Amit Shah to launch Hindi version of first-year MBBS books on October 16

The scheduled launch comes at a time when Chief Ministers of two southern States have voiced their reservations against a purported move to employ Hindi as a medium of instruction in key institutions in the Hindi-speaking States, and regional languages elsewhere. 

October 12, 2022 11:05 pm | Updated October 13, 2022 10:38 am IST - Raipur

The books have been prepared by a committee of 97 doctors, says Madhya Pradesh Medical Education Minister Vishvas Sarang. Photo: Special Arrangement

The books have been prepared by a committee of 97 doctors, says Madhya Pradesh Medical Education Minister Vishvas Sarang. Photo: Special Arrangement

Union Home Minister Amit Shah will launch the Hindi versions of first-year MBBS books in Bhopal on October 16. With this, Madhya Pradesh will inch closer to becoming the first State in the country to provide medical education in Hindi. 

The scheduled launch comes at a time when the Chief Ministers of two southern States have voiced their reservations against the purported move of the Parliamentary Committee on Official Language, also headed by Mr. Shah, to employ Hindi as a medium of instruction in key institutions in the Hindi-speaking States, and regional languages elsewhere. 

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, however, believes that the initiative will change the mindset of people, who will see that one can progress in life even after receiving education in the Hindi medium, as well as feel a sense of pride in one’s mother tongue. In his public interactions, Mr. Chouhan has often voiced support for higher education in Hindi. Mr. Shah, during his last visit to Bhopal in August, too had said that India’s fascination with the English language had prevented 95% of the country’s talent from contributing to its progress.

The translated versions, said the State’s Medical Education Minister Vishvas Sarang, of books on medical biochemistry, medical physiology, and anatomy, have been prepared by a committee of 97 doctors over the past eight to nine months. 

“On February 11 this year, we held the first meeting and subsequently constituted a task force and a Hindi Chikitsa Prakoshth (Hindi medical cell). We then identified the writers and publishers of books that were being used as textbooks in most number of colleges and signed MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) with them to prevent legal hurdles. Then we got doctors from Government Medical Colleges to translate the contents,” Mr. Sarang said. 

Editorial | Language as barrier: On making mother tongue the medium for higher studies

The Minister added that not everyone warmed up to the idea initially. 

“There was resistance from the experts. Some said it was not possible while others said students might lose the competitive advantage but we persisted taking all into account all these reservations. One set of doctors prepared the first draft, another fine-tuned it further. This was followed by the validation and proofreading stages. We chose three subjects because these are primarily taught in the first year,” Mr. Sarang said. 

“The first thing we had to dispel from the minds of the people was that it could not be done. The Germans have done it, as have the French and the Macedonians,” Dr. Neelkamal Kapoor, one of the members of the committee, said. 

Also read | How India’s many languages can be used as an educational resource

According to Dr. Kapoor, the purpose is to provide a bridge to students who study in vernacular languages before taking up medical education. 

“Typically, English is introduced late in vernacular schools, and by the time a child reaches the age where one has to prepare for the medical exam, the focus is more on the science subjects rather than learning English. Thus many students with good academic records tend to struggle in college due to their lack of grip on the means of communication,” she said. 

Rupesh Verma, a first year post-graduate medical student enrolled in Gwalior’s Gajra Raja Medical College, cites his own example. “I come from a village near Rewa and Hindi was my medium of instruction till school. But when I reached medical college, I was forced to sit with a medical dictionary because I had a tough time in understanding what was written in the books or taught in the class. Things had come to such a pass that from securing the 40th rank in the Madhya Pradesh Pre-Medical Test, I could barely pass the college exams. This was also one of the factors that delayed my PG (post graduate) admissions,” he said.

There are, however, some fears about a Hindi-centric approach robbing students of crucial opportunities, and about the practical difficulties involved. 

Aakash Soni, a former State president of the Madhya Pradesh Junior Doctors’ Association (Undergraduate wing), said that if such a move was made compulsory, then such candidates may only be able to work in Madhya Pradesh or other Hindi-speaking States.  “If someone wants to go abroad, especially to countries such as the U.S. and the U.K., they might find it difficult to clear the eligibility tests or even work there. There are many doctors in India, even in colleges in Madhya Pradesh, who have returned after enhancing their knowledge and expertise from these countries. Such opportunities will be restricted,” Dr. Soni said.  

Also read | Why it is important to offer college and university programmes in regional languages

Two other UG medical students from Bhopal, who chose to remain anonymous, also expressed reservations. While one said that medical education involved going through a lot of reference books and medical journals that are in English, and a mix of languages could cause confusion, the other, a medical intern who hails from northeast India, feared that those like him could struggle to learn a language that hasn’t been their first or second language while growing up. 

Dr. Satyakant Trivedi, a psychiatrist who is also a member of the committee, said that understanding these constraints, the committee retained English or Greek terms without using their Hindi words. “So we have avoided using merudand for spinal cord or shira for veins and have instead used the English words and written them in Devnagri. We didn’t want the translated versions creating problems of their own,” Dr. Trivedi said. 

The project will start from Gandhi Medical College (GMC) in Bhopal before being extended to all 13 government-run medical colleges in the current academic session. 

Even as a clearer roadmap of the subsequent moves in this direction is yet to emerge, Mr. Sarang said that more books will be translated in the coming days. The Director (Medical Education) of Madhya Pradesh Dr. Jiten Shukla said the exercise should not be seen as a “Hindi versus English” debate as the State had no plans to do away with English books. Instead, he said, it was about offering a parallel platform to students who have Hindi as their first language. 

“Students are writing the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) in Hindi, so they can opt for answering in Hindi if they want to do so in the later stages of the programme. Even now, medical colleges allow giving answers in Hindi,” Dr. Shukla said. 

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