The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scent of a herbal healer


He’s a botanist and chemist by education, but it’s by combining the two disciplines that Ashok K. Basotia has found his ‘natural’ profession and way of life. For, this 37-year-old is an aromatherapist, herbologist, acupressurist, acupuncturist and a beauty consultant as well.

“I was always interested in nature, and natural remedies for illnesses,” he says. So, after graduating from Scottish Church College with a degree in botany and chemistry in 1984, he decided to pursue his love for herbs, dabbling in and concocting his own blends as well as practising with the more well-known ones.

But it wasn’t until 1992, while attending a seminar of the World Congress of Natural Therapy in Mumbai, that Basotia decided to take it up seriously. “An Austrian aromatherapist, who was at the conference, made some very pertinent points which didn’t please me much then. But he was right when he said that India is the house of herbs, with age-old techniques like ayurveda, but aromatherpay was not very popular here, and that the West was effectively exporting to India what we already had. So, I decided to try and change things.”

The “accidental” occupation led him to a doctorate in homoeopathy from the Open University of Alternate Medicine. His mission since has been to educate the masses about the therapeutic benefits of natural oils to treat mental and physical illnesses, diseases or minor ailments, from headaches and hair-fall, arthritis and asthma, to strengthening the immune system and fighting insomnia.

Having set up the Indian Institute of Natural Therapy and Natural Care, on VIP Road, Basotia began his career, consulting, concocting and conducting classes. For the past eight years, he has worked with star hotels like Taj Bengal, Hotel Hindusthan International and ITC Sonar Bangla, in Calcutta, sharing his expertise on aromatherapy.

The teacher of aromatherapy at the adult continuing education department of Rabindra Bharati University (RBU) is now in talks to make it a one-year, post-graduate diploma course. He is also set to start a course on the subject at Dhaka University, through RBU. Besides, Basotia conducts long and short-term workshops, with professionals and interested parties, from Goa to Bangalore, and has worked with organisations like Adlife and the NGO Sevayan.

While in the process of opening a new centre in Kankurgachhi, the former student of the National Institute of Personal Management is also hoping to start a course in corporate aromatherapy at the institute. “My family uses natural oils to cure ailments. There is also a lab at my office, where we make are own blends and process oils… Aromatherapy is gaining in importance, because natural is the way forward.”

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