Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Teach like a Lion....

His voice had an amazing enthusiasm. It exuded the knowledge and command he had on the subject. Anatomy lecture hall at KGMC animated and came to life  when Prof. Mahdi Hasan delivered lectures . 

Though he was retired, by the time we joined the college back in 1999 , but his love for teaching medical students brought him back to the lecture theatres as an honorary professor. 
His initial lectures for our batch was on Histology. I always had trouble with the microscope but I loved his lectures. More than the content of the lectures his passion for teaching mesmerised  me and I hated to miss any of his lectures. 

The best was when he taught us anatomy of the brain. 

The day of the lecture  he entered the  lecture hall  with a human brain on a tray and a large dissection knife. He sat down with an easy smile and started slicing precise sections at different levels of the brain and it seemed like the text book had come alive. 

We were all enthralled by his method of teaching. His loud clear voice reached the last benches ... no 'straining to hear' required. He would teach actively moving around making dramatic gestures with his hands ... almost like a seasoned actor on the stage or a musician charting the depths of music or a magician creating a spell. No one could doze in his lectures ( an impossible thing to do in his class). He taught us the neurological pathways, one of the toughest things to grasp , by making us Role play! What fun was that : ). 

He enjoyed and relished every bit of his teaching life. He had his eureka moments during teaching, like a yogi would get enlightenment during meditation. Difficult concepts spontaneously simplified themselves as he taught. 

The best thing about this passionate professor of ours was that he always said and lived by it... 

“Teach like a Lion but ask like a goat...” (the emphasis should be on teaching and not setting a tough question paper.) 

But what  motivated me to write all this after 13 years ? 

It was a picture circulating on the internet that I stumbled upon to my great delight. Our beloved professor was receiving Padma Shree from the President (the first one to receive it in the field of anatomy ). It was an immensely  proud moment and I felt totally thrilled . 

 In a time when teacher student relationship has lost it's sheen and education has become a business we Georgians are lucky to have had the opportunity to gain knowledge from a teacher like Prof. Mahdi Hasan.

This is my way of saying that I am privileged and blessed  to be his student and he totally deserves this honor.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Dark Truth

I am really excited after watching the first episode of Satyamev Jayate. It not only has great substance but covers an issue in a wholesome manner. I am so glad that it started with an issue that is immensely close to my heart. I wanted to write on the issue of female infanticide and foeticide but all I could scribble was a story titled Dear daughter. I would like to congratulate Aamir Khan and the team of Satayamev Jayate to have lived upto it's promotion and airing a talk show on national television that touches the soul of India and brings out the real face of our society.
The first time I got the whole picture of the issue (despite being a doctor and more so an obstetrician in making I  wasn’t aware of what heinous crimes my fellow doctors were capable of) when randomly I bought a book named “Dissappearing daughters “ at the airport while waiting for my  flight. The book has a Prologue by Dr. Abdul Kalam  and written by Gita Arvamudan , a journalist.

 It starts from the authors journey to a village in Tamil Nadu where female infanticide was so rampant that there was news of  tiny skeletons being found. That was back in 90s . Today of course with technology at hand and portable ultrasound machines  foeticide is more common. There is a whole list of facts in this bookthat took me aback... some of which surfaced in the show Satyamev Jayate
  1.      I always thought South Indian population was better educated and it was the North Indian poor states with rampant practice of  dowry  where this crime happened.

Correction: Some South Indian states  have a very deeply embedded dowry system and infanticides were pretty common. Though the dark truth was fiercely guarded.The law if enforced usually caught the  mother who at the end of the day had no claim on her own body and was already a victim.

          2.The doctors involved work in a nexus as a business and were untouched despite the relevant punishable laws. I knew this one but I had no clue about how deeply set this trend was and how easily someone trained to save lives could indulge in  murdering humans in utero. May be I am naive
but it was the hardest fact to digest. Makes me really sad.

3.       I thought that such things would happen in case of uneducated people with lesser means to support a living as they can’t afford dowries in the future.

Correction: These incidences were more among educated people with good standard of living. It is more problem of a patriarchal mindset rather than education level. Besided the technology is more easily available to the ‘educated ‘class.                                                                                                                                

4.       I thought women of lower socio-economic status suffered from this injustice.
Correction- Women of higher social strata are no exception. I was shocked to know that NRI women were brought to India for sex determined abortions as it was not easily available in other parts of the world.
Satyamev Jayate interviewed Dr. Mitu who was forced and then tricked to determine the sex of her babies . Then she was forced to abort the twin girls she was pregnant with. She is a doctor . Her husband is an orthopaedic surgeon and there is a long list of well educated people with Phd’s and what not in her in-laws. This is unbelievable.

5.       The fact that sex ratio per thousand when converted into absolute numbers could be such scary monster figure. Aamir gave the latest stats that with the present rate of foeticide there would be over 2 crore men without women to marry.  This is horrifying even to imagine. No wonder we are witnessing a rise in crime against women. Are you still surprised at the frequency of gang rapes these days ?

6.       Human trafficking , polygamy and pattern of migration. This was new to me 4 years back but that very year The Hindu did publish the story of this startling aspect of the declining sex ratio.
When DIMARU states ( daughter maru states : Punjab, Haryana , Rajasthan, UP, MP) had a scarcity of women a new trend started emerging. The worst aspect of female foeticide. Women from poorer states like Bihar, Jharkhand , Orissa and southern states were purchased and migrated to these states to function as ‘wives’ without status. In a family of 4-5 men a woman would be bought and first act as a wife to the eldest and after a son was born she would be shared by other men of the family. Polyandry began to become a trend. As specified by a Protection Officer on Satyamev Jayate show these women have no status , their children are neglected... they are always at the risk of being abandoned , tortured and sold again. A lot of then face language problems and have no way out of the situation.

Some states practice exchange marriages where a brother and a sister are married into a family only when there is a match for both the brother and sister. These end up in bad marriages. A woman’s story narrated in the book showed the ill effects of such marriages. She was married to a younger guy just because her brother’s marriage was fixed to the guy’s sister. She bore the burden of a dysfunctional marriage so that her brother’s marriage is not affected.

Satyamev Jayate's first episode is commendable. Awareness is the first step towards change. If a society remains in denial we cannot expect a social changed. Pessimistic views would be heard over and over again but saying 'Yes this problem exists'... saying 'Yes we acknowledge it ' .... saying' Yes this monster exists'\ and it is our own making' would be the first step towards a better future and a way of life...

The most important message I guess is that it is a social problem and the absence of the daughters that were killed in- utero would inevitably effect the lives of the daughters who were fortunate enough to be born.