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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2023  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 41-44

Perspective on- ‘Millet for Health’ initiatives by Ayush Institutes across India based on the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Millet-promotion call through Mann ki Baat

1 POSHAN Abhiyan, Ministry of Women & Child Development, New Delhi, India
2 RRA Podar Central Ayurveda Research Institute (CCRAS, Ministry of Ayush), India

Date of Submission17-Apr-2023
Date of Acceptance17-Apr-2023
Date of Web Publication28-Apr-2023

Correspondence Address:
Deepak Londhe
POSHAN Abhiyan, Ministry of Women & Child Development, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jras.jras_108_23

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How to cite this article:
Londhe D, Gundeti MS. Perspective on- ‘Millet for Health’ initiatives by Ayush Institutes across India based on the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Millet-promotion call through Mann ki Baat. J Res Ayurvedic Sci 2023;7, Suppl S1:41-4

How to cite this URL:
Londhe D, Gundeti MS. Perspective on- ‘Millet for Health’ initiatives by Ayush Institutes across India based on the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Millet-promotion call through Mann ki Baat. J Res Ayurvedic Sci [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Jun 8];7, Suppl S1:41-4. Available from: http://www.jrasccras.com/text.asp?2023/7/5/41/374504

  Background Top

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets, as proposed by India to the Food and Agriculture Organization. The primary goal of this initiative is to raise public awareness of the health benefits of millets and the suitability of the cultivation of millets in harsh climatic conditions.

During 97th episodes of Mann ki Baat (MKB), the Hon’ble Prime Minister (PM) emphasized that- “India is the largest producer of Millet in the world and therefore, the responsibility of making this initiative a success also rests on the shoulders of Indians. He said it has to be made into a mass movement, and awareness of Millets among the people of the country should also be increased”.

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of health, has always sought to keep society’s health in check. A well-executed daily regimen and seasonal regimen not only maintains a healthy lifestyle but also aids in the avoidance of medication of disease treatment. Ayurveda mentions three sub-pillars to make the body healthy and strong viz. Ahara, Nidra and Bramhacharya. Aahara (food) is a basic human need and an important pillar supporting health according to Ayurveda. Appropriate use of Ahara is as good as a medicine to treat a variety of diseases.

The human body is made to digest and assimilate things that are available locally for them on regular basis. Import and adopting of any non-native edible things may not be suitable and may invite some trouble which may not be reflected in a short duration but may require generations to learn their ill effects. Hence, the Traditional food system has a significant role in maintaining the well-being and health of People. Of the traditional food crops, millets were among the first crops to be domesticated and the earliest food consumed by humans. There is evidence of the consumption of millets by the Indus Valley people (3,000 BC), and several varieties that are now grown around the world were first cultivated in India. In Yajurveda, there is mention of foxtail millet (priyangava), Barnyard millet (aanava), and black finger millet (shyaamaka), thus indicating that millet consumption was widespread and pre-dates the Indian Bronze Age.[1]

Millets in Ayurveda

Ayurveda, which places a great emphasis on the diet of both healthy and diseased, has provided a detailed explanation of millet in Dhanya Varga (group of grains) [Table 1]. Millets have been known by a variety of names like Kudhanya (Inferior among grains), Kshudra Dhanya (small-sized grains), and Trina Dhanya (grass-derived grains). [2],[3] Millets have been used as food as well as a therapeutic diet in Ayurveda since Samhita Kala. In healthy people, millet can be used as a preventive and therapeutic diet. One of the best therapeutic indications of these grains is Pathya in various diseases. There are numerous Pathya Kalpanas (Wholesome Food Preparations) that can be made from millets, so a preparation that is suitable for both Rogi (patient) and Roga (disease/ syndrome) can be chosen to reap the full health benefits of millets.
Table 1: Millets mentioned in Ayurveda[4]

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Ayurveda literature reflects that, apart from the dietary component, millets have been used as a therapeutic agent as well. One of the best therapeutic indications of these grains is Pathya in various diseases.

Therapeutic uses of common millets in Ayurveda[5],[6]

  • a) Shyamaka (Echinochloa frumentacea - Barnyard millet):Sangrahi (absorbs excessive fluids and helps for normal formation of feces and enhances digestion).

