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New dimension needs to be created in medical education to handle challenges of astronauts, says former ISRO chairman

Tamil Nadu Governor giving away the Damien India Foundation endowment medal to two students during the 32nd convocation of The Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. University in Chennai on Thursday. Looking on are (From left) Sudha Seshayyan, Vice-Chancellor, K. Kasturirangan, former ISRO chairman and R. Chidambaram, Former chairman, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre

Tamil Nadu Governor giving away the Damien India Foundation endowment medal to two students during the 32nd convocation of The Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. University in Chennai on Thursday. Looking on are (From left) Sudha Seshayyan, Vice-Chancellor, K. Kasturirangan, former ISRO chairman and R. Chidambaram, Former chairman, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre   | Photo Credit: S.R. Raghunathan

With India aiming for human space missions, a new dimension needs to be created in medical education to handle the physiological and psychological challenges the country’s astronauts have to face, K. Kasturirangan, former Chairman, ISRO, said on Thursday.

Delivering the convocation address at the 32nd convocation of the Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University, he proposed that yoga therapy could help in dealing with the physiological and psychological effects on human beings surviving in space. He added that even Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to travel to space, has spoken about performing yoga while in space.

Pointing out that a number of changes happen in the human body under microgravity conditions in space, he said that bone loss, space motion sickness, and the psychological impact of being in an isolated environment were some of the common effects. He said that while counter measures in dealing with some of these effects include exercises, India’s very own valuable heritage in this connection is yoga therapy. He said yoga therapy helped in maintaining core and neck strength besides helping in overcoming the problems of space motion sickness and the psychological impact.

“We need to create specialised courses as well as institutions to impart education with necessary simulation and training infrastructure in this connection,” he said.

Arguing that the quality of medical education and the aspects of governance in India leave much to be desired, Mr. Kasturirangan, who headed the committee that drafted the National Education Policy (NEP), said that the NEP and the newly-formed National Medical Commission had tried to address many of these issues.

Highlighting the shortfall in doctors with post-graduation degrees, he said that the roughly 600 or so district hospitals in the country must be upgraded into teaching hospitals at the earliest.

Stressing on the need for increased collaboration between industry and academia, he said, “For instance the collaboration for conducting clinical trials for products that companies plan to market either in India or internationally will be made more effective through appropriate institutional mechanisms. “Industry will also be a major supporter for basic research, including diseases and epidemiology,” he added.

Speaking on the impact of artificial intelligence in the medical field, R. Chidambaram, former Chairman, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, said that artificial intelligence and machine learning were expected to be more useful in diagnosis and drug development. He said that the advancements in diagnosis through artificial intelligence will be particularly useful to India since the patient load is high. With the healthcare industry shifting towards digital record-keeping, he stressed on the need for adopting principles of cyber security to ensure data privacy.

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit presided over the convocation. Sudha Seshayyan, Vice-Chancellor of the university, presented the annual report.

A total of 17,590 graduates from medical, dental, AYUSH, and allied health sciences received their degrees, of which 724 received their degrees in person while others received them in-absentia.

For the first time since the inception of the university, the convocation was conducted in the university premises, the V-C said.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2020 9:02:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/yoga-therapy-can-help-astronauts-says-former-isro-chairman/article30989763.ece

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