Medical education in Hindi, regional languages: Detrimental or empowering for students? Doctors react 

In the first phase, Hindi textbooks on medical biochemistry, anatomy, and medical physiology have been released
Image for representation purpose only | Pic: EdexLive
Image for representation purpose only | Pic: EdexLive

The step taken by the Madhya Pradesh government to impart medical education in Hindi may help rural students initially but it would gravely limit their scope for growth and knowledge, according to doctors. 

In October, Union Home Minister Amit Shah released textbooks of three subjects in Hindi for first-year students of MBBS course as part of an ambitious project of the Madhya Pradesh government to impart medical education in Hindi, a first in the country, as stated in a report by PTI. The minister also said work is underway to start technical and medical education in eight other languages in the country. He asserted that students across the country should come out of their linguistic inferiority complex and showcase their abilities in their language, as per PTI. 

According to Dr JA Jayalal, former national president of the Indian Medical Association, Shah may have said that it would “enhance” the abilities of the students but, on the contrary, it may deter their growth. “What we are talking about is modern medicine, it is universal medicine. It is not only practised in India, it is practised throughout the world. If you are trained in a regional language, you cannot expect to go outside to study and update your knowledge and skills,” Jayalal told PTI.

He added that medical education cannot be taught through textbooks alone, it also requires frequently reading international research papers, journals and articles, all of which are written in English. “It will be okay if you are going to stay at a local community level and never connect with the global community. Basic understanding you can give in a regional language, but if you want to update your skills, it is not going to help you,” he said, as per PTI. 

Other states follow suit
In the first phase, Hindi textbooks on Medical Biochemistry, Anatomy and Medical Physiology have been released. Following Madhya Pradesh’s lead, the Uttarakhand government has also announced similar measures to be implemented from the next academic sessions. According to the state’s Medical Education Minister Dhan Singh Rawat, a committee will prepare a draft of the new syllabus for colleges after studying the MBBS Hindi syllabus in government colleges of Madhya Pradesh, as per PTI

Last week, Tamil Nadu Minister for Higher Education K Ponmudy also said the state government was now involved in introducing MBBS courses in Tamil and a committee of three professors was formed in that regard. Karan Juneja, an MBBS doctor and national secretary of IMA - Junior Doctors Network, said instead of offering medical education in regional languages, the government should focus on improving infrastructure and school education.

“We have seen students who come from rural areas, without any English background, managing well with the subjects and the language. They adapt to the environment and improve themselves. Offering them education in Hindi or any other language will be detrimental to their growth,” Juneja told PTI.

“To make rural or regional students comfortable with the English language, they should improve their education at the school level. If they know the language, it wouldn’t be a problem,” he noted, adding that trained in an Indian language, the doctors won’t be able to upgrade themselves.

Not all bad
But, is it all bad? No, says Jaswant Jangra, President of Resident Doctors’ Association – AIIMS, New Delhi. “On the one hand, the step will encourage regional students to continue and finish their education as at times they don’t feel confident and comfortable with English, and on the other, it will improve doctor-patient communication,” Jangra said, as per PTI.

“Sometimes doctors are not able to convey a message to the patient, which is very important in this profession. Conversing in a common language will solve that issue,” he added. While accepting the cons of medical education in a regional language as there are “no medical journals in Indian languages”, he said that if it is not made mandatory, those who do not wish to get into research or do not plan to leave their familiar environment can opt for it.

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