The Dean of the government medical college in Tamil Nadu's Madurai has been transferred and put on "compulsory wait" for allowing first-year students to take a controversial oath in Sanskrit instead of the traditional Hippocratic Oath. The state's health authorities said that medical students had taken the English translation of the Sanskrit oath "Charak Shapath" during their induction ceremony on Saturday. The Dean claimed that the students took the oath on their own.
Reacting to the incident, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Narayanan Thirupathy claimed that the decision of removing the Dean is a political move.
"Hippocratic oath is a westernised way of taking the pledge. NMC recommended the old Indian way of medicine (Maharshi Charak Shapath). Unnecessary politics should be avoided." he told news agency ANI.
"The Centre said it's optional. Why should you suspend Dean? DMK has always loved the westernised model," he added.
State health authorities, however, said that the Dean, A Rathinavel, should have been careful in this "sensitive issue".
"His claim that medicos chose to do this on their own is unacceptable. Even the medical commission says medicos will not be forced to take oath in Sanskrit," it said.
Charak Shapath is a certain passage of text in Charaka Samhita, a Sanskrit text on Ayurveda. Abiding by the oath, which has several controversial conditions like practising asceticism during student life, is a precondition to be taught in the science of medicine.
One of the instructions is to treat women only in the presence of a Brahmin/a male family member.
Tamil Nadu Health Minister has ordered the Director of Medical Education in the state to initiate a probe.
The state government has also issued a circular to medical colleges and hospitals to use only the age-old Hippocratic Oath.
During the induction ceremony, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan, Minister of Commercial Taxes P. Moorthy, District Collector Dr S. Aneesh Sekhar, and Medical College Principal, Dr A Rathinavel were present.