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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Morality training for doctors?

I saw in the newspaper the other day that the government, alarmed by the rising tide of reports and complaints about inhuman callousness, irresponsibility and greed among doctors all over the country, is mulling over the idea of including a course on human rights in medical colleges by way of a corrective, so that the next generation of doctors may be sensitized to be better human beings, and not merely technically competent (the two are not as independent of each other when it comes to dealing with humans as most people think) while dealing with people in their care.

Given the prevailing social climate of greed is good and making money is everything, who will lay bets against me that such a course, if implemented, would be any more effective than the environmental education syllabus introduced in schools more than a decade ago has been in making more environmentally responsible citizens, or self-imposed codes of conduct, such as there exist, have made teachers, policemen, mediapersons, business executives and politicians more disciplined and service-oriented on the whole?

Physician, heal thyself, goes the hoary adage. I shall insist that it applies equally strongly to all the other vital services. And that in today’s social ambience, only a few isolated eccentrics are bothered about upholding certain minimum standards and ideals: all the rest have become so dedicated to the blind chase of easy lucre that the dividing line between right and wrong has become blurred, if not invisible, a long time ago…anything goes as long as you can get away with it, and you are not the victim.


Vaishnavi said...

Dear Sir,

I for one would not bet against these "classes", if they ever do take off, being anything other than useless. This makes a mockery out of the entire medical fraternity ofthe country, if this is what their apathy and insolence has led to. Besides Sir, everyone of us has had these classes right from school. If we didn't learn then what would we learn now?


Subhasis Graham Mukherjee said...

there is the Hippocratic Oath already in place for this and it has continuously evolved and adapted for various countries, cultures and ages. The Indian version keeps evolving too.

Unfortunately, a Googling of 'oath doctors india' brings up a long list of hits of the Hippocratic Oath being turned into a joke.

In the site 'imc india', independent media center, in the post Revised Doctors Oath, Dr. Leo Rebello observes "1st July is celebrated as Doctors Day all over the world. The day usually passes without a whimper. Many doctors have forgotten their Hippocratic oath or humanism. Therefore, I would like to administer the following oath to the doctors to serve as a reminder as to how important is their profession."

Kanan Jaiswal blogs in 'Shape up, my India' on Whither the Hippocratic Oath?. The author starts with - "A majority of medical doctors in India today are known to resort to unethical, some times illegal and criminal, even murderous, practices to make more money. For them, it is not patients any more, they are just customers, and like any unscrupulous shopkeeper they do not mind short-changing and fleecing their customers." What follows is a long, yet not exhaustive, horror list of these nefarious practices.

I guess our doctors have the same "frustration" on this oath as our sexy Bebo had in '3 idiots' when Aamir reminded her of the oath, forced her to transport (on a scooter) and attend to his friends' critically ill father.

"Yeh Hippocratic Oath toh doctor'o ki waat laga di"

Sayan Datta said...

To expect that the mere introduction of a certain course will replenish some of the lost moral fibre in our doctors is nothing short of being idiotic. What we need is a fundamental change in our attitude and outlook towards life and to espouse or embrace all that is good in this world, whether it is an idea or a cause. That I am sure is not going to happen any time soon. So the only way I can see we are going is deep, deep down. Then perhaps in the unending succession of days a day will come when things wont be able to get any worser and people will begin to see the light.
I think the people who take these decisions (to implement these courses) feel a desperate need to show that they are not foolish and ignorant and that they too think on 'important matters'. Its high time we stopped looking for quickfixes. The root of most problems is the same - our absolute apathy towards hard work and anything that is intellectually or emotionally appealing, our aimlessness, our purposeless living and our candid denial of our faults and weaknessess and even glorification of the same.
Unless there is a radical shift in our attitudes, unless we promise ourselves to become better human beings and strictly adhere to it and inspire others to do the same, there isn't much hope.
Sayan Datta

Shilpi said...

Hmmm...Suvro da (although an even longer 'hmmm' would have been appropriate for your previous post).

I'm on the fence about this one and I certainly wouldn't lay any bets. A part of me agrees with you completely and vociferously but another part argues with the other and says: if including a section on human rights gets even one or two students to be humane (/to be a human?) then such an inclusion may not be entirely in vain even though one can argue that it wouldn't be enough. Maybe one or two students, if they read about things that they had never read before or had only dimly thought about, might be more human....one can hope.

Hmmm. Maybe it takes a little longer when the rot has set in so deep. I don't really think that entire groups of human beings will be decent and good - not in the near future. And this is just about being decent and good. But it's always been a few here and a few there - but the ones who are, are the ones who matter.

I'm already waiting for your next post/essay/comments.

Take care.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

On the front page of The Telegraph today, I saw Supreme Court judge Altamas Kabir being quoted as saying in a public speech that 'Corruption has become a way of life... it has been accepted as a way of life.' That probably explains why so few people have anything to say about this blogpost. It's about people living in glass houses, as most of us know we do.

One wonders how we keep claiming that India is 'progressing' rapidly, even while the stench rises to high heavens, and public figures at the highest level admit as much!

Shilpi said...

Here's a pertinent link, I think. India's right there at the top with Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-11954667
...we don't have to believe what we read and see. Many of us don't read and many of us are outstanding ostriches, and many see but like to believe that it's nice and comfortable and quite normal....

Subhasis Graham Mukherjee said...

Shilpi beat me to this one - Corruption on the rise: 54% Indians paid bribe last year

I have experience of this. After returning from US, one of the biggest challenges we faced was to get our son in a decent school - in Kolkata. the system in place was the usual and brutal one for everyone. for the US returned (hey we returned because we couldn't make it there) there was the curious look for the dollars of course. In most schools we gave up at step 1 or max 2 - we were not "going through the proper channel" really - we couldn't afford it either. St. Xaviers was the most curious of cases of course for my son - dad went to SXS DGP and +2 at Xavier's Kolkata. They couldn't deny the interview. a pathetic formality and charade of an interview by a white father was done. Our son wasn't given a seat. His good friend from Montessori got in - he was from the Poddar family and they owned more than half of Park Street.

(Oh! we knew about the Poddar kid getting in much before the "official" application and selection process started - from the caretaker maid.)

I have seen a lot of cases where guys from India found it very tough in US. One good friend aborted his graduate studies in two semesters and headed back home from the terrible place where he found "shala ghush nai". They couldn't fit in.

It's not that there's no corruption across the world. Canada is quite high up there in this one - it's a 'hidden type' as they put it here.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Our cute old nanajee prime minister has found a delightful way to refer to the nasty fact that our corporate world is full of greedy crooks swindling the country on a gigantic scale in the name of progress: I saw in today's newspaper that while addressing a gathering of head honchos of India Inc, he coyly remarked that he senses an 'ethical deficit' among our moneybags.

Hahahahaha! cho chweet...