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Exclusive: ‘The Ethical Doctor’ Author Dr Kamal Mahawar explains Grim side of the noble medical profession in India

The Quacks,Touts and the Compensations, Dr. Kamal Mahawer covers all aspects of the medical field which is now turning into a business

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A sixty-year-old man with chest pain goes to his local family doctor. Chest pain is a common clinical condition and can result from a number of conditions. However, it promptly takes a patient to the doctor because deep inside, every patient is worried that it could be due to a heart problem. Family doctors and cardiologists are aware of this fear in patients’ minds and will not hesitate to exploit it.  When the survival of your own family is at stake and when the hospital has given you targets to achieve for the month, even the most conscientious cardiologist will not hesitate in recommending stenting even if it is not strictly necessary or required at all.- Excerpt from “The Ethical Doctor”

Sept 04, 2016: It’s been a long night, alternating between cups of coffee and a monstrous packet of chips, I had imagined sporadically about life without a uterus like the forty-year lady mentioned briefly in the book ’The Ethical doctor’. It started off as a casual read after an evening of friendly banter with a couple of doctor friends over medical corruption. I wouldn’t lie; the words did take me off guard but I played along dumbly. Corruption amongst the Gods; our hallelujah healers, how plausible is that?

‘Ethical doctor’ helped me climb the ladder from an atheistic to a realist. Closing the book cover that night, it was established that my newfound knowledge about Cuts and Commissions, Unnecessary Tests and Treatment and more on the similar lines could now easily piss off a doctor. I looked up the name of the author, Kamal Mahawar, unsurprisingly the man had many titles to adorn the name, he was a Bariatric Surgeon for Sunderland Royal Hospital, UK, an Associate Clinical Lecturer, an Editorial Board Member for “Obesity Surgery” and the Chairman of Webmed Limited. The book must be a Gospel message, I thought!

Dr. Kamal Mahawar
Dr. Kamal Mahawar. Image source: Twitter

A man practicing in UK writes a book about Indian medical conduct, undoubtedly there will be questions thrown at him. I had my own set in a thought bubble over my head that needed answers that night.

Days later, I (Reporter Karishma Vanjani) got a chance to pen them down for Newsgram, after an interview with Doctor Kamal, himself. *Self-applauds*

A distant hum in the background was the only sound accompanying the unmissed anticipation of the conversation. I broke the ice by questioning him about his journey to becoming a veritable doctor-writer, in the likes of Danielle Ofri.

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  • Karishma: So, What inspired you to move out of the hospital corridors and turn into an author cum doctor?

Dr. Mahawar: It’s an honor to be referred by this label. I wouldn’t want to give you a very clichéd answer but years after I settled into my role as a doctor, I thought to myself what have I given to a country that gave me a free medical education and so much more. My stint in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was part of the same journey; a journey to find ways to contribute to the Indian society without shadowing a judgment on it.

Now, we can’t deny that there are problems in the system that goes deep. I mean as a surgeon, I can come back and maybe do 20 operations a month but even if 100’s or 1000’s of surgeons like me went back, it won’t change anything, will it? Problems are profound and it was only when I realized the importance of addressing the structure of the system in place that I started writing.

  • Karishma: Your book “The Ethical Doctor” talks about how easy it is to dupe people when it comes to the matters of life and death. It has a very good insight into the medical profession in India. The readers would love to know about your life in India that helped you understand more on the lines of Medical fraud.

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Dr. Mahawar: From 1991-2011, I played my role in India-  learning, practicing and absorbing the people and the environment around me. I also went back to Delhi for seven months in 2014, but sadly I couldn’t work looking at how the system functioned. Today, as a columnist for the Indian medical times, I say things impartially. I have written several opinion pieces in the last 3-4 months and people do come out and criticize you. However, I believe that till the time you don’t put your self-interest aside, the society won’t move forward. Everything I know, I tried to share it through my book and that’s all I have done.

  • Karishma: Would you like to comment on the Kidney racket in Mumbai’s Hiranandani, hospital? This has been the first time senior doctors at a large institute in the city have been arrested for unethical medical practices. There are arrests and pre-arrest bail pleas are being made, let’s just say there must be an absolute havoc in the hospital?

Dr. Mahawar: You’ll actually find a blog on this topic by me on the Indiatimes portal. I would like to say that it’s not just doctors and hospital owners who need to do some soul-searching here. Why would there be an incentive for a doctor to cheat if he’s rewarded properly? Doctors pass out with 10 years of experience as their leverage but also a family to pay for. If you pay him 20,000 a month how do you expect him to survive?

A lot of my Indian friends in England say they want to go back to India but they are so put off by the nature of the practice that they would rather not. Where are the jobs for people to go to? We talk about doctor’s being unethical but has the government created a system where people can go and work after qualifying? Where is the system?

