Appealing to students to be anchored to tradition but to think of new things and move with the times, Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Dinesh Singh on Wednesday promised to set an example by redesigning the heavy velvet, purple-and-gold academic gowns that are traditionally worn during the time of convocations, explaining that these were vestiges from our colonial past that made no sense in the modern world. He was speaking at the Convocation of the University College of Medical Sciences here.

“These gowns are simply a relic from our colonial past which we need to shed. I intend to redesign these gowns in time for next year’s convocation in Delhi University. If the Human Resource Development Minister M. M. Pallam Raju wants, he can ask other universities to also replace theirs,” said Prof. Singh in chaste Hindi.

Admitting that Dr. Pallam Raju, who was also the chief guest, was the person who had given him the idea, Prof. Singh said: “He had asked me why we were wearing these thick gowns in the heat and that got me thinking as to why we were still clinging onto the past.”

Many doctors received their MD and MBBS degrees while taking the Hippocratic Oath and Prof. Singh’s speech centred on remaining true to its spirit, with service to humanity as the ultimate goal of a doctor. Citing an example from Mahatma Gandhi’s life when he had nursed 30 people suffering from typhoid during his South African days, Prof. Singh said: “He attended to them without asking if he had an appointment or how they would pay them. This is the way for a doctor to be.”

Dr. Pallam Raju urged the students to be kind to their patients above all and emphasised the fact that a doctor is more than just a healer. “Empathise with your patient. Listen to him when he comes to you, it is equally, if not more, important than the actual treatment. The patient must feel confident in your care,” he said.