised from 6500 to 15000 rupees. An EPFO Mobile App has been launched for easier access to its services for both workers and employers. The Bonus Act has been amended to increase the ceilings for eligibility and bonus payable to 21,000 and 7000 rupees per month respectively.

Keeping in mind our commitment to “minimum government, maximum governance”, the Ministry is simplifying central labour laws by consolidating the existing 44 laws into four labour codes. Namely, on wages, industrial relations, safety and security, and health. This would considerably increase the ease of doing business and facilitate job creation, without compromising on the genuine protections and rights available for workers. We are progressing on the reform path by building consensus on these reforms through extensive stakeholder consultations with employers, worker’s representatives, and state governments.

A Shram Suvidha Portal has been created for online services related to 16 labor laws, including administering a process of transparent and random inspections of businesses. A LIN number has been issued to nearly one million employers, enabling them to process single online filings on eight labour laws. The services offered by ESIC and EPFO have been integrated with the e-Biz portal of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to promote ease of business and limit transaction costs. Further, it is proposed to promulgate new EPFO and ESIC Acts providing more choice, increased coverage among workers and employers, and better and expanded range of services for organized sector workers.

Our plans to expand ESIC facilities, indeed the establishment of this medical college itself, is part of a larger plan to upgrade the facilities for medical education and specialized tertiary care.

We have also approved a scheme for up-gradation of existing State and Central Government medical colleges to increase MBBS seats. Through this, we hope to increase 10,000 MBBS seats and support the colleges with funds for equipment and infrastructure. So far 23 medical colleges have been approved to increase over 1,700 MBBS seats. I am happy to inform that four state government medical colleges in Tamil Nadu at Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Madurai have been approved for upgradation by adding 345 more MBBS seats.

With similar objective, we are also promoting the establishment of AIIMS like institutions across the country. One such institution has also been approved for Tamil Nadu and with the active support of the State Government I hope this institution will start admissions quickly.

Friends, we all know that the Father of the Constitution is Bharat Ratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. But not many of us are aware of the immense contribution made by Babasaheb to the formulation of our Labour Laws. I am therefore happy to inform that Ministry of Labour & Employment organized a conference in Delhi last month to commemorate the 125th Birth Anniversary Year of Dr Ambedkar. I urge each one of you to read the booklet “Dr B R Ambedkar – Labour Welfare & Empowerment: Initiatives to make his vision a reality” which was released on that occasion. We are committed to resolve to work collectively and collaboratively to realize the vision of Dr. Ambedkar for labour welfare.

Friends, industrial peace and harmony can be achieved only when the goals of employment and employability are in tune with the goals of industrial development and growth. It is our shared vision to have an environment which is conducive for inclusive growth and development of the country. I assure the state government all the cooperation from the central government in all its efforts in this direction.

I am encouraged to work more for the welfare of the workforce of India and strive towards “Making India a Better Work Place for All”. 

Let us all come together in making our country the best place to work and live in.

Jai Hind! 
Text of PM’s speech at Vision Conclave at Global Ayurveda Festival, Kozhikode

Namaskar, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen!

I am happy to be present here for the inaugural function of the Vision Conclave as a part of the Global Ayurveda Festival organized in God’s own country - Kerala.

Kerala is the hub of traditional Ayurveda. This is not only due to the long, uninterrupted practice of Ayurveda in this state, but also due to the global popularity of its authentic medicines and therapies, and now, the vast, fast growing network of health resorts and hospitals of Ayurveda.

I have been informed that the five-day Global Ayurveda Festival has turned out to be excellent in terms of participation and projection of the various facets of Ayurveda.

It is heartening to note that foreign delegates in large numbers have come from various countries to participate in the Ayurveda festival. I am sure their participation in this festival will provide a lot of impetus to the spread of Ayurveda.

In India we have had a long great tradition of saints and hermits who evolved our own indigenous systems of healthcare, like Ayurveda, Yoga and Siddha.

Over time, we also interacted with different civilizations and assimilated other systems of medicine as well.

All these systems were based on the philosophy of “
सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिन, सर्वे सन्तु निरामयः”. That is: All should remain happy, all should remain healthy.

Ayurveda is generally defined as ‘Science of life’ by translating ‘Ayuh(r)’ as life and ‘Veda’ as science. Sushruta defines health as:

Samdosha, samagni, samdhatu malakriyah Prasannatma, indriyas manah swath abhidayate.

This means that health is balanced when all three doshas or bioenergy and agni or metabolic process are balanced, and excretions are in proper order. When atman or soul, senses, manah or intellect are in harmony with internal peace, svastha or optimal health is achieved.

Compare this with the definition of health that the World Health Organization uses: health is a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. So we see how strongly the principles of Ayurveda are aligned with the definition of health propagated by the WHO.

Health is the complete state of well being and not the absence of disease.

Today, Ayurveda is relevant globally because of its holistic and comprehensive approach to health.

The Ayurvedic 'dincharya' or daily schedule helps to bring about peace and harmony in one's life. Ayurvedic daily life routines are meant to enhance the total health of a human being, both mental and physical.

What are the great health challenges that the world is facing today? Non-communicable diseases, lifestyle related diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and cancers have become the greatest health challenges. WHO estimates that non-communicable diseases kill about 38 million people each year and almost three quarters of NCD deaths, that is 28 million, occur in low and middle-income countries. It is in managing these that Ayurveda offers solutions.

The long tradition of saints and hermits who created Indian systems of healthcare like Ayurveda, yoga and siddha believes in a harmonious relationship with nature.

These systems try to create balance and preserve health through eco-friendly practices and sustainable sourcing of medicinal herbs.

