Dr Sergio Lais-Suarez, an oncologist and surgeon, has introduced Ayurveda as a medical course in Argentinian universities

For a vegetarian and teetotaller from Latin America who practices yoga and meditation every day, Sergio Lais- Suarez of Argentina is more Indian than me, says R. Viswanathan, Ambassador of India to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay who is self confessedly passionate about Latin America.

The good doctor not only has profound knowledge of Indian philosophy and traditions, he has been practicing, teaching and promoting Ayurveda for the last thirty two years.

Sergio's passion for Ayurveda ignited in 1980 when he visited India for a seminar. At that time, Ayurveda was completely unknown in Latin America and he had to struggle to convince the Argentines.

It helped that he was an oncologist and a surgeon. After 16 years of unrelenting persuasion, he was instrumental in the setting up of a Department of Ayurveda Medicine. With its success, the University of Buenos Aires opened an Ayurvedic course followed by University of Maimonides. In no time, the Catholic University and Cordoba University had followed suit.

Dr Sergio also melded ayurveda with the concept of medical tourism by opening the first ayurvedic health resort and spa on the banks of a stream and surrounded by hills and greenery, The spa offered full fledged treatment for health recovery and anti-stress, attracting, top business and political leaders, thus raising the profile of Ayurveda in Argentina.

Actually the wheels were set in motion seven years after his return from India, but in a different Latin American country. Dr Sergio was selected by the Brazilian Health Ministry to train 350 doctors in Ayurvedic medicine. He was part of a team coordinated by Vaidya Gopinath Raju from Hyderabad.

The team also taught Ayurvedic medical meditation and anti-stress techniques to the military police in several cities of Brazil. Dr Sergio recalls the incredible scene of the police, with their uniform and guns, seated in large groups with eyes closed practising meditation twice a day. These two programmes, which became successful, have made Ayurveda popular in Brazil. The success of Dr Sergio's Ayurvedic work in Argentina and Brazil opened the doors to other Latin American countries.

He has been giving lectures across the region and his series on FOX Latin America TV Channel has raised the profile of Ayurveda in the region as a whole. He is also on the lecture circuit in universities and non-governmental organizations in USA and Japan too.

His mission now is to get Ayurveda accepted officially and legally as an alternative system of medicine in Argentina and in Latin America. This is where he needs the support of India with scientific documentation, public promotion activities such as seminars and registration of Ayurvedic medicines with the local regulatory authorities.

In recognition of his passion for India, Dr Sergio has been made the Honorary Consul of India for Cordoba and other interior provinces of Argentina since 2007.

He has taken up this job seriously and has been organizing a number of events and giving speeches promoting India-Argentina relations especially in culture and business.

When Dr Sergio speaks about India, in his native Argentine accent with jokes and anecdotes, India's image gets more boost than that of any Indian speech.

“Dr Sergio is an Indian in spirit, honorary consul in protocol but more than these, he is an Ambassador of Ayurveda,” notes Ambassador Viswanathan.

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