An Open Letter to the JUDA

I had the privilege of seeing the debate  Mr Aditya and Mr Kranti participated in on the 28th October 2014. Their preparation to clarify the questions being asked is commendable. The unity among your community is evident and appreciable. While the interview answered a lot of questions I had, it also brought to my mind some questions and concerns. Before I start listing my questions and concerns, let me tell you that I was a part of the ‘medical education’ system in the city of Hyderabad before I moved on looking for greener pastures. This letter is intended to ask related questions. Hope that will have a positive outcome While it is easy for me to sit and write this post, I want you to note that I was also a part of that ‘system’ for five years. The anger and breach of trust that your community is currently experiencing is not a foreign feeling for me.

I  always use the example that Dr Joshi, a veteran general medicine practitioner gave us in our first general medicine class.

The root cause of the disease is important to be identified and treated. Mere symptomatic treatment will never alleviate human suffering in disease              

The above line is the best representation of what he tried to teach us that day. Treating the symptom alone without finding the ‘root cause’ for a condition will not eliminate human suffering in disease. What I observe with the current agitation is that you as a community are aiming at achieving symptomatic relief. The Government Order and the signing of the bonds are symptoms of the system. By fighting for a symptomatic relief, you are shutting down the avenues for finding the root cause.

Where does the current problem stem from?

JUDA is not a community that sprouted yesterday. JUDA is a household term today thanks to the over dose of media and social media. But what JUDA is doing right now is seeking attention to the job issue symptom of the disease called ‘poor standards in medical education’.

Let me ask you these questions first:

  • When was the last time that medical student bodies or medical students launched a strike to demand that the medical studies curriculum be updated?
  • Do you know where our medical curriculum stands in reference to international standards?
  • When was the last time that medical students sat on strike for cleaner and safer work environments?

If the answers to the above questions are yes, I would love to hear more details about it.Despite all the media attention and guerilla marketing for your cause, common man still finds lack of credibility. Common man here refers to parents and families who have seen their children pass through the same system. Today the same children are serving the poorest of the poor despite facing the same struggles that you and me passed through. Your representatives put up a great fight in the debate. All through the interview when your representatives call for a system and proper procedure, I am thinking about the quality of education that is delivered all across five years for medical education in our city.

  1. Which part of that curriculum focuses on ethics of medical practice (real-time! Don’t tell me there are courses that are a part of the curriculum) and research (how many faculty members have encouraged research or even talked at length about the need for research in Indian medical education?
  2. Which part of that curriculum emphasizes the need for physical fitness for medical practitioners? (Now please don’t tell me this is irrelevant!)
  3. Which part of that curriculum that is delivered for five years challenges every medical student to achieve excellence in medical practice than mere academic excellence?
  4. Which part of that curriculum allows the room for exchange of ideas and information between peers from outside your colleges?
  5. How many of you have clean and hygienic toilets in your colleges? (Trust me this is a real-time problem!)

The questions are endless. And I know none of us can put our heads up and defend ourselves to at least one question in the above list. Correct me if I am wrong. 28 days of strike to make the government realize that it has to start working on systems and procedures. What do you guys get?

28 days of lost service you could have delivered to the people who are approaching your hospitals for services.

You as a community need to get stronger before taking this further. If you want the systems and procedures, first focus on improving the standard of education that you get. Get the under graduate students to work with you for demanding better standards. Start addressing the foundational issues. The problem starts at that level.

It is the early years during which the under graduates learn to ‘survive’ the system. Then comes the ‘need’ to acquire the degree. Then arises the ‘urge’ to leave the frustrated environment.

If the basics of ethics and education delivery are met, the fight against this alleged demand for ‘slavery’ would have come much earlier. By demanding and fighting for permanent positions to be created in rural areas, you as a community are going to direct the trend for the typical ‘governmental’ postings that happen in any other department.Nothing is going to be better unless the problem is caught in its budding stage. With Telangana being the baby state of India, this is the golden opportunity for you as a community to demand higher things. That will make the medical education in this state reach global standards. By hanging on to the typical ‘job strike’ model, you are allowing a lack of credibility tag to be attached to your movement. I use the harmful harsh phrase lack of credibility because no matter how well you all trained and worked hard to acquire your knowledge, we are still plagued by poor medical practice ethics in our society at large. Unless your community doesn’t get organized to demand attention to the larger picture, it will be very difficult for the common man to support your cause.