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India highlights Ayurveda in South African event

PTI 23 Nov 2014, 14:45:43 PM IST
PTI

Johannesburg: Highlighting the potential of Ayurveda, India has showcased its culture, business and cuisine techniques to South African business leaders here, with an aim to increase bilateral trade.

“The new government in India is giving Ayurveda a big boost. We have a new ministry and a new Minister looking after it. To add to Ayurveda, yoga is also something that goes along with it, and soon there will be an International Day of Yoga for which India has piloted a resolution in the UN General Assembly,” Indian Consul-General Randhir Jaiswal said.  Speaking at India Week event concluded last week, he said that with the collaboration of Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), University of Pretoria, and the India Business Forum, comprising Indian businesses represented in South Africa, they put together a package of culture, business and cuisine to propel a bigger India-South Africa connect.

“Areas in which South Africa has global competency and a distinct advantage over India include food processing, construction, logistics, mining, tourism and technology solutions. These are areas where we think that South Africa can do wonders with us in our Make in India programme,” said Jaiswal.

“At the same time, the 150 Indian companies which are present in South Africa have proven technology and competencies in areas such as information technology, pharmaceuticals and automobiles,” he said.  During a session on how India had seen exponential growth in the pharmaceutical sector, special emphasis was placed on the potential for Ayurveda.

“Africa is a very fertile ground for traditional medicine because of its ancient cultural traditions. Given the size of the presence of the Indian diaspora here, I see Ayurveda as one area in which we can leverage the strength and also to promote small and medium industry in South Africa,” he said.  Abdullah Varachia of GIBS said the event has helped clear up a lot of misconceptions about Ayurveda.  “Our Ministry of Health is trying to move in the direction of placing greater emphasis on African Traditional Medicine.  Ayurveda is a great case study of how traditional medicine can have a significant impact on primary health care,” he said.

Varachia said the event was organised to present India as a dynamic emerging market economy, especially with the massive changes in the last six months, to business leaders in South Africa, but also to share with them the culture, tradition and legacy of India. “In the last few years, we have only spoken about business, but this time we have also tried to show South Africans the culture and food from different parts of India,” Varachia added.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba engaged the India Business Forum to explain how the South African government was keen to secure even more investment from India.  Professor Dilip Menon from the Centre of Indian Studies at Wits University delivered an innovative presentation, highlighting how Indian cinema has since its inception reflected the changing social and political environment throughout India's history.

The total bilateral trade hit USD 15.7 billion in 2012 with South African exports reaching USD 10.9 billion, whilst Indian imports reached USD 5.7 billion.  South Africa has advanced agriculture and food processing sectors due to the use of sustainable technologies, especially in supply, cold chain management and infrastructure development.