What’s in a name? A healthy bond, if it is to be conferred on none other than the chief of the top global health body, the World Health Organisation (WHO).

As a symbolic return gift for bringing the WHO’s Global Centre for Traditional Medicines (GCTM) to Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi conferred upon Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus the name “Tulsi Bhai”, inspired by the medicinal holy basil, native to India, which has rich healing properties.

From the dais of the Global Ayush Investment & Innovation Summit 2022 at Gandhinagar on Wednesday, Modi forged a ‘healthy’ bond with the WHO chief by giving him a Gujarati name with a medicinal plant connect.

Three-day tour

On the last day of his three-day tour to the Prime Minister’s home-state, Dr Tedros was seen enjoying the flavours of Gujarat.

On Wednesday, in his address to the Summit, Dr Tedros started with a Gujarati salutation to the audience by saying, “Namaste.Hun Mahatma Gandhi ni aa bhoomi ma aavi ne khush chu (I’m glad to be here on the soil of Mahatma Gandhi).”

The audience, which included students, academicians and Ayush practitioners from across the world, gave a huge applause to the leader with East African origins. The camaraderie between Modi and the WHO chief was visible when the former referred to the latter as a “good friend”. “When he met me this morning, he told me that (after three days in Gujarat) he has become a complete Gujarati now. He asked me to give him a Gujarati name,” Modi said. “So today from this holy soil of Mahatma Gandhi, I give my dear friend the name of ‘Tulsi Bhai’ as a Gujarati,” he added.

Addressing Tedros, Modi said, “Given your affection for Gujarat, your attempts to speak in Gujarati each time and your fond memories of Indian teachers, I take immense pleasure in addressing you as Tulsi bhai.”

Notably, Tulsi (also called holy basil or Ocimum tenuiflorum) has had a traditional connect with India for generations. It’s a family tradition in most households to worship the Tulsi plant.