The story of the world for the past 2 centuries has been that of exchange of goods, ideas and intellect. Societies of the world have been immensely enriched culturally, socially and economically by this exchange.
The noble profession of healthcare that touches the very fundamentals of human existence has been an integral part of this process. The East and the West are vast repositories of accumulated wisdom of the traditional healing & caring skill sets.
Gaining this vast knowledge base has been one of the most rewarding aspects of this East-West exchange. Communication has helped advance towards a better understanding of each other’s health care traditions.
IASTAM and IASTAM – India (Indian Chapter of IASTAM) the multidisciplinary, multifaceted platform & catalyst has been in the forefront of creating an Organizational framework designed to facilitate the exchange of information, insights, opinions and experiences among academics, healthcare professionals, administrators, policymakers who have a scholarly interest and its practicality for the study of Traditional Asian Medicine.
The Scientific discipline of Anthropology, studies Man as a biological and social being. It approaches his culture in holistic perspective and studies health as an aspect of culture. Medical Anthropology came to the fore in the mid seventies and the interaction of health and culture was studied in totality. It was Medical Anthropology which proved to be the trigger for the genesis of IASTAM.
In the December of 1978, an international seminar on Medical Anthropology was organized at Pune, which saw the participation of 50 foreign scholars. Prof. A.L. Basham, Indologist of fame and father of IASTAM were among them. His objective was to prepare for the forthcoming first International Conference on Traditional Asian Medicine (ICTAM) at the Australian National University, Canberra, during 2-8 September 1979.
It was at the valedictory function of the first ICTAM, that the idea was mooted to form the International Association for the study of Traditional Asian Medicine (IASTAM). The resolution was proposed by Late Vaidya G.V. Puranik from India. Prof. A.L. Basham became the President of IASTAM amd Prof. Charlie Leslie an eminent Medical Anthropologist became the secretary General and Pandit Shiv Sharma was designated one of the Vice-Presidents.
From there began the journey of an organization devoted to the study, propagation and enrichment of the traditional systems of medicine. It had a focused agenda and a clear mandate. It also had the dedication and sacrifices of a few committed individuals.
Though mankind has benefitted from the conventional medicine, these benefits have come with risks and the limitations of the modern system of health which are now well documented.
Globally, a need was felt for supporting the traditional system of health. The idea took shape and IASTAM – India was established.
The thought of having an Indian Chapter of IASTAM germinated at the first ICTAM held in Canberra, Australia in September, 1979
The driving force behind this was the renowned Indologist Prof. A. L. Basham & the Indian Chapter was formally launched in his presence on 31st January 1980 at Mumbai under the able leadership of Pandit Shiv Sharma, the prominent Ayurved leader of that time. This initiative was very well supported by Dr. K. M. Parikh of ZANDU. The constitution of IASTAM-India was drafted and approved at the University of Pune, Department of Anthropology, on 27th April 1980 with Pandit Shiv Sharma as the founder President, Dr. K. M. Parikh as the Treasurer and Prof. R. K. Mutatkar as the General Secretary.
Eminent scholars like Dr. C. L. Zaveri, Dr. S. K. Jain, Dr. Ashok Vaidya, Dr. Bhavsar, Dr. K. G. Desai, Dr. V. N. Pandey, Dr. P. K. Warrier, Vaidyas B. P. Nanal, C. G. Joshi, G. V. Purohit, V. M. Gogate, Suresh Chaturvedi and P. Krishnakumar took the initiative in the formation of IASTAM – India. Vaidyas of premier institutes like AryaVaidya Sala and many more senior experts and scholars were supportive of IASTAM – India’s endeavor to provide a bridge between different streams of knowledge.
Due to the untimely demise of Pandit Shiv Sharma the leadership mantle was passed on to Prof. K. N. Udupa, the then Director of Institute of Indian Medicine, Banaras Hindu University. After the demise of Prof. K. N. Udupa, Prof. Mutatkar was elected the President & provided leadership to IASTAM – India. Many stalwarts like Dr. M. L. Dwivedi, Dr. P. J. Deshpande, Dr. S. H. Khaleefthulah, Vd. Padhye Gurjar, Dr. Mrs. G. V. Satyavati to name a few have been a constant source of motivation to IASTAM – India. Others like Prof. Vimla Devi, Dr. Subhash Ranade, Dr. C. K. Katiyar, Dr. Naren Malhotra, Dr. D. S. Lucas, have always extended their moral support to IASTAM – India.
Dr. K. M. Parikh has been a major source of strength to IASTAM- India and always provided the moral leadership to the organization. Dr. Narendra Bhatt, the existing President of IASTAM – India has been the driving force behind IASTAM – India with his inspirational & committed inputs. Backed by the patronage members from diversified fields it has reached the present strength of around 500 life members and successfully completed the journey thus far.
Since its inception in 1980, Zandu Foundation for Health Care supported IASTAM activities at the instance of founder members of IASTAM at that time. ZFHC remained the registered office and the center for its activities. In 2008 with major corporate changes at Zandu while IASTAM was required to relocate its activities. While it continued its working from private clinic of Dr. Narendra Bhatt several organisations were approached and invited to discuss details for the support. With a desire to have its activities the priority was given to academic organizations. IASTAM had associated with Bharati Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University) [BVU], Pune for its Silver Jubilee Function in 2005 with an important conclave covering Educational Reforms and Research Strategies in Ayurveda. When approached, Prof. Dr. Shivajirao Kadam, the then Vice Chancellor liked the idea that was supported by Hon. Pantagrao Kadam, the Chancellor of BVU. Since 2011 IASTAM is privileged to have its working office at College of Ayurved, Bharati Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University).
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