The Maharashtra government announced that starting with the following academic year, medical education will be offered in Marathi, after the introduction of the medical education curriculum in Hindi by the governments of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
The move to offer the curriculum in Marathi, according to medical education minister Girish Mahajan, will benefit students from rural areas of the state.
“Though Madhya Pradesh was the first state to introduce. a syllabus in regional language, they have introduced it only for MBBS, whereas we are planning to give the option of Marathi for all the streams, including ayurvedic, homeopathy, dental, and even for nursing. Maharashtra would be the first state to offer a Marathi syllabus for all these streams. We have appointed committees to study the plan and the steps to be taken. The Marathi syllabus will help the students who have studied in Marathi mediums to tide over their complex for English,” he said.
The chief minister’s office officials claim that they also intend to offer all professional courses in Marathi.
“This syllabus is being made available in the regional languages as per the central government policy. The state cabinet has discussed it last month and the decision of constituting a board for the conversion of all these syllabi has been taken. The board will consider all the possible difficulties and issues in the conversion of the syllabus into Marathi and suggest ways to overcome them. There would be experts from various fields on the board,” said the officer.
The state government’s choice, however, hasn’t healed the division within the medical community. Medical education should either be taught in Hindi or continue to be taught in English, according to Dr. Pravin Shingare, a former director of the directorate of medical education and research (DMER) in Maharashtra.
“A medical student learning in Marathi may not be able to professionally practice outside Maharashtra/India. Even within Maharashtra, most of the cities are metropolitan. Maharashtra doctors are stated to be the best doctors as far as the skills are concerned,” he shared.
According to Dr. Shingare, a scientific subject like medicine should be taught in a language that is widely spoken in the nation. He also questioned whether medical education could be conducted entirely in Marathi.
“Translating medical books in Marathi is half done. We need to train the faculty too to teach in Marathi. I am a Maharashtrian and have taught medical students for 21 years. I still cannot teach them in Marathi unless I get trained for the same,” said Dr. Shingare.
According to Dr. Avinash Supe, former director of Hinduja Hospitals and large civic hospitals, one must be both locally relevant and globally competent to succeed in medicine.
“Medicine is a continuous learning process. Imparting medical education in the local language won’t work much. Globally, things keep developing and most of them are in English. A doctor has to stay abreast with these medical developments,” he said.
This is not the first time that medical education would be provided in the local language, according to Dr. Suhas Pingle, president of the Indian Medical Association (Maharashtra), who cited the example of the late Dr. RD Lele, who received his medical education in Urdu.
“Dr. Lele wrote his MBBS in the Urdu language. He belonged to Hyderabad, a Nizam state then. All over the world, in Japan, and China, it is taught in their language. We still have a colonial mentality and are not able to get over it,” he said.