Unfortunately, the real potential of Ayurveda is untapped because of many reasons. Most importantly because of inadequate scientific scrutiny and concerns regarding standards and quality.

If these issues are addressed properly, I am sure Ayurveda can provide solutions to many health problems. India can be a leader in making affordable, holistic health care available to the world.

What can we do, and what are we doing to address these issues?

Our government is fully committed to promotion of Ayurveda and traditional systems of medicine. As soon as this government was formed, the Department of AYUSH was upgraded to the status of a full Ministry in the Government of India.

The National AYUSH Mission has been started to promote AYUSH medical systems through cost effective AYUSH services, strengthening of educational systems, facilitating the enforcement of quality control of Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani & Homoeopathy drugs and sustainable availability of raw-materials.

For quality control of AYUSH drugs, steps are being taken to bring regulatory amendments for effective enforcement and strengthening the regulatory framework at the Central and State levels.

Creating a vertical structure for AYUSH drugs in Central Drug Standards Control Organization, control over misleading advertisements and extension of financial support to the States under National AYUSH Mission for quality control activities are important initiatives that are underway.

To ensure credibility of knowledge and skills of yoga experts, a Scheme for Voluntary Certification of Yoga Professionals has been launched on 22nd June last year during the “International Conference on Yoga for Holistic Health”.

Our policy regarding Ayurveda and other Indian systems of medicine is already aligned with the Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023 of WHO, which has been adopted in the World Health Assembly for implementation by 192 member countries of WHO.

The WHO strategy contains methodologies for harnessing the potential contribution of Traditional and Complementary Medicine to health, wellness and person-centered healthcare.

In the words of Swami Vivekananda, therefore, we shall- "COMBINE THE BEST OF EAST WITH THAT OF THE WEST".

Modern systems of medicine have strong and effective diagnostic tools that allow us to screen and detect disease early. The use of technology in healthcare has the potential to reduce barriers to accessing care, and improve our understanding of disease patterns.

However, we do need to look beyond. We need to look beyond providing healthcare and engage in the pursuit of good health, a combination of physical and mental well being.

The escalating costs of treatment, the side effects of medicines have prompted medical experts to think of widening their horizons to traditional systems of medicine.

We are committed to promote the use of traditional medicine in our Public Health System through regulation of research and appropriate integration of quality products, practices, and practitioners into the health system.

Our efforts are to tap the real potential of Ayurveda and other AYUSH systems in imparting preventive, promotive and holistic healthcare to the people.

We will maximize the utilization of Ayurveda and Yoga and other traditions of healing in accordance with their genius and acumen and help promotion of integrative medical facilities. Young entrepreneurs who are planning a start-up could find a lot of opportunities in holistic healthcare.

In the context of health sector planning, while we think of the utility and contemporary relevance of Ayurveda and other traditional medical systems, it is also important to ponder over the realities and the challenges faced by these systems.

Traditional medicine is affordable to many of the rural people. It is locally available to the communities, time-tested for its safety and efficacy. Above all, it imbibes the culture and eco-system of the communities within which it grows.

In many parts of developing countries, traditional medical practices are the only resources of healthcare within the physical and financial reach of the poor people.

It is therefore even more important that we ensure the quality of these systems.

All stakeholders of Ayurveda gathered here must agree that it is important for us to address the issues of safety, efficacy, quality, access and rational use of our traditional medical knowledge of Ayurveda. We should also move closely with the emerging trends in the areas of bio-medicine, health technology and information technology.

I know that there have been great efforts in China to develop and establish policies and regulations for promoting the safe use of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which comprises a large chunk of the international trade of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

We will learn from the experience of other countries, and ensure that Ayurveda and other Indian systems are propagated and popularised.

I am also told that the Delhi Declaration on Traditional Medicine adopted by the South East Asian Countries in February 2013 and later resolved by the WHO Regional Committee seeks member countries to follow harmonized approaches for developmental activities of Traditional Medicine.

I hope, proper implementation of articles of the Delhi Declaration will help to achieve systematic development of traditional medicine including Ayurveda as well at national, regional and global level.

We would like to offer our institutions as referral centres for training, capacity building and information & technology exchange programs in Ayurveda and other AYUSH systems.

Our leadership on these fronts can be sustained only with concerted efforts for rendering quality healthcare and education and by producing competent professionals.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as you are well aware, India has a long history and rich heritage of Ayurveda and Yoga. The multi-cultural origins of Ayurvedic knowledge are revealed in the classical texts themselves. Both Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita urge physicians to seek the help of cowherds, hunters and forest-dwellers for procuring medicinal plants.

In the Charaka Samhita, we notice the participation and contribution of a Central Asian physician in one of the assemblies of scholars gathered to formulate the principles of Ayurveda.

The three major classical texts give importance to Buddhist moral values. Vagbhata, who is said to be the author of one of the classical texts Ashtangahridayam, was a Buddhist.

It is evident, therefore, that these traditions grew by sharing knowledge, both locally as well as across cultures. They learnt from the most humble as well as those with arcane knowledge.

We will continue this effort. We will share the knowledge of our systems with the world, and continue to enrich our traditions by learning from other systems.

The Global Ayurveda Festival takes this vision forward.

I wish the Vision Conclave as well as Global Ayurveda Festival a grand success. I trust that the deliberations will focus on the crucial issues important for the global positioning of Ayurveda.

I will end with words from Ashtangahridayam, one of the most famous texts of Ayurveda.

The poor, those suffering from disease and those afflicted by sorrow should be helped. Even insects and ants should be treated with compassion, just as one's own self.

This is the guiding spirit of Ayurveda. Let this be the guiding spirit for all of us.

Thank You 

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