Tamil Nadu medical college dean expresses regret, reinstated, says minister



Removed last week after first-year medical students of Madurai Medical College took the Charak Shapath, instead of the Hippocratic oath, the medical college’s dean, Dr A Rathinavel, was reinstated on Wednesday, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian said.

Subramanian said Dr Rathinavel has apologised for the error, and that he will join back on Thursday as the college dean.

After students at the Madurai college took the “archaic” oath on April 30, against conventions followed by the state government and at an event attended by two state ministers, it emerged that students of at least three other government medical colleges in the state had also taken the Charak oath earlier.

Authorities subsequently warned administrations of all these institutions and the government issued a circular on Sunday, pointing out that college administrations follow the Hippocratic oath, and not Charak oath.


Centre’s push for Charakh oath

The Centre recently recommended Charak Shapath for new medical students. National Medical Commission, the medical education regulatory authority, has included it as part of its revised competency-based medical education. The new guidelines state, “Modified ‘Maharshi Charak Shapath’ is recommended when a candidate is introduced to medical education.”

On Wednesday, Subramanian said Chief Minister M K Stalin had told him that he had heard about the good work of Dr Rathinavel during the Covid-19 pandemic and he should be reinstated since he has expressed regret. “His (CM’s) order has been implemented,” the minister said.

“We decided not to act against deans of three other colleges, as they have apologised,” Subramanian said. The minister said the Charak Shapath has controversial contents. He said another reason for the government to oppose it is for a likely scenario in which it may be forced on students in the next five or 10 years — and to recite it in Sanskrit. That, he said, cannot be allowed to take place in Tamil Nadu.

Director of Medical Education Dr R Narayanababu, who conducted an inquiry on the controversy, issued directions to all medical colleges and administrators against introducing new schemes and practices without knowledge of the directorate or the health department.

The government has taken a strong stand against Charak oath, citing some of the rigorous, archaic tones of the ancient text — for instance, it says “women cannot consult a male doctor alone without a relative”, and that “doctors should not treat men who are against the rulers”.

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