  • b) Koradusha/ Kodrava (Paspalum scrobiculatum - Kodo millet):Param Graahi (absorbs excessive fluids and helps for normal formation of feces and enhances digestion), Pathya in Vrana (best diet in wounds and ulcers)

  • c) Gavedhuka (Coix lachryma-jobi - Adlay millet): properties are said to be like Shyamaka

  • d) Kangu/Priyangu (Setaria italica):Sangrahi (absorbs excessive fluids and helps for normal formation of feces and enhances digestion), Brinhana (nourishes the body tissues), Shoshana (dries up excessive moisture), Bhagnasandhanakrit (fracture healing), Durjara (difficult for digestion) and Vrishya (aphrodisiac)

  • e) Cheenaka (Panicum miliaceum - Proso millet):Brihana (nourishes the body tissues) Bhagnasandhanakara (promotes fracture healing)

  • f) Yavanaala (Sorghum vulgare - Sorghum):Ruchya (enhances taste perception), Trishnaghna (pacifies excessive thirst) Kledaghna(pacifies excessive moisture content)

  • g) Nartaki (Eleusine coracana - Finger millet):Balya (promotes strength) Vrishya (aphrodisiac)

Millets are also excellent nutrient-dense grains with the potential to address India’s food and nutrition security by alleviating malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency. According to FSSAI, millets are high in dietary fiber and contain 7-12 % protein, 2-5 % fat, 65-75% carbohydrates, and 15-20% dietary fiber. Millet proteins are a good source of essential amino acids, micronutrients, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and minerals. [7] The presence of all required nutrients in millets makes them potential dietary supplements. Researchers have found that these “smart foods” can boost growth in children and adolescents by 26 – 39% compared to rice in standard meals. [8] Tapping the nutritional values of millets could be a potentially low-cost, pragmatic strategy to enhance the nutrition intake among the vulnerable population.

India is experiencing a rapid health transition with a rising burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) surpassing the burden of Communicable diseases like water-borne or vector borne diseases, TB, HIV, etc. The Non-Communicable Diseases like Cardiovascular diseases, Cancer, Chronic Respiratory Diseases, Diabetes, etc. are estimated to account for around 60% of all deaths. [9],[10] For the effective management of diabetes, besides medication, it is essential to modify the life style and dietary practices. In this context, low glycemic index foods are gaining more importance as they help to keep the euglycemia and normal spectra of lipoprotein level. Millets being region specific food, low glycemic index, and rich source of Phyto-chemicals as dietary fiber and antioxidants received the spot light in combating the diabetes as a dietary option. Research studies on glycemic index of the traditional recipes prepared from developed millet based food mix and their effect on pre diabetic subjects revealed that there was a significant reduction in FBS and HbA1c indicating their preferable option in the management of diabetes mellitus. [11]

In line with the declaration of the International Year of Millets, Government has also hailed the importance of promoting millets or Shree Anna, both domestically and abroad, while presenting the first Amrit Kaal budget. Ministry of Ayush is also taking up various steps to popularize the adoption of Shree Anna or Millets, using various platforms to reach out to and sensitize communities on the nutritional benefits of millets.

Ayush initiatives for the promotion of Millet

  • a) Millet Canteen (Pathya Ahara Unit): It was started on 2nd January 2023 on the hospital premises of All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi. In the canteen, Millet recipes mentioned as pathya in various disease conditions are prepared for IPD and OPD patients.

  • b) Health and Millets Expo-2023: Institute for Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) Jamnagar, organized an Expo from 18th to 21st March 2023 for Spreading awareness to the common public on the ‘Usage of Millets and their Recipes’. Millet Food Festival was conducted in 40+ stalls with Traditional and forgotten recipes of Millets based Foods and popular foods such as Ragi Idli, Cereal and Ragi Soup, Sorghum Based Pizza, Jawar Khichu, Kodo Millet Khichari, Millet Dahi Vada, Millet Dhokla, Ragi Barfi, Ragi Drinks, Sattu, Chilla, Millet Kofta, Khakhra, cookies, cake, choco roll, etc. Overall 86 different live food items and 80 packed items were kept which were prepared by the scholars of ITRA. Additionally, standees and banners were displayed and pamphlets were distributed for the proper understanding of all traditional millet and recipes of millet-based food items. All these were also made available online by scanning specific QR codes to support the digital India movement. Approximately 60,000 Visitors (including school and college students’ groups) enjoyed the Millet Expo.

  • c) Millet-based food product development workshop: All India Institute of Ayurveda organized a millet-based food product development workshop in collaboration with NIFTM, Sonipat Haryana in the AIIA nutrition lab.

  • d) Millet and Natural Food Festival was organized by Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College and Hospital Chennai.