Dr. Kamal Mahawar, a man of expertise, experience and understanding will show you the good bad and the ugly side of the most revered profession in the world through his book. By the end of the interview, he happily disclosed that there’s another book in the pipeline and we, here at Newsgram wish him the very best for it! Dr. Mahawar can be contacted at @kmahawar 

– Interviewed by Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots

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Facts About India’s First Female Doctor: Rukhmabai Raut

Rukhmabai worked to a great extent for the upliftment and betterment of women. She even published a pamphlet and called it “Purdah-the need for its abolition.”

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Rukhmabai was born on November 22, 1864, in a Marathi family to Janardhan Pandurang and Jayantibai. Wikimedia Commons
Rukhmabai was born on November 22, 1864, in a Marathi family to Janardhan Pandurang and Jayantibai. Wikimedia Commons
  • Rukhmabai was involved in a landmark legal case involving her marriage as a child bride between 1884 and 1888
  • Rukhmabai was born on November 22, 1864
  • Rukhmabai was married at the age of 11 to a 19-year-old boy Dadaji Bhikaji

Rukhmabai Raut was one of the bold and progressive women of that time. The other notable first Indian females to practice medicine are Anandibai Joshi, Kadambini Ganguly and Chandramukhi Basu.

Rukhmabai was the first Indian physician who is best known for being one of the first Indian women doctors in colonial India as well as being involved in a landmark legal case involving her marriage as a child bride between 1884 and 1888. It was a real big deal back then in India at that time.

Also Read: Rene Laennec: The Man Who Invented Stethoscope

 

Rukhmabai was the first Indian physician. Wikimedia Commons
Rukhmabai was the first Indian physician. Wikimedia Commons

The case raised quite a significant public debate across Indian society, which mostly included law vs tradition, social reform vs conservatism and feminism in both British-ruled India and England. The uproar ultimately contributed to the Age of Consent Act in 1891.

Rukhmabai was born on November 22, 1864, in a Marathi family to Janardhan Pandurang and Jayantibai. Her mother suffered because of the custom of child marriage. Rukhmabai was known for her staunch stand against divorce and her love for higher studies in medicine.

Before becoming one of the pioneers of women emancipation, Rukhmabaihad a life full of struggle

Top 5 Unknown Facts about Rukhmabai Raut?

  1. Rukhmabai was married at the age of 11 to a 19-year-old boy Dadaji Bhikaji. She was just 8 years old when her father. Rukhmabai chose to complete her education. It is said that the couple never lived together

2. Rukhmabai’s Mother Jayantibai transferred all her property to her. Later, Jayantibai remarried and Rukhmabai step-father supported her at every step.

3. Rukhmabai refused to live with her husband and maternal-in-laws because they were after her property that she inherited from his deceased father. She even fought a long legal case against her husband and in the end, Dadaji Bhikaji won the case. The judgment was criticised by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and other prominent Hindu leaders. The court criticized her stance on marriage and her aversion to reuniting with her husband.

4. In 1884, Rukhmabai’s husband filed a petition in the Bombay High Court and pleaded to restore conjugal rights of the husband over his wife. The court in its judgement told Rukhmabai to comply or to go to prison. Rukhmabai refused the judgment and stated that she would suffer imprisonment rather than entering into a marriage she did not want.

5. The case again came to court in 1887. This time, Rukhmabai wrote numerous pieces of letters under a pseudo name,“A Hindu Lady”, stating the condition of women, who became victims of child marriage. Her articles got her the support and public sentiments in her favour.

Also Read: Acharya Charaka: Indian father Of Medicine, Author of Charaka Samhita “science of Ayurveda”

6. Rukhmabai did not take the lying down and pleaded Queen Victoria. But still, she had to shell out  Rs 2000 to her husband as a settlement.

Google India paid a rich tribute to Dr Rukhmabai Raut by dedicating its doodle depicting a lady with a stethoscope around her neck. Wikimedkia Commons
Google India paid a rich tribute to Dr Rukhmabai Raut by dedicating its doodle depicting a lady with a stethoscope around her neck. Wikimedkia Commons

7. A public fund was raised to support her travel and study in England at the London School of Medicine for the 5 years degree course.

8. After her successful completion of medicine course, Rukhmabai returned to India as a qualified physician in 1894 and joined a hospital in Surat as the First practising female doctor in India. There she served as the chief medical officer for 35 long years and retired around 1930. She breathed her last in 1955, at the age of 91.

9. Rukhmabai worked to a great extent for the upliftment and betterment of women. She even published a pamphlet and called it “Purdah-the need for its abolition.”

10. Last year, even Google India paid a rich tribute to Dr Rukhmabai Raut by dedicating its doodle depicting a lady with a stethoscope around her neck, surrounded by women patients and nurses in a hospital.