Arjun Vaidya of Dr. Vaidya’s New Age Ayurveda talks to us about what it takes to make Ayurveda popular in the 21st century
You have incredible qualifications, including a degree in International Relations. What made you leave everything and come back to India to work with Dr. Vaidya’s New Age Ayurveda?
I have a double degree in Economics and International Relations from Brown University, but I always knew I wanted to come back to India as soon as I graduated. While a lot of my classmates chose to stay on, I didn’t. I believe I was among the few privileged to study at leading institutes, so the responsibility lies with us to give back to India. I spent a few years working in private equity before moving on to be an entrepreneur.
You are the 6th generation Vaidya. How have you seen Dr. Vaidya’s New Age Ayurveda change and grow?
Before I could take over Dr. Vaidya’s New Age Ayurveda’s, it was run by my father and grandfather who were very successful ayurvedic doctors with their own clinics. But they never wanted to enter the FMCG practice. My grandfather had over 300 patients visit him daily, as well patients across India and abroad. Given his stature, he never wanted to enter the distribution and marketing sphere, but that was my plan-to create a brand. The business of ayurveda was always our family legacy and I knew I wanted to do something with it.
How are you working towards drawing the younger generation towards following Ayurvedic principles?
Ayurveda is unfortunately perceived as very old school and boring. So a young consumer, will not want to pick up Ayurvedic products. Like Yoga has been rebranded, we are trying to do something similar and make Ayurveda cool, fun and more appealing to the younger generations. The business on the whole is still run on the same principles my grandfather followed. He never charged patients for consultations, only for the medicines; and till today, we follow the same policy. Unlike other Ayurvedic clinics, we have given ours a modern touch, with a spacious waiting room, medicines and ingredients on display. We have also gone the e-commerce way selling through our own website as well as major other websites.
How do you feel the new range of products launched like Liv It Up and HerboFit will help change our lifestyles?
These products are quite unlike anything in the market. HerboFit is targeted at the modern consumer who lives a stretched out lifestyle as a revitalization and rejuvenation tonic. The capsules are made of Chyavanprash, which is a very sugary syrup with an unpleasant taste, so having a capsule makes it easier to down the preparation which is also one of the oldest Ayurvedic compositions. Liv It Up was earlier marketed by my father and grandfather as a liver protector for alcohol addicts. Today we have taken the same product and are selling it as a hangover shield and a long term liver protector, because that is what the younger generation wants.
Have people’s perceptions towards Ayurveda changed?
Between the 80’s to the early 2000’s, I think Ayurveda was almost forgotten, more so by urban consumers who were used to allopathic medicines. Having seen that, in the West, there is a radical change towards natural products. In India however, we are not very proud of buying Indian products. We however are proud to be India. All our products carry the label- proud to be Indian. Also, the ministry of AYUSH is doing a lot of work and we are in touch with them regularly on various topics.
Can you share a personal experience of how Ayurveda has worked in your life?
I have had severe asthma since I was two years old. In fact, it was so bad that I could not play cricket or visit my family house in Allahabad because of the red dust which would set off an attack. Ever since I started Ayurvedic treatment for my asthma, I’ve not had a single attack.