MBBS in Hindi lost in transliteration? – The Hindu

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November 12, 2022 11:38 pm | Updated November 13, 2022 11:17 am IST – NEW DELHI
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Madhya Pradesh is the first State in India to have issued Medical textbooks in Hindi and the first to offer the MBBS programme in Hindi. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu
Transliterated medical textbooks, bilingual classes without separate language-based batches or faculty, and the choice of taking exams in Hindi or English — these are the main features of the new MBBS course being offered in Hindi, with the first batch of students set to begin their classes in Madhya Pradesh this coming week.
However, a number of stakeholders in the medical community have questioned the long-term viability of the system, and the employability of doctors who have studied this primarily-English language syllabus in transliteration.
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In the first phase, transliterated books in three subjects — Anatomy, Medical Biochemistry and Physiology — will be offered to students. This means that the text will be in the English language written in the Devanagiri script rather than actually being translated into Hindi. Madhya Pradesh is the first state in India to have issued these books and the first to offer the programme.
“There will be no language-based segregation of students or faculty. Students studying in Hindi and English will share classroom and teachers,’’ explained Madhya Pradesh Medical Education Minister Vishvas Kailash Sarang. “The aim is to ensure that students who have finished their schooling in regional languages are able to make a smooth transition into the tough medical graduation programme,” he added.
MP plans to make textbooks in Devanagari script available to all the 13 government and 11 private medical colleges. The State is also working to add transliterated textbooks for second year MBBS students as well.
So far, two other State Governments — Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand — have also promised to offer MBBS programmes in regional languages.
Chamu Krishna Shastry, chairman of the Bharatiya Bhasha Samiti, said that education is a State subject, and it is the mandate of the State governments to get textbooks translated.
Each State has Granth Academies which are mandated with the translation of textbooks in higher education. There are a total of 22 Granth Academies in States. Apart from this, State Sahitya Academies are also involved in translation of textbooks of higher education. Until 1985, the University Grants Commission was involved in aiding translations. However, the scheme was stopped after that.
At the Central level, the Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology (CSTT) brings out glossaries and dictionaries of scientific terms. Working under the aegis of the Education Ministry, the Commission is supposed to collaborate with State governments, universities, regional textbook boards and State Granth Academies to produce university-level textbooks and reference materials in Hindi and other Indian languages with the use of standard terminology as evolved by the CSTT.
“Till date, CSTT has standardised the terminology of about eight lakh technical terms in different subjects and in different languages,” said the Commission’s chairperson Girinath Jha. However, as far as medical terminology is concerned, the CSTT has only translated about 60,000 words so far.
One of the key issues flagged by doctors is that a lot of medical terms are not really in English, but in Latin. “In basic science, most of the terms are in Latin. Additionally, learning in medicine is a continuous process, and is done through conference research papers, lectures, seminars etc. Currently 99.99% of this is in English and especially when it comes to overseas or Indian faculty, they all teach in English. So, students training in native languages will be at a distinct disadvantage. In the long run, this will have an adverse effect on patient care,” said Rajeev Jayadevan, senior consultant gastroenterologist, professor, and former president of the Indian Medical Association in Cochin.
Doctors who have studied MBBS in English-medium programmes after having completed their schooling in regional languages emphasised that uniformity of language is vital. “It takes a year to make the transition to English language. But after that, since all the education, tests, research papers and seminars are in this language, the progress is steady. The regional language option is a stop-gap arrangement,” said Dr Rahul Chakravarty, president of the Association of Resident Doctors at PGI Chandigarh. “Besides, in case we want to work outside India or even interstate, studying in a regional language doesn’t help in any way. We may also have to clear a language proficiency test in English to work abroad.”
Similarly, private coaching institutes, which are an important cog in the medical admission process, say they are yet to prepare to train students who have studied in regional languages. “But if the trend of regional language catches on, we will have to offer courses that cater to the needs of our students,” said an executive of a top institute, who did not wish to be named.
The wider medical fraternity is also worried about whether doctors who have studied in Indian languages would be able to work abroad as Indians comprise a significant number of medical professionals abroad. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the top five countries with the highest number of Indian origin doctors in 2020 were the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada and Germany.
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