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The herbal factor

Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi’s two-day visit to the Himalayan state of Nepal, the first by an Indian PM in 17 years, has opened up a new chapter between these two Hindu nations on planet earth. Modi was conferred 19-gun salute as he became the first Head of State to address the Nepalese Parliament. A good orator and researcher who prepares himself well before addressing any gathering, there is perhaps nothing left which he hasn’t touched in his all inspiring speech that was well appreciated by the full parliament. He started in Nepali while continuing in Hindi. He said that the relationship between India and Nepal is as old as the Ganges while depicting the religious tradition of both countries. As it is aspired by millions of Indians to visit Lord Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal so also there is aspiration by the Nepalese to visit Lord Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi. Modi said that he started his national political innings from the shrine city of Lord Vishwanath. The beauty of both these temples is that the Lord Vishwanath Temple is managed by a Nepali priest whereas the Pashupatinath Temple by an Indian. He tried to trace that this relationship cannot be defined in “number of years” but it has been going on since the flow of river Ganga.

Modi’s speech gave the packed Nepalese Parliament the dose of nationalism by an invited dignitary from its neighbour. As he said that there is perhaps no war in India which has been fought without the gallant of a Gurkha soldier, the whole parliament erupts in applause fuelled by a sense of pride and honour. He strike the interior of their hearts as he said that there is perhaps any other country in the world which has shed so much of blood for the cause of India as he salute the brave hearts. This he said is because of the common chord that both nations shares. Proceeding further Modi focussed on Nepal with the best herbal resources which should be utilized to make it the next medicinal herbal destination in the world. Given the resources and potentialities in abundance, Modi assured full support of India to achieve this dream of turning Nepal into an herbal destination if there is will from the Nepalese side. Tourism is also another sector which can be utilized to thwart unemployment since with minimum investment, maximum yields can be expected, he said. He applauded the efforts of Nepal to shed “bullet for ballot” as he said that the whole world is now looking up to it and its potentialities. Saying that he has come to “HIT” Nepal, he further elaborated to the joy of all what he meant, “Highways”, “Info-ways” and “Trans-ways” in the country to compete with other nations.

Now, the most striking similarities about Modi’s speech are that whatever he has said in the Himalayan Kingdom has semblance in Meghalaya here in North East India. Meghalaya can even become the next best herbal medicine destination in this region and the country at large considering the herbal resources that it boasts. Its herbal oil meant for massage, different plant roots that cures diseases and more is most sought after by people from all over. It has been seen that those who are aware of such products source them from mainland destinations and abroad. So there is a need to augment this sector and traditional healers given a platform to compete in the arena at par with other professionals. This author remembers a relative who twisted her ankle after a fall. She was unable to walk as a result and in excruciating pain. Then someone referred one of these healers who with the aid of root-based oil and massage completely cured the victim. Today she is back on her foot. There are innumerable such cases. There is another such known source of this author from Pondicherry who sources this massage oil for his joint pain, regularly. He said that he has tried oils, gels and other medicines from all over the globe but there is nothing like the massage oil from Meghalaya. With such natural effective resources and large testimonies, these practitioners can actually change the concept of outsiders towards this state and region, which is always considered as the hotbed of militancy and terrorism.

Today, it is said that if India is moving towards federal governance tuning into globalization here is a state called Meghalaya which is briskly moving in the opposite direction towards the age-old Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, Rat-hole mining and what have we here. It is earning ridicule from the very tribesmen of Meghalaya who are working or studying in mainland who can realize the evident fallout ahead. It is indeed sad that despite potentialities in tourism, herbal products which can further fillip tourism, the state is going nowhere. The traditional bodies, district councils who have throughout the history of this state, so far, have taken more interest in despising non-tribals must rise to the occasion and employ their time and energy where it is required more.

Meghalaya’s herbal cure has the force to solely change the outlook of this state. Today Kerala receives a sizeable number of tourists to its Ayurveda clinics spread all over this southern state. Its oil massage for various body pains, migraine and the rest of it has become the first choice of westerners. Such is the demand that MK Mohanan, a native of Kerala, who is presently settled in Shillong, runs a clinic in the city called Mohanam Sreenarayana Ayurvedic Centre, specializing in Kerala remedies and therapies. They are into healing using oil and massage techniques besides special treatment for paralysis, rheumatism, spondylitis, obesity and more. This author is told by a guesthouse executive from Laitumkhrah area of the city that its guests often looks for oil and massage centres, who ends up into Mohanan’s clinic. Now, what Mohanan could do around 3500km away from his native in the hills of Meghalaya then what on earth is preventing the traditional practitioners to actually come up with their own oil and massage clinics all over the city to start with and later spread to other parts of the state. It is indeed an irony of its type that with abundance oil and massage techniques traditionally known to the tribesmen here, nothing strike them to have their own clinics at the first place. This will automatically provide employment opportunities while earning loyalty of the visiting tourists. Leisure tourism is growing like anything and Meghalaya receives a substantial number of such tourists every year but lack of any facilities to cater to the needs of such tourists is preventing them from venturing here for the second time. One such tourist said that he has learn about Khasi oils, root-based medicine, therapies and remedies but had to literally hunt for them for lack of any dedicated outlet. What else can we expect where tourists come into our doorsteps for cures and yet we cannot deliver them? Bizarre indeed! An oil, which not only has the power to heal wounds but to create the next brand name, is today lying isolated for want of better marketing and showcasing, thanks to the overtly lethargic attitude of the tribesmen and their non-tribal bashing attitude. At best these oils are now stored in front shops of few guesthouses and other sundry shops. 

Such wilful negligence is perhaps not seen anywhere else on earth. Meghalaya, which can have its own natural spas, sauna bath and massage centres, whose traditional massager can be roped in by guesthouses, hotels, hospitals, nursing homes and privately is today rusting for lack of proper direction, sourcing and guidance. The natural gift of massage hands, who rolls them depending upon the wound in a body, is lying unused. The poignant part perhaps is that the one who is gifted with such hands knows nothing what he/she is bestowed with and how to go about it. This magic in the hand thus remains unexplored without even the world knowing what is stored in them. Meghalaya’s ministers, MPs who often runs to the national capital to seek baskets, move bills in parliament and clamour for lifting the ban on rat-hole coal mining should be asked to seek assistance for its herbal cause because they are too sightless to see the real side.

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