  • e) Ragi Cookies was developed in the pharmacy of the National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur

  • f) Partner in POSHAN Abhiyaan: POSHAN Abhiyaan was launched by Hon’ble PM to achieve improvement in the nutritional status of Children under 6 years, adolescent girls, pregnant women, and lactating mothers in a time-bound manner by adopting a synergized and result-oriented approach. The Abhiyan seeks to improve linkages between communities and health and wellness, thus paving the way for a mass movement to promote a transformative change, also referred to as ‘Jan Andolan’. Under the Abhiyaan, Poshan Maah and Poshan Pakhwada have served as significant strategies in changing nutrition practices. Ministry of Ayush has been the knowledge partner and actively participates in various activities for the promotion of millet under the POSHAN Abhiyaan program with the help of National Institutes/Research Councils under the Ministry and State Ayush Departments.

  • g) Ayush Startup for Millet: A startup named Agastya Foods from Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda - Jamnagar has worked on millets along with the theme of “Ayurved se poshan”. Under the guidance of the institute, Millets based Poshak Pancakes premix has been developed incorporating various types of millets like pearl millet, finger millet, sorghum etc. Premix cators as healthy and tasty meal for every age group and making the strong foundation of international year of millets.

  • h) Other initiatives: Apart from these, for behavior communication change among people for the adoption of millets, Ayush institutes are conducting various activities like exhibitions of millet-based recipes, distribution of Millet calendars and millet-based recipes booklet, Awareness lectures, and quizzes for OPD patients.

Hon’ble PM in MKB stated that-“Just as people have made yoga and fitness a part of their lives by taking active participation on a large scale; similarly, people are adopting millets on a large scale. People are now making millet a part of their diet. A huge impact of this change is also visible”

Nutrition is a vital component of the individual’s and community’s health as the nutritional well-being of the population is considered an economic asset and is an important indicator of development. Being responsible for the health of citizens, these activities by MoA in long run would certainly help in health promotion, prevention of diseases, and lowering of the prevalence of malnutrition and NCDs.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Indian millets. Available from https://www.icrisat.org/a-short-history-of-millets-and-how-we-are-recognising-their-importance-in-the-modern-context/ [Last accessed 17 Apr 2023 at 5.27 PM]  Back to cited text no. 1
Shastri, A.D 2011. Sushruta Samhita of Sharira, Ayurveda Tatava Sandipika Commentary, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansthan, Varanasi, India, 1(9), p.248  Back to cited text no. 2
Gupta, K.A 2011. Ashtang Hridaya of Vagbhat, Vidyotini Hindi Commentary, Chaukhambha Prakashan Varanasi Sutra Sthana.  Back to cited text no. 3
Chuneker, K.C 2013. Bhava Prakash Nignantu of Bhav Mishra. Hindi Commentary Chaukhambha Bharti Academy,Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India.  Back to cited text no. 4
Pandey, K.N and Chaturvedi, G.N 2009. Charak Samhita of Agnivesh, Vidyotani Hindi Commentary, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, Varanasi, India.  Back to cited text no. 5
Morya, Gyan Chand & Vinita, Vinita & Mishra, Hari & S., Shakya & Bahadur, Raj & K.N. Yadav. (2017). Millets: The Indigenous Food Grains. International Journal of Advanced Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy. 6. 447-452. 10.23953/cloud.ijaayush.328.  Back to cited text no. 6
Millets- The nutri-cereals. Available from https://www.fssai.gov.in/upload/uploadfiles/files/Guidance_Notes_Version_2_Millets_29_01_2020.pdf [Last accessed 17 Apr 2023 at 5.50 PM].  Back to cited text no. 7
Anitha S, Kane-Potaka J, Tsusaka TW, Tripathi D, Upadhyay S, Kavishwar A, Jalagam A, Sharma N, Nedumaran S Acceptance and Impact of Millet-Based Mid-Day Meal on the Nutritional Status of Adolescent School Going Children in a Peri Urban Region of Karnataka State in India. Nutrients. 2019 Sep 3;11(9):2077.  Back to cited text no. 8
National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases. Available from https://nhm.gov.in/index1.php?lang=1&level=2&sublinkid=1048&lid=604 [Last accessed 17 Apr 2023 at 5.27 PM].  Back to cited text no. 9
Pandey SK, Sharma V World diabetes day 2018: Battling the Emerging Epidemic of Diabetic Retinopathy. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2018 Nov;66(11):1652-1653.  Back to cited text no. 10
Connor H, Annan F, Bunn E, et al. Nutrition subcommittee of the diabetes care advisory committee of diabetes UK. The implementation of nutritional advice for people with diabetes. Diabet Med. 2003;20:786–807.  Back to cited text no. 11


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