MBBS in Hindi: Medical education needs research & innovation, not deep-dive into cultural chauvinism, says doctors’ body

Doctors ask: What about students who want to study further, or get into research, after MBBS, which will be in English?

BySumit Jha

Published Oct 21, 2022 | 9:00 AMUpdatedOct 21, 2022 | 6:49 PM


After Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah on Sunday, 16 October, launched MBBS textbooks in Hindi for three subjects, doctors are saying that instead of pushing for Hindi translations of medical textbooks, the Union government should focus on steps to produce world-class doctors.

The Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) noted in a statement that the medical-sciences curriculum is vast and keeps on changing with never-ending research going on at multiple levels all the world over.

The question is not of Hindi versus English, nor is it one of a cultural colonial hangover, as some are portraying it to be, the association pointed out.

“The moot point here is producing world-class doctors to serve our people, while simultaneously ensuring that the services sector is strengthened as doctors from India are serving in different countries contributing to the prestige of our country,” said FAIMA in its statement.

The book launch by Amit Shah was part of the Madhya Pradesh government’s move to impart medical education in Hindi.

The subjects in which the Hindi textbooks were released for first-year students were Medical Biochemistry, Anatomy, and Medical Physiology.

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Hindi translation fraught with problems

FAIMA said that the current issue of Hindi translation of medical textbooks was fraught with many problems.

“Primary among them is the standardisation of medical lexicon into Hindi and producing a set of doctors who will always face some issues while mingling with their peers abroad,” said the association.

Arguments in favour of the Hindi translation of the books included the one that it would take away medical students from the colonial mindset — of doing everything in English.

Another one was that countries like Russia, Ukraine, and Japan teach medical student in their own language.

The doctors’ body refuted these arguments, saying: “We need to view English as a medium of communication rather than a colonial relic, as some tend to do.”

It added: “While the example of some European countries is given to justify the step, we tend to forget that India is known the world over for its booming BPO sector, which was possible only because of the thrust on the English language.”

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Research & innovation vs cultural chauvinism

The FAIMA said that the move ought not to be made in haste, without proper standardisation and planning.

Harping on Hindi translation as the means of cultural emancipation was a mistake, it said.

The medical education sector needs a push towards research and innovation of the highest level rather than a deep dive into cultural chauvinism, it added.

The association also said that the reckless move to push towards Hindi as a medium in every sphere would harm the national interest in the long run.

“I am not against the move of translating books into Hindi; it will help many students. But, we have to look at today’s scenario where every subject is in English. It will be difficult for teachers as well as students to accommodate Hindi,” Telangana Junior Doctors Association President Dr Karthik Nagula, who is also a member of FAIMA, told South First.

Post-MBBS study is in English

“It will be challenging for professors. Students have to do further study and research after MBBS, and that will be in English. Also, they would be expected to communicate with doctors around the globe in English. But, we cannot generalise any opinion. Everyone has their own struggle in learning and understanding language,” he added.

Meanwhile, the FAIMA statement also said that the Hindi-versus-English debate had been on for many decades in the post-Independence period, and policymakers finally settled for the middle ground as a result, ensuring that Hindi remained an official language while English continued as an associate official language.

This was done while negating the concept of a national language, as India is a nation with a multitude of languages and dialects.

Hence, the language conundrum was settled and this was also manifested in our education policy, where Hindi and English were not viewed as antagonistic to the idea of the nation.