Can Difference Between ‘Circular’ and ‘Order’ Lead to Boot-out?

May 7, 2022

The old order changeth, yielding place to new;
And God fulfills himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.”
-Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), English poet and Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria’s reign.

Some change-seekers could be motivated malignities. But, first the facts.

According to Deccan Herald, dated 5/5/22, “TN govt reinstates Madurai Medical College dean”. The report further said: The Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday reinstated A. Rathnavel as the dean of the prestigious Madras Medical College three days after transferring him following a controversy over students taking the Maharshi Charak Shapthi instead of the usual Hippocratic Oath.

Health Minister Mr Subramaniam said the decision to reinstate the dean was taken after the intervention from Chief Minister MK Stalin who recommended that he be taken back as he has “expressed regret” and also keeping in mind his “good work” during Covid - 19.

He also announced that Hippocratic Oath will continue to be used in oath-taking ceremonies in Tamil Nadu and warned of action against authorities who deviate from well-established conventions.

Before we go further, a detailed background on the subject as per IANS report on the subject dated 3/5/22 carried by the media is in order.

Oath row at Madurai Medical College: DME conducts inquiry

The Director of Medical Education, Tamil Nadu, Narayana Babu, said on Tuesday that the Madurai Medical College had violated two instructions in the medical oath row of fresh MBBS students at the institute.

Speaking to reporters after conducting an inquiry into the oath row at the Madurai Medical College, Narayana Babu said, "The Madurai Medical College violated two instructions regarding administering oath to the freshers. It violated instructions from the state health department and the Director of Medical Education (DME) to get clarification on any new/fake circular from the department and to follow a routine process of admission issued in February."

The official said that the recommendation by the National Medical Commission to use 'Charak Shapath' while administering oath to medical students was only a circular, and not an order.

He also said that the Tamil Nadu health secretary had issued instructions on February 10 to all the Deans asking them to get clarification on all the new circulars from the department, stating that some fake orders in the name of NMC were also getting circulated on social media.

Narayana Babu clarified that the Parliament had also clarified that 'Charak Shapath' cannot replace 'Hippocratic Oath'. He also said that the Madurai Medical College had failed to get clarification from the DME and health department on this issue.

He also said that a full inquiry would be conducted and appropriate action will be taken against other medical college Deans where students have alleged to have taken 'Charak Shapath'.

It is to be noted that the students' council of the Madurai Medical College has taken up the responsibility of the first year MBBS students taking the 'Charak Shapath' instead of the traditional 'Hippocratic Oath'.

Commenting on this farcical episode, The Hindu commented (6/5/22): In the English version that was read out at Madurai Medical College there were two references that are repugnant – “Submitting myself to my Guru (teacher) with complete dedicated feeling” and “I, (specially a male doctor) shall treat a woman only in the presence of her husband or a near relative”.

I have written on this subject in this column giving extracts of the oaths –so I will not go back to the two oaths. But, I recommend wider and closer use of good dictionaries before using or acting on the following words – circular, order, instruction and clarification.

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response is welcome in the format given below (Pl. stroll down a bit. Thank you.


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By John B Monteiro
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