Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: PTI)

By Dr Arun Mitra

An advertisement from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam’s Tirupati medical department published on September 9, 2021 seeking specialist doctors belonging to ‘Hindu religion only’ is a matter of serious concern. This has belittled the medical profession which professes its commitment to render service to the mankind irrespective of caste, creed, religion, gender, socio-economic status or political affiliations.

Another news item released from Bhopal on 5th September 2021 is about the decision of Madhya Pradesh government to include lectures on RSS founder K B Hedgewar and Bhartiya Jan Sangh Leader Deen Dyal Upadhyaya, Swami Vivekanand and Dr B R Ambedkar in the first year foundation MBBS course “so as to promote patriotism among the students”.

This is in contrast to the earlier situation when medical students were encouraged by the teachers to read about great personalities in the medical science like Louis Pasteur, Rene Laennec and Alexander Fleming who had all played a significant role in the development of modern medicine.

Laennec’s invention of stethoscope made it easy to reach the diagnosis of several diseases, particularly those related to lungs and the heart. Through his observation, Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin, which revolutionised the management of infections in the body. Louis Pasteur and Edward Jenner were pioneers in developing vaccines. These are just few names among thousands who worked hard to advance medical science. To know about them is motivational for upcoming doctors to contribute effectively in the field of medicine.

The motto has been ‘Medicine is a passion not profession’. That was also the time when to discuss about ethics was common. These produced doctors with the ideals to serve the poor and the sick without any priority for financial considerations. This inculcated patriotism and a desire to serve the nation.

The Code of Medical Ethics was developed by the Medical Council of India (MCI). Clause 6.1 of the Code prohibits doctors from soliciting patients through advertisement. As per the declaration by a doctor at the time of registration, according to clause 8.8 of this Code, he/she has to pledge to ‘serve the humanity and use the medical knowledge with utmost respect for human life and will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics or social standing to intervene between the duty and patient’.

This is in continuation with clause 1.1.2 of the Code which states: “The prime object of the medical profession is to render service to humanity; reward or financial gain is a subordinate consideration. Who‐so‐ever chooses his profession, assumes the obligation to conduct himself in accordance with its ideals. A physician should be an upright man, instructed in the art of healings. He shall keep himself pure in character and be diligent in caring for the sick; he should be modest, sober, patient, prompt in discharging his duty without anxiety; conducting himself with propriety in his profession and in all the actions of his life”.

Times have, however, changed. Commercialism has overtaken science. Ethics are by and large only for the sake of the record. Financial issues apart, there is a serious effort to divide the doctors for jobs on communal lines even though a doctor is ethically bound to serve patients from any religion without discrimination.

Dividing the medical personnel on communal lines is not new. This was seen during the period of Hitler when some doctors were forced to collaborate with Nazis and participate in mass murders of Jews. They would extract the gold plated teeth of the prisoners just because the wife of a Nazi officer liked that.

The advertisement by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam’s Tirupati medical department should have been taken note of and opposed by the medical bodies, particularly the Indian Medical Association (IMA). But unfortunately, no voice has been raised on this score.

The National Medical Commission decides the syllabus of the MBBS course. It sets topics for each subject. Lectures on political leaders to be given officially is not as per the norms.

According to Madhya Pradesh Education Minister Vishwas Sarang, such lectures about the RSS and BJP leaders have been introduced by the state for the purpose of ‘character-building’. Names of Swami Vivekanand and Dr B R Ambedkar in the series have been very subtly added to avoid any controversy. How these will ‘promote ethics’ in medical practice is beyond comprehension. This is a clear intent to thrust RSS ideology upon medical students.

The patriotism of RSS is equivalent to narrow nationalism and creation of a Hindutva based monolithic, homogenous society marginalising the minorities. This is against the idea of India which was conceptualised by the freedom fighters and revolutionaries who had thought of a country with a multi religious, multi-cultural, multi-linguistic society with people living together with equal rights.

Any conscious person would understand the motive of all this. Such absurd and dangerous steps must be opposed by the medical bodies to prevent medical education becoming the playground of hate politics.

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