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ICS Occasional Papers

Packaging Knowledge: Tracing the Commoditisation of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda in Globalised Markets

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of public health systems all around the world. The failure of public health system on curative front has exhibited that there is a need of integrating diverse medical systems and practices into the mainstream public health systems to make them holistic. This could be effected by including systems both care and prevention in the public health systems for better management of situations like the pandemic. Traditional medicines in this context become important, because generally it is perceived as more holistic than biomedicine. The future of traditional medical systems in the Post-COVID world depends on its performance at global pharmaceutical market. The paper tries to explain the trajectory of commoditisation of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda in the globalised markets. In order to do so, this paper is divided into three sections. The first section aims to analyse the commoditisation of Ayurveda and TCM concerning or in the context of the post-liberalisation developments in the field of traditional medicine. The specific focus of this section will be on the market and the manufacturers of traditional medicine, mainly two most prominent companies of Ayurveda and TCM respectively, Dabur India and Beijing Tong Ren Tang. The second section argues policy formulations have a significant influence on the commoditisation process. Policies on traditional medicine in India and China are analysed to demonstrate how it works both as a facilitator and hindrance to commoditisation. The final section suggests that, of the many factors that influence the revival of traditional medicine in both India and China, this section will focus on two critical factors behind the revival of traditional medicine in India and China. Through the case study of Patanjali Ayurved, one of fastest-growing Ayurvedic company FMCG in India, and its discourse of "swadeshi", this section analyses the influence of right-wing nationalism on the revival of traditional medicine in India. In China, on the other hand, the aspiration of global dominance is an essential factor behind the revival of TCM, by positioning TCM in the developed world as an ideal alternative to biomedicine.

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