The country plans to set up a new quality control regulator for ayurvedic and traditional medicines as it seeks to increase sales of these therapies in the estimated $100 billion global market for alternative medicine, the government said on Thursday.
Under the new universal health plan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government aims to offer 30 free traditional medicines to all its citizens, a senior health ministry official told Reuters last week.
On Thursday, the government said it would provide financial support to traditional drugs manufacturers to help them enhance quality and meet global standards.
Ayurveda is an ancient home-grown health system that includes medicines, meditation, exercise and dietary guidelines practised by millions on the Indian subcontinent and increasingly in the West.
But Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the country's share in the global market for such medicines remained "negligible" compared to countries like China, and quality standards failed to meet international specifications.
"The government has decided to address this lacuna," Vardhan said in a statement.
"It is a pity that China has captured such a huge share of the world market whereas India's presence is non-existent," he added.
Ayurvedic and other traditional therapies are popular in the country's rural areas, which still have poor access to modern health facilities. Homeopathic medicines also find wide acceptance.
Other products such as creams and oils containing ayurvedic herbs are manufactured by domestic companies such as Dabur and Emami. The domestic market for such products registered a 13 per cent growth in 2013, according to Euromonitor International.